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About

Our Mission

Latino Film Institute + LALIFF

Latino Film Institute (LFI) showcases, strengthens and celebrates the richness of Latino lives through the audiovisual event. We develop, activate, and support artists, creators, and executives through pathways and platforms for the expression and appreciation of their work.

LALIFF is a premier international event dedicated to showcasing the entirety of human experience from the Latino perspective, whether through film, television, digital, music, art, or any other vehicle, regardless of platform.  

History

LALIFF

LALIFF was founded in 1997 when Edward James Olmos, Marlene Dermer, Kirk Whisler and the late George Hernandez joined forces with the City of Los Angeles to form the first-ever Latino-focused international film festival. Recognized for its discovery of emerging Latino talent, LALIFF has been home to first films by Academy-Award winning directors, Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron, Alejandro G. Iñarritu, and Pablo Larrain, as well as home to the first films by Golden Globe-winning actresses, Gina Rodriguez and America Ferrera.

Throughout its history, LALIFF has bestowed the Gabriel Figueroa Lifetime Achievement Award to such industry icons as, Raul Julia, Pedro Almodovar, Carlos Sauza, Maria Felix, Anthony Quinn, Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Federico Luppi, Rita Moreno, Ricardo Montalban, Antonio Banderas, Ignacio Lopez Tarso, Gustavo Santaolalla and, of course, Gabriel Figueroa himself.

The LALIFF Youth Program, a screen education program that took place at the festival, set the groundwork for what would eventually become the statewide, public school educational film program known as, the Youth Cinema Project.

The Academy Film Archive houses all of the past LALIFF Collection.

Executive Director's

Statement

The Latino Film Institute is proud to bring back LALIFF (formerly known as the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival). I began my career as a volunteer at LALIFF, which is why I’m committed to creating career-pathways into the entertainment industry for our community. Similarly, it is important I acknowledge that in our return, the foundation of everything we do – the heart of LALIFF – are the public school students we work with around the state via the Youth Cinema Project. After all, our mission is to pave the way for Hollywood’s multicultural future.

The return of LALIFF brings with it two programming giants to Hollywood. First, is our new Director of Programming, Diana Sanchez. Diana is an International Programmer for TIFF and is the Artistic Director of IFF Panama. Joining Diana is our new Senior Programmer, Dilcia Barrera. Dilcia is a Programmer, Short Films at the Sundance Film Festival and is the Film Curator at LACMA. Like myself, Dilcia was also a volunteer at LALIFF. 

Showcasing the very best Latino films is what LALIFF has always been known for. But starting this year, LALIFF will also be known as the mecca for Latinx content. While global Latin American films are better than they have ever been, we cannot turn a blind eye to the platforms where Latinos and Latinas are actually thriving: TV and digital content. That is why creating a space where Latinx content creators can co-exist with our very best national and international talent – in front and behind the camera – is our ultimate goal. Along with LALIFF TV and LALIFF Digital, this year we also create LALIFF Music, our new live Latin music showcase, as well as LALIFF Art, an art exhibition highlighting undocumented artists that will take place in the lobby of the Chinese 6 Theatres. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, this year we launch, LALIFF Legacy: the first-ever statewide student film festival highlighting the final films of the students of the Youth Cinema Project.   

At the end of the day, my team and I pose one very simple question: which LALIFF are you?

 

Rafael Agustín

Team

LALIFF

Rafael Agustín – Executive Director

Rafael Agustín is the 2016 Sundance Episodic Story Lab Fellow for his half-hour family comedy, ILLEGAL, based on his life as a former undocumented American. Agustín is also the co-writer and co-star of the national touring, award-winning autobiographical comedy, N*GGER WETB*CK CH*NK, which received acclaim from the LA Times, New York Times, Denver Post and won awards for its advancement of social justice in the arts.

In 2015, the LA Times gave Agustín the Emerging Leader Award at the annual Latinos de Hoy Ceremony. Also in 2015, Agustín was named Alumnus of the Year by Mt. San Antonio College, and contributed to a new book entitled “Portraits of the Dream: The Importance of Investing in Undocumented America,” which promotes Dream Act legislation in Washington D.C.

Rafael Agustín is the past Festival Manager of Edward James Olmos’ Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF).

Agustín received his BA and MA from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & Television, and is an alumnus of the CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase.

Diana Sanchez – Director of Programming

Diana Sanchez is an International Programmer for the Toronto International Film Festival®, responsible for introducing audiences to the best in Latin American, Caribbean, Spanish and Portuguese cinema. She is also part of the founding team and the Artistic Director of IFF Panama, a festival in Panama dedicated to launching films from Central America and the Caribbean in an international landscape.

Sanchez currently programs a selection of Latin American films, Houston Latin Wave, with the PROA Foundation in Argentina and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. She has been involved in a variety of festivals and cinematic presentations, including the Miami International Film Festival’s Encuentros Program, a works in progress competition.

Sanchez has served as juror at numerous film festivals as well as for feature film production funds for Ecuador, Colombia and Uruguay. Sanchez holds a Master’s in Cinema Studies from the University of Toronto and is a frequent guest speaker at Canadian and International universities.

