The Latino International Film Festival Goes Virtual With a New Program and a Promising Retrospective

Laliff Edward Olmos BELatina Latinx

If one thing is clear at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that culture will not give up, and that when it comes to educating people, nothing is stronger than its resilience.

That’s what Edward James Olmos, founder of the Latino Film Institute, wanted to demonstrate when he announced that the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) would continue its programming for the 2020 edition, but this time in a completely virtual format.

“We are living in unprecedented times and we must find unprecedented solutions to continue to support our Latino filmmakers and provide them with a platform to showcase their work,” says Olmos in a press release. “Working together with our filmmakers, musicians, partners and sponsors we will be able to celebrate our festival virtually to continue to showcase some of the most inspiring and thought-provoking Latino films of 2020 and share with cinephiles everywhere, from the safety of their homes.” 

Thus, LALIFF is hosting a virtual retrospective program of its 2019 edition from now through May 4, 2020 in anticipation of its 2020 virtual edition, LALIFF Connect, held from May 5 – 31st.  LALIFF Connect 2020 and the 2019 Retrospective will include feature films, short films, episodics, masterclasses and musical performances — all will be available through LALIFF’s website for free with additional titles to be announced.

Films such as The Last Rafter by Carlos Rafael Betancourt and Oscar Ernesto Ortega, Paper Children by Alexandra Codina, and This Is Cristina by Chilean Gonzalo Maza will be presented for the first time, and shed light on the new cinematographic discourses around immigration and identity.

In addition, viewers will be able to enjoy six short films, and a series of masterclasses including Nightlife Curation in the LatinX World with DJ Sizzle of Cumbiatón and Funky Caramelo; LatinX in Animation: A Masterclass with Head of Story of Connected at Sony Pictures Animation Guillermo Martinez, Co-Producer at Walt Disney Animation Studios Yvett Merino, and Creative Producer of The Casagrandes at Nickelodeon Animations Studio Miguel Puga; Music Composition: Masterclass with composer Elik Álvarez, composer Tony Morales, and composers/producers Carl Thiel and Maria Vertiz; and a sound design masterclass with the sound designer of the film The Last Rafter, Paola Magrans.

We are proud to advocate for Latinx artists and musicians, especially at a time where they have been hit the most and share their beautiful sounds. Be sure to dance in your living rooms and don’t worry about the door fee — LALIFF has you covered,” said Managing Director of LALIFF, Alexis de la Rocha. 

The retrospective of LALIFF 2019 and will include three features, nine shorts and three episodics as well as musical performances. The features will include Councilwoman directed by Margo Guernsey and I’ll See You Around directed by Daniel Fermin Pfeffer which will be available online during the entire month of the retrospective (April 14th – May 4th). The program will also host a special virtual event of the film Divine Love directed by Gabriel Mascaro followed by a special presentation with music from DJ José Galvan on April 29th.

And as if that weren’t enough, the organization has scheduled live reading sessions of students’ film scripts from its Youth Cinema Project 2020, introducing “elementary, middle, and high school students to the art of filmmaking,” through a program called YCPLiveReads, in which the Institute will host live readings of its students’ scripts by talents from TV series and films including Gentefied, Vida, Devious Maids, Napoleon Dynamite, among others every Wednesday and Friday at 1pm PDT throughout the month of April.