How LALIFF’s 2021 Edition Became a Living Proof of Resilience

LALIFF 2021 BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of and LALIFF

Although we might sometimes forget we are in the middle of a pandemic, this second year of COVID’s “new normal” it’s marked with a gradual return to our pre-2020 lives. However, the adaptation period is far from over.

However, events like the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, LALIFF, have shown the world its resilience — even in the strangest of times.

While the early months of the pandemic, filled with fear and uncertainty, left many people in the dark, and as offices and education centers improvised their new spaces indoors, LALIFF pulled through.

In the midst of the storm and against the clock, the festival team launched LALIFF Connect 2020, which allowed people to watch films virtually. They knew it was imperative to mold to the new world COVID-19 created and did so seemingly effortlessly.

“We immediately knew that people needed our presence,” said Diana Cadavid, LALIFF’s Artistic Director, to BELatina. “I think it was very important that we showed our support and that we tried to keep the connection with our audience, even though we couldn’t see each other.”

Now, and on the crest of the second chapter of the pandemic, LALIFF is once again letting the world know that they are ready for what’s coming.

LALIFF’s new format

This year, the festival announced that its event will be hybrid. That is, it will feature both on-site and virtual programming.

“After such a challenging year, LALIFF comes stronger than ever, with a diverse program that is testament to the creativity and resilience of our artists,” Cadavid said. “Our combination of in-person and virtual events is designed to enhance our viewership experience and to ensure that everyone can enjoy the rich offering of films, episodics, music, and art that we have carefully curated.”

Since its conception in 1997, LALIFF has focused on providing a platform for various types of Hispanic-authored audiovisual formats. In 2009, the festival included 75 films, such as the screening of Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar’s ‘Broken Embraces’ at Grauman’s Chinese Theater.

Today, the festival is one of the key platforms for new talent.

A Platform For Many Voices

“We’ve become the voice of communities who don’t necessarily have or lack a voice,” Cadavid added.

This year, the festival will run from Wednesday, June 2, through Sunday, June 6. It will feature films, episodic films, music, XR projects, and short films, including those from LALIFF’s inaugural Latino Inclusion Fellowship Series.

For Maria Corina Ramirez, Venezuelan actress and director whose film ‘Bridges’ has been selected to screen at this year’s edition, “to be in a space that specifically celebrates Latino voices, is really special. To get to show our stories, big and small, in the heart of Hollywood at the iconic Chinese Theatres is a humbling reminder that there is room for all of us,” she told us in an interview via email.

A Venezuelan-born, Miami-raised actress, Ramirez graduated from the New World School of the Arts with a degree in acting and has an extensive background in front of the camera.

Maria Corina starred in and co-wrote Complex Network’s first scripted series, ‘Grown,’ which was HBO’s Project Greenlight winning digital series.

Her latest work will be part of the lineup for the in-person screenings at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Ramirez set out to make “the film I wish I had while I was growing up undocumented.”

The idea was to make a candid account of her experience, a coming-of-age film about emigration’s everyday triumphs and grievances.

“But a film that at the very same time also cherishes and celebrates the beauty of that pain and of a tight-knit, loving family like the one I was raised in; a film that revealed in the astounding resilience that many immigrants possess- that practice of having doors shut in your face day in and day out and somehow still managing to wake up the next day hoping and working for a brighter tomorrow.”

“The more we get to share the nuances of each of our own stories, the more the rest of us could feel seen, reflected, and less alone in our journeys,” Ramirez told us.

And it is precisely that space that events like LALIFF want to guarantee, against all odds.