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The Best in Latino Film

Upcoming LA film festival showcases recent and classic cinema and artistry

By Wendy Celaya
Published on LatinoLA: July 2, 2002


The Best in Latino Film


The 6th Annual Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF), presented by actor, director, producer, activist Edward James Olmos, will return to the famed Egyptian Theatre near the newly opened Hollywood and Highland complex for ten days from July 19th through July 28th, 2002, with a carefully selected program that highlights the very best of recent and classic Latino cinema and artistry.

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival was founded in 1996 as part of the City of Los Angeles' Latino Heritage Month festivities. The founding team was led by LALIFF Executive Director and programmer Marlene Dermer, an independent producer with vast knowledge of Latin American film and programming; George Hernandez, experienced film and music producer; and Olmos. In only six years, LALIFF has grown into the largest Latino International Film festival in the country and the preeminent venue for the exhibition of the highest caliber Latino film and video from throughout the United States, Spain and Latin America. Among the few Latino film festivals in the country, LALIFF offers unprecedented access and connections to the Hollywood studio system, thereby ensuring that participating films are seen by potential buyers and distributors, and that they get extensive public exposure. The Festival enjoys a yearly attendance of more than 20,000 people from Southern California as well as from throughout the U.S., Latin America and Spain.

In 2002 LALIFF returns to its home at the famed Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, presenting more than 60 features, documentaries, and shorts from countries like Argentina, Chile, Peru, Spain, and the United States with an emphasis on Brazilian cinema, including a retrospective of the work of world-renowned Brazilian filmmaker Nelson Pereira dos Santos, who will receive the 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Film highlights include Vidas Privadas (Private Lives), directed by Argentinean music sensation Fito Paez, O Invasor, (The Trespasser - Brazil), winner of this year's Best Latin American Film at Sundance. Also from Brazil Domesticas O Filme (Maids) and Lavoura Arcaica (To the Left of the Father). From Mexico, De la Calle (Streeters), which swept that country?s Ariel Awards recently. From the United States, Windows, a moving documentary about the undocumented Hispanic workers who lost their lives while working at Windows on the World Restaurant atop New York's World Trade Center. From Bolivia, the stunning classic film Mina Alaska, which is being restored by the American Motion Picture Academy.

LALIFF will present opening, closing and Lifetime Achievement Gala events and programs such as Women's Visions, Modern Classics, First-Time Directors, Music Program and a Children's Program. The Festival also offers a wide variety of workshops, panels, seminars, galas and a writer's lab.

In addition to the broad selection of films and galas, LALIFF has developed a strong reputation as a resource for up-and-coming filmmakers and film/TV professionals seeking access to greater opportunities within the Hollywood film industry. During the festival, visiting filmmakers are invited to private luncheons hosted by and held at major studios such as Fox, Disney and Warner Bros. Via direct interactions with Hollywood production executives and film buyers, LALIFF is instrumental in helping visiting filmmakers secure distribution for their films, as well as exposing them to other employment opportunities in Hollywood. Last year, the film Manuela Saenz secured distribution at LALIFF. This year, sponsor representatives from entertainment companies will be present at the festival scouting for potential film acquisitions.

This year marks the first time a "Premier Sponsor" has supported the festival. Blockbuster, the global leader in rentable home entertainment, and DEJ Productions, Inc., the film acquisition and distribution subsidiary of Blockbuster Inc., have embraced the Los Angeles Latino Film Festival as the inaugural Premiere Sponsor. In addition, the acquisitions team from DEJ Productions will be attending all ten days to foster creative opportunities.

As the only major studio to participate as a presenting sponsor, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment joins in support of LALIFF this year. Along with sister division and long time LALIFF supporter Fox Searchlight, the two Fox Film Entertainment companies are committed to supporting the efforts of Latino filmmakers. Both Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Fox Searchlight executives will be in attendance at numerous events to explore potential home entertainment and theatrical distribution opportunities.

A recognized industry leader, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment is the marketing, sales and distribution company for all Fox film and television programming on VHS and DVD as well as video acquisitions and original productions.

Every year LALIFF pays homage to legends of the film industry that paved the way for today?s Latino filmmakers. Staying within the Brazilian theme of this year's festivities, the 6th Annual Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival is proud to announce that it will present the Gabriel Figueroa Lifetime Achievement Award (The Gabi) to Brazilian Film Director Nelson Pereira dos Santos. Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Nelson Pereira dos Santos is considered by many as the pioneer of Cinema Novo. This film movement is characterized by its intent on showing a realistic view of Brazilian society and the increasing gaps between the rich and poor. Among his most renowned works are the films Rio, 40 Graus (1955) (Rio, 40 Degrees), his first feature, Como Era Gostoso o Meu Frances (1971) (How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman), Memorias do C?rcere (1984) (Memories from Prison), and Vidas Secas (l963) (Barren Lives) that is said to have launched the Cinema Novo movement. Dos Santos? films will be screened throughout the festival in a retrospective of his body of work. This Award, named after unforgettable cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, is recognition to the achievements of a lifetime dedicated to the art of film, and a way to say thank you for the contributions and legacies to this fascinating and thought-provoking medium.

During the last five years, LALIFF has bestowed the Gabi Lifetime Achievement Award on personalities whose body of work has achieved international acclaim, leaving a perennial legacy. The recipient of the first Gabi award was the great Gabriel Figueroa (1997), after whom the award was baptized. Other recipients were Raul Julia (1998), Carlos Saura (1999), Mar?a F?lix (2000), and Anthony Quinn (2001).

LALIFF recognizes the best films in several categories during its Awards Ceremony. A distinguished jury of film industry insiders selects winners in the following classifications: Best Film (The Rita Award),

Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Documentary and Best Short. Additionally, LALIFF also bestows an Audience Award to the best film, chosen by the festival?s audiences.

Firmly committed to education, LALIFF also presents an annual Youth Program that introduces elementary, middle and high school students from the Los Angeles Unified School District to the art and craft of filmmaking, story telling and literacy. Working in conjunction with the Los Angeles Unified School District, LALIFF offers LA-area students exposure to career possibilities though enriched educational experiences.

In addition to the public screenings, which are priced at $8.00 per general admission ticket or a family pack of four (4) at $5.00 per ticket, LALIFF is highlighted by several special events, including the glamorous Opening Gala, which will be held on July 19th, The Lifetime Achievement Award Gala on July 27th and the Closing Night/Awards Ceremony on July 28th. Tickets go on sale June 29th. To buy tickets, please contact LALIFF's office at (323) 469-9066 or stop by the Egyptian Theatre Box office.


About Wendy Celaya:
More about the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival at http://www.latinofilm.org




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