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San Diego Fstival is up for a new start with 15th edition

What started as a student exhibition- A Student Film Festival (Cine Estudiantil), has grown to become the internationally celebrated San Diego Latino Film Festival in its 15th anniversary edition, from March from 6-16, 2008 at UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas at Hazard Center, presented this year by State Farm Insurance. “Eleven days of great films and guests, and being able to fundraise for a non-profit organization that provides funds which make possible a year round programming to support local youth in the use of digital media technology – it’s about empowering youth, therefore being true to our beginnings”, announced Ethan van Thillo, Executive Director of the Media Arts Center of San Diego.
Starting the celebration with a real example of coming of age, this year the San Diego Latino Film Festival 2008 edition brings back a former student filmmaker from Cine Estudiantil 1995, Director Rodrigo Plá with his film La Zona (Mexico/Spain). Now an esteemed award winner at both the Venice and Toronto International Film Festivals, he first came to San Diego with his student film in 1996. La Zona grabs audiences and won’t let go! Residents of an enclosed compound in the middle of Mexico DF are shocked by a violent crime. For one resident in particular, young Alejandro, the drama is ratcheted up when he encounters the lone youth who escaped the event and is hiding out within the neighborhood's borders. Stars Daniel Jiménez Cacho and Maribel Verdú.
On the other hand, the festival also brings back who once visited us as an actor; Diego Luna with his directorial debut J.C. Chavez. Diego Luna gets behind the camera with this documentary about Mexican boxing legend, Julio César
Chavez, a national hero who has a record of over 100 wins and only 6 losses. The film is punctuated with personal interviews of family and friends together with international celebrities (Oscar De La Hoya, Don King, Mike Tyson, and Steve Wynn). Make sure to stay for Diego Luna's heartfelt closing comments during the ending credits.
La misma Luna (Mexico) by Patricia Rigen reunites a talent of must see; Kate del Castillo, America Ferrera and Eugenio Derbez. A young boy crosses the Mexican/US border to be reunited with his mother after his grandmother passes away in Mexico. The film was screened this past year at Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals.
El Lugar Sin Límites/Hell Has No Limits is Arturo Ripstein's 1978 classic groundbreaking classic Mexican film based on the international best selling novel by Chilean José Donoso; about an aging transvestite who lives in a brothel run by his daughter. The film's frank dealing with homosexuality was decades ahead of its time. A bittersweet dissection of machismo and homophobia in Latin America, Arturo Ripstein won the Golden Ariel Award from the Academy Awards of Mexico, with Roberto Cobo receiving the Silver Ariel for Best Actor for his portrayal of La Manuela. Arturo Ripstein will be in attendance at this year’s festival along with his most recent film El Carnaval de Sodoma.
From the US comes Juan Frances- Live! by Amy French (Chasing Papi). Special Pre-Release Screening: Norman Lear and George Lopez produced this Irreverent musical mockumentary, that skewers the LA rags-to-riches celebrity making machine and ethnic identity, as it follows the rise of Juan Frances from the half-empty soccer bars of East LA to international fame. Stars Danny Trejo ("Spy Kids) and Lupe Ontiveros (Desperate Housewives, Tortilla Heaven).
In an effort to restore fading classics from Mexican Cinema, two 1950’s cult Sci-Fi classics, La Nave de los Monstruos (Ship of Monsters) and El Planeta de las mujeres invasoras (Planet of the Women Invaders) have been restored to glorious black and white. Both films star Lorena Velazquez, who reigned as the quintessential vamp of B Movies for nearly three decades. Think Zsa Zsa Gabor in Queen of Outer Space and you’ll quickly get the mood of these bathing-suit clad women-as-aliens.
These films will be shown along with two modern Mexican horror films; KM31 and Martha Higareda’s horror remake Hasta El Viento Tiene Miedo.
From Puerto Rico, comes their official submission to the Best Foreign Language Film Category of the 80th Annual Academy Awards 2008, Maldeamores (Lovesickness) by Carlos Ruíz Ruíz. Starring Luis Guzman (Traffic) and Executive Produced by Benicio Del Toro, this captivating film provides a three-part look at the ironies of love, and shares stories that involve a young boy, a hostage situation, and a divorced elderly couple caught up in a love triangle.
In celebration of International Women’s Day on Saturday, March 8th, the San Film Festival will be showcasing films by and about Women.
Argentina is the festival’s focus country for this year’s film festival and we have an astonishing, critically acclaimed feature that explores the painful search for gender identity of a teenage who is born a hermaphrodite, and upon entering adolescence and is pressured by parents to “choose” an identity. Handled with great sensitivity, XXY by Lucia Puenzo, has won film accolades all over the world, including coveted awards at last year's Cannes Film Festival. The film was Argentina's Official Selection for 2008 Oscars. Stars acclaimed actor, Ricardo Darin.
Among other classic films and a fantastic short film program, is El Camino de San Diego. A young Argentine backwoodsman learns that soccer star Diego Armando Maradona is ailing in a Buenos Aires hospital, and resolves to bring him a tree root he's uncovered; it’s a root that he is certain looks just like his idol. Tracing a pilgrimage filled with humor, writer-director Carlos Sorin spins a delightfully offbeat tale about the roles that fate, religion and idolatry can play in life.
The festival will also highlight a strong series of films that explore the Jewish-Latino experience in films from Mexico, Argentina, and Chile including Cara de Queso (Cheesehead), El Brindis, Forging A Nation, and Laberintos de la Memoria.
Cine Gay will feature this year; Itty Bitty Titty Committee (US). "But I'm A Cheerleader" and "D.E.B.S." Director Jamie Babbit returns with a romantic comedy with an edge; a lesbian rock and roll romp. Rising Latina star Melonie Diaz (A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints) stars as a young, shy all-American girl in search of herself as she pursues the woman of her dreams, a politically radical feminist. This non-profit female powered film was nominated for a Teddy Award in Berlinale, and grabbed the Jury Prize for Best Feature before tearing up countless gay and lesbian film festival audiences around the globe with its intelligent humor and punk rock sass. Also starring Guinevere Turner (Go Fish), Daniela Sea (The L Word), and Leslie Grossman (Running With Scissors).
Actress Melonie Diaz invited to attend; Spinnin’ (Spain), the filmmakers of The Human Bean Band scheduled to appear from Spain.
As far as documentaries, the festival will feature Cowboys Forever (Brazil), Les travestis pleurent aussi (Transvestites Also Cry) (France – Ecuador), Director Sebastian d’Ayala Valva scheduled to appear from France.
And of course, there is no Festival without its customaries Galas; the Opening Gala will be held on Thursday, March 6; Centerpiece Gala, Thursday, March 13, and Closing Gala on Saturday, March 15 promising all to be a delight of Latino fusion entertainment.
Countries being represented in this years festival include: Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, France, Germany, Mexico, The Netherlands, Perú, Puerto Rico, Spain, USA and Venezuela .
For additional information about the film festival, pre-sale of tickets, or the Media Arts Center call (619)230-1938, EXT. 101 or visit www.sdlatinofilm.com.

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