Dilcia Barrera – Senior Programmer

Dilcia Barrera is the Associate Curator of Film Programs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and a Short Film Programmer for Sundance Film Festival. Since 2007, she has worked for numerous film festivals including a tenure as Senior Programmer at AFI FEST, Programmer for The Philadelphia Film Festival and has collaborated with film festivals like LAFF and OUTFEST. Most recently, she was invited to curate two new film categories for The New York Film Festival. She has served on international film festival juries including Berlin International Film Festival and SXSW and in 2016 was named one of “IndieWire’s 20 Latin Americans Making a Difference for American Independent Film Today.”

Sergio Monserrate – Festival Manager

Sergio Monserrate graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles. Out of college, Sergio volunteered for Edward James Olmos’ Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) where he quickly rose to head of production within a couple years. As head of production for three years, Sergio produced major live events at historic landmarks in Los Angeles: The TCL Chinese Theater, The American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theater, El Capitan, and The Orpheum Theater.

In TV, Sergio worked with showrunners, Thank you Brain! Productions (Those who can’t & Flight of Concords), on filming a comedic pilot for Participant Media. In film, he worked on a feature film with Cima Productions (Filly Brown & Enter the Dangerous Mind) called the Bounce Back starring Shear Moore and Nadine Velasquez. As a filmmaker, Sergio has produced six short films, a documentary, and is currently creating comedic digital content. Sergio is the co- founder of the production company, Annoying Cousin.

Alexis de la Rocha – Music Programmer

Alexis de la Rocha is a first generation Latina artist, musician and proud advocate of the arts. Whether she is creating visuals and sounds with her band LJ Laboratory, bringing life to inanimate objects with Viva La Puppet, performing at community workshops for Center Theatre Group, or hosting MorrisseyOke at Eastside Luv (featured on CNN, NPR, New York Times), Alexis consistently generates exciting platforms for artistic expression. She is known for hosting, producing, reporting and writing for national networks such as E! Television, LATV, SiTV, and Live Nation. She has received critical acclaim from the LA Times and LA Weekly for her standout theatrical performances with the Latino Theatre Company and has been praised by Consequence of Sound, The Bay Bridged and Rolling Stone for her dynamic musical displays at SXSW, Snow Globe Music Festival, LA Pride, and more. As a proud woman of color, Alexis believes in the importance of sharing her art, music and adventures and is fired up to continue bringing people together to celebrate our human experiences through our art.

Andres Alexis – Sponsor Coordinator

Andrés Alexis was  born and raised in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.  Though he started working professionally as an actor in Spain where he lived for 7 years, it was through his volunteering for LALIFF that he awoke to his passion for international film festivals as an indispensable platform for Latino narrative, creativity, talent, and voice.  Starting with one of the top 5 film festivals in the world, San Sebastián International Film Festival, he has branched out to Mostra Valencia (Spain), Guadalajara International Film Festival, LALIFF and Los Cabos International Film festivals.  Through his almost 10 years of film festival work, he has worked with the likes of Benicio Del Toro,  Eva Longoria, John Travolta, John Malkovich, Dustin Huffman, Nicole Kidman, Oliver Stone, Annette Bening, Javier Bardem, Woody Allen to name a few. He has previously formed part of the LALIFF team as Programming coordinator, Sponsorship coordinator, and artistic director for LALIFF’s quinceañera trailer.  He is eager to be back as Sponsorship coordinator to bring back and grow an iconic film festival such as LALIFF… “Un festival como Dios Manda”

Ben Rodriguez – Volunteer Coordinator

(or simply, “Ben”) is a filmmaker and comedian, and currently writes for the CBS Showcase. He completed the Fox Writers Intensive last year and has been supported by Film Independent’s Project Involve and the CAA Comedy Writers Bootcamp in the past, and his latest feature script, PEDRO TRIES TO GET MARRIED, was one of seven finalists from over 2000 submissions for Robert Rodriguez’s inaugural season of Rebel Without a Crew.

Ben currently has two shorts on the festival circuit, Alpha and Bettas, for which both were accepted into the Oscar-Qualifying Rhode Island International Film Festival, and the latter won “Best LGBTQI Short” at IFS Los Angeles Film Festival and was also accepted into the Oscar-Qualifying HollyShorts Film Festival.

Ben is also the creator of several digital series including Pushy Riot (for which the TV pilot script got him into the Fox Writers Intensive); MARIconBEN, a Spanish/English comedy starring and based off his relationship with his 93-year-old abuelita; and Strictly Vers, a digital series based on his stand up.

In a past life, Ben was the Director of Development for Eugenio Derbez’s Lionsgate/Pantelion backed production company 3Pas Studios (INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED, HOW TO BE A LATIN LOVER, OVERBOARD); prior to that he assisted Academy Award nominated producers Stacey Sher and Michael Shamberg (DJANGO UNCHAINED, THE HATEFUL EIGHT, Reno 911) before becoming a talent manager and producer for Sofia Vergara’s company LatinWE (HOT PURSUIT) and her YouTube-funded channel NuevOn.

