Exclusive Mix from CuLosAngeles, new Tropical Bass party in LA bridging Pan African sounds and Queer identity

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by Tom Nguyen

We’re proud to premiere the latest mix by DJ Broso, who together with DJs Bianca Oblivion and Francesca Harding, are the musical geniuses behind a new tropical bass party in downtown Los Angeles called CuLosAngeles (ya you heard that right!) whose goal is to melt your booty on the dance floor. I’ll let Broso explain…

testHOW’D YOU MEET…

CuLosAngeles was the brainchild of me and Bianca Oblivion. I had just moved here from Guatemala last August and Bianca arrived shortly afterwards from Boston where she was completing her graduate degree. Our mutual DJ friend, Dudley, who used to throw amazing Tropical Bass parties in Boston connected us so we met up and immediately started geeking out together. We ate at Roscoe’s and then came back to my place and just played music for each other for hours and talked about everything we loved and wanted to see.

13041282_1173742045969421_2725761309457081082_oWhen it came to rounding out the roster, we both knew Francesca Harding (formerly known as DJ Panamami) was a perfect fit to join us since she is a monstrous DJ who has a more Organic and Latino approach to party music as opposed to my heavily Hood and Caribbean focus and Bianca’s more Electronic and Club oriented sound. The final piece of the puzzle was bringing my close friend Christopher Eclipse on board as our host. His charisma, sense of humor, lavish outfits and ability to lead the whole party in dance are like the perfect frosting on the CuLosAngeles cupcake. Continue Reading →

East LA Interchange documentary about Boyle Heights history premieres Sunday July 26 at Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles

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by Tom Nguyen

It is often said that one cannot understand the present without knowing the past. East LA Interchange, a documentary by Betsy Kalin about Boyle Heights history, is premiering Sunday, July 26, during a very apt time when the community is responding to issues of gentrification, immigrant rights, violence and housing and economic challenges with community organizing and grass roots activism. The film reminds us community solidarity and political activism in the face of many challenges has always been a part of Boyle Heights history.

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Hollywood Hills Realtor invites Hipsters to discover Boyle Heights

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by Tom Nguyen

I happened to see the following post on my Twitter feed yesterday from Boyle Heights resident, Ofelia Carillo, asking others to respond to a post which upset her:

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Reading it alarmed me too. It’s brazen and it’s obvious in its message and its audience: touting Boyle Heights to “hipster” home buyers as some kind of newly discovered oasis amid the increasingly unaffordable Los Angeles real estate market. The twitter account lists a real estate blog Just Off Mulholland run by Jimmy Bayan of John Aaroe Group. The properties listed run up to the multi-million dollar range in areas of Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Hollywood Hills, Los Feliz, Silverlake, Echo Park…it’s a westward march that has apparently now led him to discover Boyle Heights.

His post strikes me as insensitive as last year’s flyer by another realtor wanting to lead a bicycle tour for prospective buyers. If you recall, that realtor was also touting “charming, historic” Boyle Heights with the headline “Why rent in Downtown when you can own in Boyle Heights.” The community backlash then was quick, vociferous and clear — anything hinting of gentrification would be challenged.

What is maddening to many residents and activists like Carrillo is this Christopher Columbus-mentality of “discovering” places to live for a more affluent set of people, who have the means to come in and buy property in minority and working class neighborhoods, where ownership is beyond the means of most people already living there. As wealthier inhabitants move in, prices and rents go up and working class families who’ve been eking out an existence for generations get displaced.

Boyle Heights especially has great historical significance in regards to housing in Los Angeles, but its the “historic” part of that charm that often is lost on new discoverers like Bayan. I personally tweeted to Bayan to educate him on some of this history and the challenges the community has overcome. Continue Reading →

23rd Annual Pan African Film Festival opens with Black Panther documentary

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Tolulope Olusola Lamidi and her mother. ©Kevin Rhone

by Tom Nguyen

Last night, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival launched its 23rd annual festival celebrating cinema and arts from the African American and African diaspora.The opening night featured the West Coast premiere of director Stanley Nelson’s documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. The film is a powerful chronicle of one of the most iconic and still misunderstood groups in the Civil Rights and Black Power movements and a very timely one. With recent incidents of police violence dominating the national discussion on race relations, films like this and Ava Duvernay’s Selma, are important and inspirational reminders for the current generation that much work and activism remains to be done.

There were more than 20 former Black Panthers in attendance, like storyteller Michael D. McCarty and artist/activist Akinsanya Kambon, as well as celebrities from American and African continents, like veteran actors Isaiah Washington, Loretta Devine, Nigerian TV personality Tolulope Olusola Lamidi, South African director Sihle Hlophe, and many more at the sold-out event! Continue Reading →

Cambodian Music Festival premieres Aug. 3! Interview with Founder Seak Smith


by Tom Nguyen

This Sunday, August 3, is a historic first Cambodian Music Festival at Ford Theatres that is signalling a great blossoming and coming-of-age for the Cambodian community not only here in Los Angeles but across the nation and the world. What started out as one woman on a mission of self-discovery has turned into a first of its kind music festival that is resonating with the Cambodian global diaspora. Seak Smith, founder of the festival, talked to us about the inspiration and significance of this festival and the amazing eclectic lineup of artists. Read our interview below and don’t miss out on this spectacular festival this Sunday because the next one won’t be in LA!

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Cry Now: Film set in Boyle Heights Premieres July 26!

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by Tom Nguyen

Cry Now, a new film directed by Alberto Barboza and produced by Cinético Productions, is premiering Saturday, July 26, 9:00pm, at the New Filmmakers LA Film Festival. The romantic feature film follows Vincent, an LA street artist, who falls in love with Luzy, a tattoo artist. Set in the culturally rich neighborhood of Boyle Heights, it’s great to see the eclectic Chicano music and arts community we love so much featured on the big screen for wider audiences!

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Film of Cambodia’s Lost Golden Age of Rock n Roll Finally Premieres!


Documentary filmmaker John Pirozzi premiered his long-awaited film, Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten, this past Saturday, January 11, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It is an homage to a musical renaissance that was happening in the 60s and 70s — Cambodian musicians were creating a rich, unique sound all their own, blending Western rock and pop with traditional Khmer folk music. Cambodia’s phrenetic capital was an exciting place to be then, with an active music scene the likes of which the West had never heard before and would not ever again, with the tragic intersection in history with the Vietnam War.

After illegal US bombing destabilized the country, the Khmer Rouge quickly overthrew the country and within a span of just a few years, proceeded to exterminate 2 million Cambodians, a third of the population, one of the worst modern genocides. Artists, musicians and intellectuals were systematically selected to be slaughtered first. Miraculously, a few notable musicians survived and 3 decades later, Pirozzi has been able track them down to preserve their memories of the music and culture both before and during the Khmer Rouge reign of terror.

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REDCAT Films in November features Iran’s First Lady of Cinema on Women’s Issues and ‘The Empire Project’ on Dutch Colonialism


There are two great upcoming film events in November at the REDCAT in downtown:

Monday, November 11, 2013: Eline Jongsma and Kel O’Neill: “Live Screening” of Empire: The Unintended Consequences of Dutch Colonialism

Part documentary and part interactive multimedia project, the filmmakers have traveled through 7 former Dutch colonies, including Brazil, Suriname, Ghana, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and South Africa, to view the effects of Dutch colonialism through the eyes of its descendents.

Monday, November 18, 2013: Rakhshan Banietemad: The Hidden Cost of Violence

Iran’s preeminent female filmmaker, Rakhshan Banietemad, will present 2 of her documentaries in person: We Are Half of Iran’s Population (Ma Nimi Az Jameiate Iranim, 2009) documenting women’s activism during the Green Revolution and the world premiere of See You Tomorrow Elina! (Farda Mibinamet Elina, 2013), comparing the violence of the 2009 elections to the violence that her daughter witnessed while a child during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. Continue Reading →

Grigris Film Premiere and Karamo Susso at Cameras d’Afrique Opening Night


One of this week’s can’t miss events is the opening night of the Cameras d’Afrique: The Films of West Africa festival at LACMA on Thursday, October 3. The month-long festival is a rare opportunity for American movie-goers to see a diversity of films of the West African region from the past 50 years, from recent cinema to groundbreaking classics. The opening night features 2 films by accomplished Chadian director, Mahamat Saleh Haroun: his 1999 debut feature film Bye Bye Africa and the US premiere of his latest film, Grigris, which won the Vulcan Award at Cannes International Film Festival this year.

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Wadjda: Irrepressible Girl Power from Saudi Arabia

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I have been waiting all summer to see Wadjda. Ever since seeing the trailer, I was immediately drawn to this story of a headstrong, rebellious young girl defying tradition in a conservative society. It might sound like a familiar theme but in this case, we’re talking about Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive countries in the world, in regards to women’s rights. Considering that women are not allowed to vote nor drive and any woman can be arrested for being in public with a man not related to her, the movie breaks a lot of barriers and is a rare glimpse into a very closed society.

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