8th Annual Hola Mexican Film Festival: Top 10 Picks and Interview with founder Samuel Douek

by Tom Nguyen


©2015 WilkiIMAGE Photo By Wilki W.K. Tom

The 8th Annual Hola Mexico Film Festival which showcases the most recent cinema from Mexico opens this Friday, May 13 and runs through Sunday, May 22, in downtown Los Angeles. I had a really enlightening conversation with founder Samuel Douek who gave me a frank, honest insider look at the challenges of putting this festival together and marketing it beyond just the Mexican American community in Los Angeles. As daunting as it is, Douek and his hard-working team have put this festival on 8 years strong and I hope you come out and support it! My top 10 picks follow our interview:

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Top 10 Picks at AFI Fest 2015!

15 Film Picks (1)
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 →

Top 10 Picks for Outfest 2015 LGBT Film Festival

by Tom Nguyen

With the historic Supreme Court decision on marriage equality, there is a lot to celebrate at this year’s Outfest LGBT Film Festival in Los Angeles, one of the longest-running film festivals dedicated to exploring and celebrating the stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender lives. The festival opens July 9 with Tig, the inspiring documentary about comedian Tig Notaro’s struggles with cancer, and the festival continues through July 19 with 166 documentaries, features, shorts, and classic films from around the world. Here are my top 10 picks!

THURSDAY | July 16 | 7:00pm | DGA 1
Amidst national turmoil during 1968, 2 commentators, liberal writer Gore Vidal and hardline conservative William F. Buckley, faced off during national television in heated debates that symbolized the country’s culture war between traditional and progressive values.

SUNDAY | July 19 | 8:00pm | Theatre at Ace Hotel
A French drama about a woman who begins a love affair with her deceased best friend’s husband, who secretly dresses up in his wife’s clothes. Continue Reading →

Top 10 Picks for Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2015

by Tom Nguyen

The 31st annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival runs April 23-30 and is the premiere film festival of the year in LA, showcasing Asian Pacific American and Asian international cinema. The festival is showing over 140 feature length and short films across screens in 3 LA neighborhoods: Little Tokyo/DTLA, Koreatown and West Hollywood. There are so many gems in this year’s lineup, I was hard-pressed to come up with a top 10, so here they are, along with some great contenders for my attention:

Twinsters – The remarkable true story of twin sisters separated at birth as adoptees and living on separate continents, when one discovers the other by chance on the internet.

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Top 10 Picks for the 13th Annual Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles

by Tom Nguyen

The 13th Annual Indian Film Festival returns to ArcLight Hollywood April 8-12, and this year is an amazing eclectic selection of films representing a lot of new voices in Indian cinema. If you think the Indian film industry and Bollywood are one and the same, think again. Bollywood refers to the Hindi film industry and some of the strongest contenders at this year’s festival, like Killa, are Marathi films from the western region of the country. In fact, a recent Mid-Day article argues Marathi cinema is doing much better than Bollywood. Many of the directors of this year’s films are making their feature directorial debuts and here are my top 10 must-see films, in order of appearance at the festival:

Miss India America – Ravi Kapoor’s feature directorial debut was successfully crowdfunded, filmed in LA and OC, and follows a scorned young woman’s attempts to validate herself by entering the world of Indian American beauty pageants.

Courtesy IFFLA

Four Colors (Chauranga) – Bikas Ranjan Mishra makes a powerful feature directorial debut with this drama about the lives in a rural Indian village, dictated by patriarchy and the caste system. Based on true events, it’s a damning look at the continuing injustice suffered by those condemned as Dalits (untouchables).

Labour of Love – Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s debut feature is set in Calcutta, amid rising unemployment and income inequality, where a husband and wife have differing day and night shifts. The movie with no dialogue is an intimate portrayal of their daily routines and solitude as they make ends meet with little time for each other.

Killa – Avinash Arun’s feature directorial debut is a coming-of-age story about a boy trying to fit in at a new school in the rural coastal countryside. His mother has moved them there from the big city, following his father’s death.

Courtesy IFFLA

Jai Ho – If you saw Slumdog Millionaire, then you know the song…now meet the man who won 2 Oscars and is a household name in India: A.R. Rahman. Director Umesh Aggarwal’s documentary takes us through his long, storied career.

Elizabeth Ekadashi – A heartwarming story of 2 siblings trying to save their beloved bicycle named Elizabeth during the family’s financial hardships in their poverty-stricken neighborhood.

Tomorrow We Disappear – If you think gentrification in LA is bad, take a look at the plight of the vibrant artist community of Kathputli in Delhi and their forced relocation in the face of modernization, which threatens their way of life.

Amma and Appa – Cultures collide in this charming documentary about the filmmakers’ transnational romance: Franziska, a Bavarian German journalist and Jayakrishnan, a Tamil artist and the hilarity that ensues when their parents meet.

Tigers – Oscar-winning writer-director Danis Tanović’s latest feature is a morality tale about transnational globalism and what one man, Ayan, is moved to do as a pharmaceutical salesman when he finds out his products are killing children. Based on a true story regarding the false promises of infant milk formula sold in Third World countries.

Dhanak – What better film to close the festival than one as uplifting and enchanting as Dhanak? It’s a tale of a sister who takes her blind brother on a journey to fulfill her promise to restore his eyesight, and the adventures and people they encounter along the way.

My Picks for Make Music Pasadena Sat Jun 1

Make Music Pasadena
is on Saturday, June 1, and is a great start to the first month of Summer! What I love about music festivals is also what I hate: too many choices!! Over 150 concerts will be featured there! Add to that conflicting set times and throngs of people to get through and my decision-making falls along 2 groups: great musicians I’ve seen before (and love to support) and new acts to be discovered. You can’t go wrong with any of the great bands playing this Saturday but here are my picks. It’s a free festival but please consider donating $5 to support your local music and festivals like this one! It’s forecast to be 92 in Pasadena, so drink lots of water, don’t forget your sunblock and like the song goes…don’t let the heat get you down!

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