Ben graduated from the USC School of Dramatic Arts and currently studies improv at Groundlings and sketch at the Actors Company. He performs stand up, sketch and improv regularly all over LA, including at world renowned venues like The Comedy Store, UCB, The Ice House, and Second City, among many others.

In his spare time, Ben works with the Edward James Olmos and Rafael Agustin led Latino Film Institute Youth Cinema Project as an instructor, and with Young Storytellers as a Teaching Artist, to teach filmmaking to middle and high school students and help them write and produce short films.

Conny Quintanilla – Theater Operations & Press Department Coordinator

Conny Quintanilla was born and raised in Miami, FL and lived in the entertainment capital of the world Hollywood, CA for 10 years. She works year-round in the most prestigious awards shows and film/music festivals in the USA, such as Latin Grammys, Miami Film Festival, ESSENCE Music Festival etc. She is currently the Production Manager at the historic Olympia Theater in Downtown Miami.

Conny worked with LALIFF from 2006-2013 and is excited to be returning to the team.

Janel King – Student Film Festival Coordinators

Janel King is a writer and LFIYCP instructor. She earned her bachelor’s degree from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts and her master’s degree in education from LMU. She also holds a teaching credential and an administrative credential in California. In her eight years in the classroom, teaching film and other subjects, she was awarded the Teacher of the Year Gold Award, as well as chosen as a teaching member of the UCI Writing Project. Out of the classroom, she chaired the 2013 California Association for Bilingual Education (CABE) Teacher of the Year Committee and increased arts district-wide as Visual and Performing Arts Coordinator for her school district. Janel is currently writing an end-of- the-world drama set in space and enjoys experimenting with special FX makeup.

Bodie Olmos – Student Film Festival Coordinators

Bodie is an Actor and Producer, who has appeared in many different television and film projects. He was the Head of Development for Olmos Productions for six years, creating and developing social and cultural content for ABC/Disney Studios. Bodie has found a passion working in film and television in various degrees and continues to explore the many avenues the creative arts has to offer, both executively and artistically. He joined the Latino Film Institute Youth Cinema Project in 2016 and is assisting in the executive growth and development aspect of the institute. He received his BA from UCLA’s School of Theater, Film & Television.

Carlos Aguilar – Editor

Originally from Mexico City, Carlos Aguilar was chosen as one of 6 young film critics to partake in the first Roger Ebert Fellowship organized by RogerEbert.com, the Sundance Institute and Indiewire in 2014. Aguilar’s work has appeared in prestigious publications such as Indiewire, RogerEbert.com, MovieMaker Magazine, Remezcla Filmmaker Magazine, Variety Latino, Slate, Bustle, Americas Quarterly, among others.

Besides his work in journalism, Aguilar regularly works as a screener for the Sundance Film Festival and a screenplay reader for Sundance’s Screenwriters Lab. Carlos Aguilar has also been on the jury at renowned festivals such the Palm Springs International Film Festival, the Gasparilla International Film Festival, the Louisiana International Film Festival, and the Los Angeles Indian Film Festival.

Aguilar currently co-hosts, One Week Only, a weekly podcast highlighting independent and international cinema. He also regularly participates in panel discussions about the importance of people of color in film criticism and his experience as a DACA recipient working in the film industry.

Erika Sabel Flores – Production Coordinator

Erika Sabel Flores is a Los Angeles based filmmaker. Born and raised in Mexico City, she attended university in the UK and acting conservatory in NY. She holds a BA in Business and MA degrees in Communications and Psychology. She has over 10 years of experience working in front and behind the camera, in above and below the line positions.

As a producer, she has worked at different budget levels and in a variety of media, but particularly loves producing narrative content at the indie level. “Shine”, a feature she recently co-produced, premiered at Urbanworld and won the 2017 “Best Feature Audience Award.”

She recently directed a series of PSA’s for the California Coalition for a Healthy California and “Cascabel”, her narrative directorial debut, is currently in post-production. She is currently developing her first feature and two new media projects as a writer.

She also loves casting and has served as casting director in over 20 films internationally. Multiple projects she cast are currently in the festival circuit, including “Pet Rituals” and “Still Devout”, which are included in the AFI FEST 2017 line up. In her spare time, she loves teaching and mentoring youth. “The Last Deal” a short film she produced as a mentoring project for teens from The Boys and Girls Club of Oxnard, won the 2017 “MetLife National Merit Award for Program Excellence.”

Justino Mora – Digital Strategy Coordinator

Justino Mora is an immigrant rights activist, entrepreneur, self-taught software engineer, and co-founder of UndocuMedia. Through UndocuMedia, Justino leverages the power of social media and tech to inform, educate, and mobilize the masses on immigration and other social justice issues. Justino studied Computer Science and Political Science at UCLA. In 2008, Justino became involved in the fight for immigrant rights and helped lead and organize the campaigns that culminated in the passage of the CA Dream Act and other pro-immigration legislation. In 2012, Justino worked on the “Right to Dream” campaign that proved pivotal in pressuring the Obama Administration to grant DACA for undocumented youth. Through his advocacy, Justino has helped thousands of undocumented youth apply for DACA, find scholarship resources, apply to college, and become activists themselves.