Top Picks for NYE 2016 in Los Angeles!

15 Film Picks (5)
by Tom Nguyen

When I’m considering where to spend New Year’s Eve in Los Angeles, I look for 3 things:

  • Great live bands or dance music we typically cover on this site.
  • It won’t break the bank (Some free, most under $40).
  • Whether big or small events, I’m looking for good vibes, not pretentiousness.

If you’re looking for the same, here are my recommendations (in order of cost) all across LA: Downtown, Silver Lake, Hollywood, Mid City, Santa Monica and Long Beach: Continue Reading →

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 →

Here’s our Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2015 in LA and a word about Cultural Appropriation

by Tom Nguyen

Dia de los Muertos is upon us as the weather in LA finally starts to feel a little bit like Fall! As I repeat from last year’s post, as the holiday gains mainstream popularity, cultural appropriation seems inevitable as more and more people “discover” the holiday. I consider myself part of that problem since I myself was discovering Dia de los Muertos as a more culturally deep alternative to commercialized Halloween. As a person of Asian descent who’s called out racist stereotyping in other costumes and cultural events around LA, I am trying to educate myself where the line is between cultural appreciation vs. cultural appropriation when it comes to this tradition as well.

So please know that I publish this list of Dia de los Muertos events in support and respect of the communities, the artists, the musicians, the cultural organizations and the small businesses, who work so hard to preserve and celebrate the roots and traditions of this important time of year. For people new to this holiday, please ask this question yourself and don’t be afraid to ask people in the community: how do I participate in this holiday in a respectful manner?

The first step to genuine cultural appreciation is to educate yourself on the tradition’s history and significance to the communities where it originates. Get to know the community and issues that affect people in it, beyond just donning face paint for your entertainment one day a year. If I can extrapolate further, don’t just enjoy black traditions of music and dance and not care about #BlackLivesMatter. Don’t just enjoy the great LA street food and not care about poverty, lack of opportunity and criminalization of undocumented immigrants. Don’t just wear a coolie hat in Chinatown and not care about why there’s a Chinatown in the first place. So please keep this in mind and I hope to see you at one of these great Dia de los Muertos events!

By no means is this list complete — there are so many great Dia de los Muertos events all over Southern California, I couldn’t possibly list them all. For a more complete list, check out this one. Events below are all ages and free, unless otherwise noted. (Click on each event to jump to more information and scroll down for a list you can print):

Sat, October 17

Fri, October 23

Sat, October 24

Sun, October 25

Mon, October 26 – Fri, October 30

Thu, October 29

Fri, October 30

Sat, October 31

Sun, November 1

Mon, November 2

Wed, November 4

Fri, November 6

Sat, November 7

Sun, November 8

EnClave LA guide to Dia de los Muertos 2015

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 →

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.

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.

Continue Reading →

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.

Forget Halloween…Here’s our Guide to Dia de los Muertos 2014 in LA & SoCal!

by Tom Nguyen

October means a popular holiday is creeping up fast: the one time of the year the living and the dead mingle, and children and adults alike dress up. No, I’m not talking about Halloween. I’m referring to the culturally rich celebrations of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and there is no shortage of where to celebrate in our beautifully diverse Los Angeles and nearby areas! Especially with Halloween Oct. 31 falling on Friday, there are going to be multiple opportunities to celebrate Day of the Dead on both Saturday Nov. 1 and Sunday Nov. 2, as well as the weekends before and after!

Continue Reading →

Our Hot LA Picks for Valentine’s Week!

Valentine’s Day is a week away: You haven’t made plans yet? Or you’ve got no one to spend it with? Or maybe you’re just not buying into the whole Hallmark Holiday hype? Well, there’s something for everyone leading up to Valentine’s in LA…at least for those of us looking for more than just a once-a-year-gesture. If you’re looking for something with more cultural substance, worldly stimulation, and plenty of gyrating & sweating on the dance floors in our romantic city, look no further. Here are our recommendations, LA lovers….so relax, don’t put this much pressure on yourself….(take a date or find one at Irene Diaz‘s show and more!)

Continue Reading →

Our Picks for the 15th Annual Eagle Rock Music Festival

The Eagle Rock Music Festival returns on Saturday, October 5, from 4-10pm! It’s an annual all-ages event hosted by the nonprofit Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock (CFAER), and coincides with their anniversary. To support their work in providing innovative music and arts for the Northeast LA community, all they ask is a $10 donation at the festival, featuring multiple stages with different tastes for everyone. These are some of the acts we’re keen to see…

Main Stage     Americana Stage      RANTZ Automotive Stage      Punk/Metal/Hard Rock Stage     Experimental Stage