Including interviews with Lou Diamond Phillips and Gina Rodriguez
by Alejandra Enciso Guzmán
The San Diego Latino Film Festival is celebrating it’s 20th consecutive year of hard work and film screenings from all over Latin America in the United States. A remarkable effort–small or low budget films which often depend solely on word of mouth, get the opportunity to receive an important amount of exposure during the festival, and even, maybe, a distributor. Such was the case of the Cuban film Juan de los muertos (Juan of the dead) a dark comedy that was a part of the 2012 Latino film festival and earned the Goya Award, the premier film award in Spain, as well as Best Foreign Picture and other prestigious international awards.
Filly Brown, a hit from the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, was a much anticipated premiere for the community. The big names in the cast include Edward James Olmos, Lou Diamond Phillips, late singer Jenni Rivera and rising star Gina Rodriguez as Filly Brown. The film follows Filly Brown’s trajectory as an amateur rapper from inner city Los Angeles who seeks to enter the world of hip hop stardom with her striking lyrics.
Diamond Phillips, Gina Rodriguez, Braxton Millz and Chrissie Fit all came out to San Diego in support of their film. “I have been working a long time, this has not been overnight for me. I have been fighting for my dreams and I will keep fighting. We Latinos don’t have a lot of “‘handouts” so we have to fight and make a voice for that voiceless,” said Rodriguez. “Filly Brown is that voice to me the same way Selena was, the same way La Bamba was. These are movies that made a statement and are monumental in your life.”
“We have a movie that is not only good, but that we can all relate to. We need to show the world that this movie can open doors to any other Latino film after that and make them just…films, not “Latino films.” Like every other movie out there,” shared the rising star. Very sad, but very true as well; there are a lot of films out there (not just Latino) that do not get past the festivals and are great great stories.
I asked Lou Diamond Phillips who has been in show business for 25 years, what his take was on the difficulty of finding a distributor for this type of movie making. “It’s a small film, and as a small film, it needs a lot of support. It is not one of these tentpole franchises that the big studios do and that they throw millions of dollars at. There’s a lot of movies out there that aren’t great that make a lot of money because they are marketed well.”
“This movie needs festivals like these to get the community behind it and get the word out. It will start out small and hopefully will go from there,” he added. “When certain movies fall into the cracks, it is sad because it is not necessarily a reflection of the film. You can make the best film but if it does not get commercials or marketing and people don’t know about it, people are not going to see it. And Hollywood is going to keep saying the same thing ‘look it did not make any money.’ It’s a total chicken or the egg situation. A catch 22. And that is why I am here, to talk about the movie and get the word out and try to make a difference because there is no other way.”
Hollywood will continue doing big blockbusters. The window for pictures like Filly Brown, however, is small and brief. Audiences do get their say when they go out and support good movies–and have fun doing it.
Filly Brown will have a Screening this Saturday 03/16 at 2:00pm, Mission Valley Hazard Center
The Latino Film Festival continues through March 17th at Mission Valley Hazard Center. Celebrities, directors and producers have showcased their work as well as interacted with fans and media. “The festival will showcase a total of 160 films from Latin America, Mexico, Spain and the United States. A little bit of everything like documentaries, short films, family films, extreme cinema and horror. The point here is to celebrate Latin cinema” explained Ethan Van Thillo, Executive Director and Founder of the Latino Film Festival.
For this and other movie showtimes please go to: www.sdlatinofilm.com
Alejandra Enciso Guzmán is an arts consultant and reporter in both Tijuana and San Diego. @Riselah / @Riselaheng