2019 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival to Focus on U.S. Latinx Talent

Courtesy of LALIFF
Olmos (left) and Agustin

The festival co-founded by Edward James Olmos will take place July 31 to Aug. 4 at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Latin American filmmakers have earned much critical acclaim (and several Oscars) in recent years, but the 2019 edition of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, which takes place July 31 to Aug. 4 at the TCL Chinese Theatre, will put the spotlight on Latinx talent from the United States.

"LALIFF has become the preeminent destination for Latinx storytellers and this year we want to spotlight our homegrown U.S. community of filmmakers, musicians, students, TV writers, visual artists, digital producers and podcasters," said Edward James Olmos, who co-founded the festival in 1997 with independent producers Marlene Dermer, George Hernandez and Kirk Whisler. In its early years, it has premiered short films from Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro G. Inarritu; today, the festival is run by executive director and Jane the Virgin writer Rafael Agustin.

In 2013 LALIFF took a five-year break from holding annual festivals (it returned last year); the organizers instead focused on the Youth Cinema Project, an outgrowth of the festival's youth program. This year YCP launched its first-ever scholarship for high school students who demonstrate academic progress and filmmaking prowess. The inaugural recipient attends Santa Ana High and will complete a paid internship with LALIFF as part of the program.

Both LALIFF and YCP are part of the Latino Film Institute, which this year added Ana-Christina Ramon, director of research and civic engagement at UCLA's Division of Social Sciences and co-author of the annual Hollywood Diversity Report, to its board of directors. "As the largest minority group in the U.S. and one whose buying power outpaces other groups, Latinos are still severely underrepresented in film and TV," Ramon said in a statement. "My goal is to provide the data necessary to enact meaningful change and motivate those in the industry to make content that is authentic and representative of how the majority of Latinos and other people of color live and work in America."

Submissions for LALIFF 2019 are now open at latinofilm.org. The festival is programmed by artistic director Diana Sanchez (a TIFF international programmer) and director of programming Dilcia Barrera (Sundance feature films programmer).