Payan and Pocha's 4th Annual OC Film Fiesta

We have a great line up of films, workshops and special guest stars this year, September 6 - 15

By Victor Payan & Pocha Pe??a
Published on LatinoLA: September 5, 2013

Payan and Pocha's 4th Annual OC Film Fiesta

Dear Friends,

Our 4th OC Film Fiesta starts tomorrow, and we wanted to share this great article in today's OC Register (read it below)! The Film Fiesta, which runs from Sept. 6-15, is free and open to the public.

We have a great line up of films, workshops and special guest stars this year, including:

- Free Opening Night screening of "Mariachi Gringo," starring Lila Downs, Shawn Ashmore and Yareli Arizmendi w/ Q&A with Yareli Arizmendi

- "Writing for TV" workshop with The Simpsons Executive Producer/Writer Marc Wilmore

- "Bringing King to China" documentary w/ Q&A with director Kevin McKiernan and invited guest, cinematographer Haskell Wexler

- A Philip K. Dick Tribute featuring a special screening of the new film "Radio Free Albemuth," an adaptation of the legendary sci fi author's book, which was written in Orange County

- A Youth and Community Screening featuring films from local media programs, including our own youth Cinema Camp.

- Spotlights on Science Fiction and Indigenous Voices

- A Quinceanera Mini-Expo which includes vendors, a screening of the award-winning indie film "Alondra Smiles" and a fashion show featuring the entire line of Disney's Royal Ball dresses.

As all of our screenings are free and open to the public, support from friends and community members is critical to providing a quality film festival that is open and accessible to Southern California's diverse community!

There's still time to be part of this year's festival as a sponsor or supporter, and we hope you will consider making a contribution to our cinematic celebration of Orange County's diversity and multicultural history!

If you have any questions or are interested in supporting the OC Film Fiesta, please call us at 619-701-0073 or visit the link below.


We are thanking you in advance for your kind consideration and hope you enjoy the great OC Register article below. A full lineup of films and special events is available on our website, www.ocfilmfiesta.org.


Victor Payan & Pocha Pe??a

Originally published at The Orange County Register.

OC Film Fiesta launches its fourth annual foray


2013-09-04 17:31:15

From an intimate and work-filled office on the second floor of the historic Spurgeon Building in downtown Santa Ana, Sandra "Pocha" Pe??a and Victor Payan run their projects. Most of them are culturally themed. Both are filmmakers who have a lot of experience organizing film festivals, so there's a fair amount of promotional material, video equipment and detritus hanging about from those experiences.

The latest project is the OC Film Fiesta, which kicks off its fourth annual foray Friday night. The opening movie is "Mariachi Gringo," which won some big awards at the 2012 Guadalajara Film Festival, including best Mexican feature and best actress. It's in English and Spanish with subtitles. The film stars Lila Downs and Yareli Arizmendi from "Like Water for Chocolate" and "A Day without a Mexican." Arizmendi is scheduled to attend Friday's screening.

"Mariachi Gringo" will be accompanied by an opening celebration at Fiesta Twin Theatres, complete with live mariachis.

Film festival director Pe??a who also goes by "Pocha Pe??a" and Sandra Sarmiento knows how to throw a party and manage a film fest. She's done it before, in Santa Ana and two other major cities.

"This is a celebration of Orange County's cultural diversity in the heart of Orange County, in the county seat and in the heart of its most diverse city," said Pe??a, who lives on the east side of Santa Ana.

Her husband, Payan, has been a film fest cohort for many years and certainly helps with logistics and communications. He holds a degree from Stanford, after all.

"The movie theater is where you can have a shared, common, cultural experience," Payan said.

Pe??a is obviously proud of Santa Ana, and wants others to share her enthusiasm. She also possesses a love of film, and of presenting them in the context of cultures from Latino to Asian to whatever group (or hyphen) you want to put in front of "American."

"What we hope to accomplish is to create a cultural crossroads of different communities and we want to bring them together using cinema," said Pe??a, 44, who was born and raised in Orange County (Orange, Tustin, Santa Ana), yet has also lived in San Diego and San Antonio, Texas, where for two years she co-directed CineFestival, the nation's longest running Latino film festival.

So why does she think cinema is such a powerful medium?

"Because cinema is the most powerful transmitter of culture that exists, because it's multi-disciplinary," she says. "It's an immersive experiential thing."


After opening night, the OC Film Fiesta is going to feature an eclectic lineup for Saturday, from the documentaries "Our Nixon" at 1 p.m. and "Bringing King to China" at 3 p.m., to a panel on festivals and art house cinema at 5 p.m. A local web series about the Santa Ana music scene will screen at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The documentary "Our Nixon" draws from actual home movies shot on Super 8 video cameras by Nixon aides H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman and Dwight Chapman. Some of the scenes also appeared in an art exhibition earlier this year, "Deborah Aschheim: Involuntary Memories" at the Orange County Great Park Gallery in Irvine.

Saturday night's film will be a screening of the restored Argentine print of Fritz Lang's 1927 sci-fi classic, "Metropolis." This event, featuring live musical accompaniment, is actually a fundraiser co-presented by Long Beach Cinemateque and supporters of the new Frida Cinema arthouse movie theater scheduled to open in Santa Ana in December.

On Sunday, "Santa Ana Youth and Community Screenings" are scheduled for 2 p.m., followed by the 3:45 p.m. program "Ambulante Mas Alla," featuring films from Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal's new indigenous media program and film festival.

Both of those guys are known for movies together and apart, including "Rudo y Cursi," "Babel," "Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights" and "Y Tu Mam? Tambi?n."

At 5:30 p.m. Sunday, the OC Film Fiesta will present "Apache Chronicle," a documentary about five female Apache artists and skateboarders. The big Sunday night film is a bit of an odd choice, "John Carter" at 7 p.m. Yes, that "John Carter," the one that cost Buena Vista and the Walt Disney Co. about $250 million to make. It was a box office bomb, at least by domestic ticket-sale standards. To date, "John Carter" has grossed about $73 million domestically, with a $30 million opening weekend, according to boxofficemojo.com.

Payan, the festival's development director, says the movie contains an intriguing, engaging story, and it should have been titled "A Princess of Mars," which was the original title of the 1917 book by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

"John Carter" stars Taylor Kitsch, Willem Dafoe and Lynn Collins, and was directed by Andrew Stanton, an Academy Award winner who also directed "Toy Story," "WALL-E" and "Finding Nemo."

While "John Carter" crashed and burned at the U.S. box office, it did well abroad, and was the highest grossing film in Russian history and one of the highest in modern Chinese history, Payan notes.

"It's a Western set in space," said Payan, 44. "Critics are saying it was marketed wrong, but its actual audience it wasn't marketed towards them. You have brown people in positions of power." That apparently had resonances abroad, and could have captured an audience among Latinos and other communities in the United States.

Another OC Film Fiesta surprise is "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" a sci-fi flick with a protagonist who is half Japanese and travels through galaxies and different dimensions. The 1984 film featured an all-star cast for its time, including Peter Weller ("Robocop"), John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd and Rosalind Cash.

"Buckaroo Banzai" also included Pepe Serna, an actor and Orange County resident who has enjoyed a long career in TV and film, including roles in "Scarface," "Silverado," "American Me" and the short-lived TV series, "Resurrection Blvd." Serna will participate in a Q&A session after the film.
Science fiction is one of the driving themes of this year's OC Film Fiesta. So are indigenous peoples' stories.

On Sept. 14, the festival will present a comic fan fest from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. and a Philip K. Dick tribute starting at 6 p.m. Dick was a well-known science fiction author and longtime Orange County resident. His novels have been adapted into many successful movies, including "Blade Runner," "Minority Report," Total Recall" and "A Scanner Darkly."

Dick spent much of his life in Fullerton and Santa Ana. His Orange County experiences are reflected in voluminous detail in "A Scanner Darkly," which became a cult hit film starring Keanu Reaves, Robert Downey Jr. and Winona Ryder.

The tribute will be followed by the Southern California premiere of "Radio Free Albemuth," a 2010 movie based on the Dick novel of the same name.
"Radio Free Albemuth" is a sci-fi flick that explores a magical, mystical interaction with VALIS, a sort of energy vortex located (by more than one account) somewhere in Garden Grove, near Crystal Cathedral. The movie stars Jonathan Scarfe, Shea Whigham, Katheryn Winnick, Alanis Morissette and Hanna Hall.

The final day of the film fest, Sept. 15, will include the feature "East Los High" at 5 p.m. and conclude with "Alondra Smiles: A Quincea??era Story." That 7 p.m. movie follows a working class Latina girl who's on the verge of her 15th birthday celebration. "Alondra Smiles" will be preceded by a quincea??era fashion show.


Festival director Pe??a doesn't care who you are or where you live. She wants everyone to come out to the OC Film Fiesta. Did we mention that every screening (except for "Metropolis") and every event, including panels and receptions, is free? That got your attention.

Funding for the film fest is provided by MX Live, a Santa Ana-based promoter. The OC Film Fiesta is an official presentation of the city of Santa Ana; the city's Parks and Public Library division also has a hand in overseeing it.
The festival doesn't get money from the city. And because of contractual agreements, the OC Film Fiesta is not permitted to charge for tickets for this festival (except for the "Metropolis" fundraiser).

Thus, for Pe??a, Payan and a host of volunteers and sponsors, the OC Film Fiesta has become a true labor of love. Pocha Pe??a, who sees herself as a cultural activist, likes to see people from different backgrounds get together.

"We are a very diverse county, and we have been. But there's always been that mythology 'The O.C.,' and 'The Real Housewives of Orange County.' The movie 'Orange County' and (TV series) 'Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County' that kind of took things off balance. Festivals like this are a really healthy return to reality. We're constantly having new people come in, new cultures coming in. The way that we can engage with each other without conflict (is to) really get to know each other in social way.

"(Cinema is) great for breaking down that illusion of separation between humans."

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