The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) is back, and its return aligns with the wave of change that has engulfed the entertainment industry in recent years. Increasingly present in every conversation about content creation, the demand for representation has started to question those in power about the stories being portrayed and who is telling them.
Plugging LALIFF into this discussion is more than natural, given that its very inception was grounded on addressing the lack of spaces and opportunities to see ourselves on screen.
Simultaneously, the festival reappears at a time of profound political turmoil in the United States and across the Americas. Last time LALIFF took place, in October 2013, Barack Obama was president; DACA had just started drastically changing the lives of undocumented youth, and the prospects for more inclusion in film and television were not enough, but the path to get them seemed less threatened than now.
Though the festival’s mission was then just as relevant in regards to highlighting our art, today there is a different connotation to what this endeavor represents: resistance. Constructive visibility through the work of our artists and the power of our narratives serves as a dignifying counterattack to ignorance, bigotry and hatred.
The industry’s landscape has dramatically change in the five years that the festival went dark and LALIFF is aware of that, thus the approach for its resurgence is comprised of both the need to retain the values that made the event a trailblazer and the vision to reshape them for the moment that Latinx and Latin American artistic expression is enjoying.
Beyond an excellently curated film program for its 2018 edition, LALIFF is expanding to champion emerging talents in other disciplines via its LALIFF Music and LALIFF Art sections, where creative individuals outside of cinema can exhibit their projects and abilities. A live podcast session with leading Latinx voices aims to tap into another group within the umbrella of Latinx audiences.
In the late 90s, LALIFF was a pioneering force before other festivals focused on individual national cinemas were birthed in Los Angeles. For over a decade, LALIFF was the premiere showcase of cinema from the region on the West Coast. Through this improved reimagining of its greatest qualities, its promise within the festival ecosystem of the city and the country at large will once again be fulfilled.
Forming new alliances and maintaining existing ones, such as its long-standing partnership with the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences, LALIFF is evolving to accommodate even more experiences and worldviews as part of its revitalized purpose. Those who were avid attendees in the past can be certain the selected movies are up to the standards LALIFF has always been known for, but should be equally ready to partake in the festival’s new ventures. For those discovering it for the first time, a great cinematic revelation awaits.
The 2018 festival runs June 20-24 at TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood.