Top 10 Picks at AFI Fest 2015!

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by Tom Nguyen

AFI Fest presented by Audi, hands down the most anticipated film festival each year in LA, returns to Hollywood November 5-12! The festival will kick off with the world premiere of Angelina Jolie’s By the Sea, which stars her and her partner Brad Pitt, as a couple in crisis in 1970s France. All told, there are 127 films (74 features, 53 shorts), representing 45 countries, in all kinds of categories.

It’s a one-of-a-kind festival where the general public can get free tickets to attend star-studded gala screenings, catch the films everyone is buzzing about on the festival circuit, and be among the first to see the work of emerging and first-time filmmakers from around the world. Here are the top 10 films I’m excited to see: Continue Reading →

5 Days to Support Los Jornaleros Del Norte 15th Anniversary Album Kickstarter!

by Tom Nguyen

(Los Angeles) — This is an urgent appeal to the community to help Los Jornaleros Del Norte complete their 4th album “Tumbando Muros/Chant Down the Walls” via their Kickstarter campaign! 15 years ago, an immigration raid at a corner of day laborers in City of Industry inspired Omar Sierra, a day laborer and musician, to pen a song that inspired others to share their struggles and their hopes through song and poetry. With the help of Pablo Alvarado, founding member and Director of NDLON (National Day Laborer Organizing Network), Los Jornaleros have become the soundtrack for the day laborer and immigrant community’s struggle for visibility, inclusion and equality.

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Black Cowboys in Compton: Help Preserve their Legacy!

by Tom Nguyen

I just learned from a KCRW interview about a community of cowboys in Compton that is dying out. LA’s agricultural roots are still alive in the most surprising places. In the middle of the urban landscape of Compton, sits a community where people are allowed to ride horses in the streets and it’s one of the few neutral zones where youths from different gangs can set aside their differences. The cowboy club there has taught a lot of kids how to ride horses, to help keep them off the inner city’s mean streets. Unfortunately, with the ever increasing urban sprawl, this way of life is quickly disappearing and so too is the cowboy culture.

After a stable named the “Hill” burned down mysteriously a few years ago and the cowboys lost their main meeting place, the club has been in rapid decline. Documentary filmmaker Brett Fallentine has been documenting their way of life and attempts to rebuild the stable as a way to preserve their heritage. It’s a unique and forgotten part of LA history that can be traced to the Black cowboys on the American frontier and deserves to be told. But time is running out for his film titled Fire on the Hill!

Fallentine is funding the film with a Kickstarter campaign that only has until Saturday, March 21 to raise the last $10,000 needed! On the campaign page, Fallentine writes, “Everyone has a preconceived notion of Compton and South Central LA. I certainly did when I first met the Cowboys. Let me tell you that this film destroys all your expectations of this area, its people, and its heritage.” I just made a pledge and I hope you will too and please help spread the word by March 21!

Help Fund Jungle Fire’s Music Video by Sep. 27!

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One of our favorite LA bands, Jungle Fire, is having a Kickstarter campaign to help fund a short film inspired by their song Firewalker, by Saturday, September 27. The Afro Latin Funk band was touring UK, generating huge buzz and packing venues, when Alejo Restrepo and Roger Gonzalez, young filmmakers from Spain, caught them at a show in London. Inspired by the incredible music and energy of the band, they approached Jungle Fire about making a film that was both music video and short film, about how the band formed.

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Support Viento Callejero’s Kickstarter for 1st Album!

Viento Callejero is one of my favorite LA bands, a band that uniquely represents the exciting music that is coming out of the Los Angeles independent Latin music scene and they are having a Kickstarter to support their first album! Please support! Only 10 days left until Friday, May 30!

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6 Days left to help fund Quetzal’s new Album!

I can’t think of another band from Los Angeles that’s been working as long and as hard as Quetzal, Grammy winning band from East LA, while never losing touch with their roots and their responsibility to their community. They are the quintessential artivist group and you can count on seeing them performing at events and rallies all over Los Angeles for causes important to our communities. They’ve been working tirelessly on their new album Quetzanimales and need our support to help them finish it! Even after a Grammy win, Quetzal has avoided the typical commercial music route, instead “creating music that remains committed to expressing the dignity, resistance, and struggle of our communities.” Please consider supporting their Kickstarter campaign! Their goal is almost within sight, with just $1300 more needed within the next 6 days!

Cambalache Fiesta with Grammy winning Quetzal Sunday April 21

Just got back from Quetzal‘s performance at the Central American Resource Center and Cesar Castro of Cambalache was playing with them. Son Jarocho is traditional folk music from Veracruz, Mexico combining elements of indigenous,  African and Spanish influence and there is a big camaraderie and collaboration within the thriving Son Jarocho scene in Los Angeles as well as with Veracruz, where Cesar Castro is from. Today, Quetzal will join them at their celebration of reaching their Kickstarter goal to crowd fund their first and long awaited album! They will also be joined by Banda de Santa Ana and other special guests. It’s fun and free for the whole family and will be at the new Floricanto Center in East LA (4232 Whiteside St., Los Angeles, 90063). Continue Reading →