The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival began in 1996 when the City of Los Angeles
explored the concept of an official Latino film festival to serve the cultural needs of its rapidly
growing Latino community. The Festival was created by a group of visionaries led by Marlene
Dermer, an independent producer with a vast knowledge of Latin films and programming;
George Hernández, an independent film & music producer; and actor, director, producer and
activist Edward James Olmos.
The Festival started small, as part of the 1997 Latino Heritage Month, showing 42 films in 5
days. It soon developed its own identity, and with the constant support of film studios and
sponsors, quickly grew into a high-profile event with a strong presence in the Hollywood
Since its foundation in 1996, the Festival has created programs that were later picked up and
held by other organizations in the community, such as the Latino Writers Workshop, Writing
Competition and Latino Screenwriters Lab. We established the Desi Arnaz Memorial Scholarship
Award, which was first presented in 2002. The second Writers Workshop had 26 participants
who were selected from more than 300 applications from all over the United States. The
2006 Latino Screenwriters Lab had 7 participants from the US, Spain, Colombia & Peru.
Panamax, sponsor of the program, awarded $5,000 for development of the winning screenplay
to Colombian filmmaker Ciro Guerra. The Festival’s Youth Program is one of the best in its
kind. An estimate 2,500 students from elementary schools, high schools, and junior colleges
attended the Program since 1998.
In 2004, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science recognized LALIFF as a qualifying
festival for its awards in the Short Film category. In 2003, the seventh Los Angeles Latino
International Film Festival was the longest international film festival in the world expanding to
16 days. We are proud of the fact that many screenings in the 16-day period sold out.
In 2005, the festival became an institute. The Latino International Film Institute (LIFI) is a
non-profit 501c (3) organization that also includes the Los Angeles Latino International Film
Festival (LALIFF). The Community & Education Programming component of the Institute is to
support the development and further education of school children from elementary to junior
college in the United States via the audio visual arts. To provide opportunities to mentor or
support writers develop their stories. To preserve our cultural cinematic history through our
preservation program for our future generations.
Since then, LALIFF has continued to grow and diversify by bringing a diversity of works by
national & international Latino/a artistry reaching across the world. Meanwhile, continuing to
develop and support our artistry while preserving our cinematic history. It has presented over
1,000 features and documentaries from the United States, South America, Central America, the
Caribbean, Spain and Portugal in its ten years of existence. The films were in English, Spanish
and Portuguese. All foreign language films were subtitled in English.
The highest honor of the Festival is its “Gabi Lifetime Achievement Award”, honoring
outstanding achievement, innovation, and vision in filmmaking and given to a film artist whose
admirable body of work has made an impact in our cinema and broken boundaries and borders,
leaving an unforgettable legacy. The recipient of the first “Gabi” award was the great Gabriel
Figueroa, after whom the award was baptized. Other recipients were, chronologically: Raúl
Julia, Carlos Saura, Maria Félix, Anthony Quinn and Nelson Pereira Dos Santos, Federico Luppi,
Rita Moreno, Ricardo Montalban, Antonio Banderas, Ignacio Lopez Tarso, Gustavo Santoalalla,
Special Academy Preservation Program Screening
Academy Film Archive, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences™
The Academy Film Archive of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences acquires and
preserves materials that have contributed to the development of the art and science of the
motion picture. In addition to prints of Academy Award-nominated and winning films, the
archive holds the personal collections of past and current Academy members, as well as a
diverse collection of avant-garde, documentary, and animated films. Ongoing film festival
collections include the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.
The LALIFF collection is freely available for consultation on the Archive’s premises to all students, scholars, and filmmakers.