2018 Spring Films Guide


by Tom Nguyen

Spring time is here in Los Angeles, and April into May are jam packed with film festivals and special screenings from Los Angeles to Long Beach to Orange County. Even for a film fanatic like me, it’s dizzying trying to keep track of so many! Foreign film festivals are particularly meaningful to me because they were always my way of exploring the world, when I had no money to travel abroad, and subtitled films are the only films I get to enjoy on the big screen with my friend and movie buddy, Morris, who is deaf. Special thanks to Wilki of WilkiIMAGE, the professional photographer who’s been covering LA’s film festival circuit for decades and always keeps me in the loop! Want to see Grace Jones in person introducing the new documentary on her life? Or go on a romantic movie date, sipping chocolate margaritas while watching the classic Like Water For Chocolate? Then look at my guide to some of my favorite film festivals and special screenings happening, in order of opening dates:

HOLA Mexico Film Festival’s 10th Anniversary

April 5-May 24, 2018 at Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles and June 1-9, 2018 at locations TBA.
In celebration of HOLA Mexico Film Festival’s 10th Anniversary, the Festival will host free film screenings every Thursday – April 5 through May 24 – at the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles. As a look back at the Festival’s milestone 10 year history, each of the eight films featured in this series has been a notable Festival Opening Night selection. In addition, in the lobby of the cinema of the Consulate General of Mexico in Los Angeles, there will be an installation showcasing the posters from the past nine years of HOLA Mexico Film Festival. These free screenings lead up to the 10th Annual HOLA Mexico Film Festival June 1-9!

Memories Of Underdevelopment (Memorias Del Subdesarrollo) – 50th Anniversary Screening

April 11, 2018 at Frida Cinema
The Frida Cinema is proud to partner with University of California, Irvine and the Bowers Museum – with the support of the the Humanities for All Grant made possible by California Humanities, UC-Mexus, and UCI Illuminations – on Latin American Studies in Motion, a series of cultural events, including four films presented at The Frida, which reflect Latin American history, culture, and recent social and environmental change. On Wednesday, April 11, join us for a very special 50th Anniversary Screening of Tomás Gutiérrez Alea’s 1968 classic Memories of Underdevelopment (Memorias del subdesarrollo) – easily the most celebrated and well-known film from the Cuban Revolution. Screening will be followed by a presentation and Q&A with Raul Fernandez, Professor Emiritus of Chicano & Latino Studies, University of California – Irvine. Frida Cinema is Orange County’s only non-profit film theater and if you’re a Selena fan, come to their free screenings of SELENA on April 16, 1:30pm & 7pm, in recognition of what would have marked the 47th Birthday of the singer and icon.

16th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles (IFFLA)

April 11-15, 2018 at Regal L.A. LIVE
16th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles is the premiere platform for the latest in cutting-edge global Indian cinema and bridges the gap between the two largest entertainment industries in the world – Hollywood and India. The festival will showcase more than 25 films from the Indian filmmaking community across the globe, host the highly anticipated Opening and Closing red carpet Galas, and the Closing Awards ceremony. Opening the festival on April 11 is IN THE SHADOWS, starring Manoj Bajpayee in a tour de force performance as a reclusive shopkeeper who vows to rescue his young neighbor from abuse at the hands of his father directed by Dipesh Jain. Festival will close with the Los Angeles premiere of VILLAGE ROCKSTARS, one of the most lauded Indian films on the festival circuit in the past year. The film is directed by emerging Indian filmmaker Rima Das. The film, written, shot, edited and directed by Das, is a touching coming of age story of a ten-year-old girl in a remote Assamese village who dreams of buying a guitar and starting her own rock band.

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LA Film Fest 2015: 15 Films to Watch

15 Film Picks
by Tom Nguyen

The 21st Annual Los Angeles Film Festival (LAFF) opened last night at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live and runs through June 18. Looking at the list of films, I had to do a double take: there are a lot more documentaries and foreign cinema than ever before, my two favorite film genres! The LAFF site says they’ve made a new effort this year to include a “diverse selection of documentary films from around the world; and a smaller round-up of exceptional international films” and festival director Stephanie Allain made it a personal mission to make sure this was the most diverse festival yet: “About 40 percent of the films [at LAFF] are directed by women, and 35 percent by filmmakers of color,” Allain tells NBC News. “That doesn’t just happen…I so believe in this and the difference it makes in the lives of so many artists…We want to be the change we’re looking for. That is our mission.”

I recently attended a talk at CSULA Pan-African American Studies department featuring Selma director, Ava DuVernay, who said it’s absolutely vital to have more diverse perspectives in film-making and it’s heartening to see a big festival like LAFF setting a visible example showcasing films by women and people of color. After the preview are 15 films I want to see with summaries provided by LAFF. There are also free screenings at nearby FIGat7th and Metro Union Station and a free cultural event Guangzhou Traditional Arts Extravaganza hosted by Sister Cities of LA. Find a printable festival schedule here.

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