A World of Latino Creativity Taking Place in San Diego

By Marielena Castellanos

Latino arts and culture events are in full swing throughout the county, with several worth seeing. Eight acclaimed films from Mexico will be shown on the big screen at North Park’s Digital Gym Cinema. In Carlsbad, telenovelas take centerstage in a play exploring death, grieving, and language and cultural barriers. In Fallbrook, the theme of “Sanctuary,” escaping violence and finding a safe place to live are the inspiration of an art exhibit.

The Media Arts Center San Diego’s Digital Gym Cinema, which also organizes the San Diego Latino Film Festival each year, is co-presenting a traveling film festival known as the Hola Mexico Film Festival. Eight of the most popular and acclaimed recently released movies in Mexico will be featured at festival running from October 19 – October 25. Each film is presented in Spanish with English subtitles. A list of the complete program is available on the Digital Gym Cinema’s website: https://digitalgym.org. Regular admission tickets cost $11, student, senior, and veteran tickets $8.50, and Digital Gym Cinema Member tickets $7.50.

Moises Esparza, programing manager for the Media Arts Center San Diego, commented on the Hola Mexico Film Festival in San Diego, “We are proud to be the official headquarters of this selection.”

Esparza also pointed out some of this year’s highlights, “Hola Mexico is full of movies never before released in our city as “Sacudete las penas” and “Eras mi pasión”, and also includes several titles such as “Los adioses” and VUELVEN that were among the highlights of the recent edition of the San Diego Latino Film Festival.”

“The selection is unforgettable and we are sure that it will please all those who love movies from Mexico,” Esparza added.

Oscar winner Guillermo del Toro has hailed “Vuelven,” and said it is one of the best Mexican films in recent years. The dark fantasy is a heartfelt genre which tells the story of a young 10-year-old who has three wishes, one of those is for her missing mother to return. The film takes off when that wish is granted.

“Sacúdete las penas bailando” is a story of passion and freedom. Set in the 1950s, the film tells the story of prisoner Pepe Frituras, the most famous dancer from Mexico condemned to spend his time behind bars. It takes place at the Lecumberri Palace, once one of the most dangerous prisons in Mexico, also known as the “Black Palace,” which housed a number of famous personalities including muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros, who also painted a mural at the prison.

The festival also includes the award-winning film, “Oso Polar,” a road trip movie about three friends from childhood who relive laughs, hurts, and hates as adults which was shot with an iPhone 5.

Director Marcelo Tobar said the idea to film the movie on a cell phone came by accident, and in an interview with the television program “Excelsior Informa” said when it comes to film his production proves “There is no ‘it can’t be done.’”

In Carlsbad New Village Arts’ (NVA) Teatro Pueblo Nuevo continues with the San Diego premiere of “Guadalupe in the Guest Room,” a play written by rising playwright Tony Meneses and directed by NVA’s Associate Artistic Director Nadia Guevara. The play runs until October 28, 2018.

It tells the story of two people with nothing in common, but a shared grief over a family member, who bond in the most unexpected ways. It’s described as a deeply moving and very funny celebration of life, new beginnings, and the healing power of telenovelas.

The play first premiered in 2015 Guevara explained and added she was, “Excited to produce the West Coast premiere of it at New Village Arts, as part of the Teatro Pueblo Nuevo initiative designed to put the Latinx narrative center stage.”

“The play’s themes of grief, loss, and family are universal, but the magic of the telenovela coming to life and offering healing, humor and understanding offered that bit of magic that I love to explore as a theatre-maker,” Guevara said.

Teatro Pueblo Nuevo (TPN) is New Village Art’s bilingual bicultural community outreach initiative created to honor Latinx culture and history in North County, which began its programming last year. It was spearheaded by Guevara who was featured in the San Diego Union Tribune as a “rising local theatre force.”

TPN’s first main stage production was in January of this year, CLOUD TECTONICS by Jose Rivera, and was met with critical acclaim. Herbert Sigüenza, co-founder of Culture Clash and voice of Pixar’s COCO, directed the show, and Nadia Guevara starred in the play.

A complete list of the dates and times of the play’s performances can be found on the New Village Arts website at http://www.newvillagearts.org. Ticket prices range from $33 to $36.

In the North County, the Fallbrook Library presents an exhibit with original artwork around the theme of “Sanctuary,” showcasing the works of Latino artists from Los Angeles and Tijuana.

Carol Zaleski, a member of the Friends of Fallbrook Library Board of Directors, said the exhibit addresses finding a safe place, a sanctuary, “In these times when violence and fear threaten many people in many parts of the world.”

The exhibit explores the political and social climate of fear that exists today in many countries because of war and conflict, and is forcing people to leave their homes, seek refuge and find sanctuary. It has been shown in other parts of California, including Pomona and Pasadena.

A reception will be held Friday, October 19, 2018 at the Fallbrook Library from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. to honor and meet the artists. Musica Sin Fronteras will perform Latin American music.

Food will also be provided. The exhibit is free to the public and runs through November 2, 2018.

Mario A. Hernandez, with LA Plaza de Culturas y Artes in Los Angeles and who was one of the curators of the exhibit said, “We chose to do a Latinx art exhibit with the Sanctuary theme in mind, because of the urge for artists to communicate and express current unfair political/global issues.”

“Through art, artists speak their minds and project their response to injustice. An art composition may communicate so many messages without saying a word.”