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San Diego's Latino Film Festival returns for its 30th anniversary

Next month, thousands of people will watch more than 160 contemporary Latino films over this 11-day festival. Here is everything you need to know.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Latino Film Festival is returning for its 30th anniversary.

This 11-day celebration of Latino cinema, arts and culture starts on March 9 and continues through March 19.

This event, which is produced by the non-profit Media Arts Center San Diego, first began 30 years ago as a student film festival. Since then, it has blossomed into one of the world's largest Latino film festivals, featuring more than 4,000 films and 350,000 attendees over the past couple decades. 


There are a couple different ways you can secure tickets. You can buy tickets to individual screenings, which can be found on the schedule here. There are also special ticket bundles that allow you to see multiple films and get bonus perks.

The cheapest option is the "5-Ticket Pack" at $50 which includes admission to five screenings. 

Then there's the "Film Pass" at $120, which allows entry to 11 screenings and VIP seating.

The "Festival Pass" costs $225, and includes entry to all screenings plus VIP seating and access to the VIP lounge.

The most expensive pass is the "All Access VIP Pass" at $300. It offers everything in the "Festival Pass" plus entry to a couple special events: the food, beer and tequila festival, the opening night party and the closing night party. It also includes a one-year basic digital gym cinema membership.


More than 160 films will be screened across two locations: Digital Gym Cinema (1100 Market Street) and AMC Mission Valley Cinemas (1640 Camino Del Rio N). 

If you want to park at the location on Market Street, the festival says parking is available at the UCSD Park & Market or in adjacent lots, such as Padres Parkade. The location on Camino Del Rio N is a large complex with hundreds of parking spots. 


On weekdays, festivities start between 4:00 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. and end between 10:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. The weekends have longer days, starting as early as 11:00 a.m. and ending as late as 11:30 p.m. 

Each day features multiple screenings, from documentary and narrative features to short films.

There will also be a food and drink festival, Q&A sessions and parties to open and close out the festival. 

To view the full schedule, which includes information such as the start time and location for each film, you can visit this link here


Opening Day starts on Thursday, March 9 with multiple film screenings, the earliest at 4:30 p.m. The first day wraps up with the Opening Night Party. It starts at 8:30 p.m. at "The Forum" UCSD Park & Market, which is at 1100 Market Street. It features food and drinks plus live music from the all-female Salsa band, Sabrosas Latin Orchestra, and Cuban and Brazilian music from the group Puente

Tickets cost $20 in advance, $25 at the door.

If you can't make it to that, the 6th Annual Sabor Latino: Food, Beer & Tequila Fest! is happening on Sat., March 11 from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. It takes place at the Westfield Mission Valley Mall, and includes unlimited food, beer and tequila tastings, live music, an art showcase and more. 

Tickets range from $35 to $55.

While the festival continues through Sun., March 19, the Closing Night Concert & Awards Ceremony happens on Sat., March 18 from 7:00 p.m. to midnight. It takes place at "The Forum" UCSD Park & Market, with live music from the Cumbia group Sonora Dinamita con Vilma Diaz and Rickey G. Bachata. There will also be food and drinks with the chance to mingle with film celebrities. Don't miss the awards ceremony to see which films take home the biggest prizes. 

Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door. 

¡TU CINE! is a series of free student outreach screenings. The films are curated for middle and high school students, and are designed to encourage dialogue among students and staff. The screenings take place between March 14 and 17 from 10 a.m. to noon at both locations. 

You can register here

There is also the opportunity to directly pitch your idea to PBS. The Get Your Project on PBS - Pitch Session is happening Sat., March 18 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. You can pitch your idea and screen your film trailer to an award-winning filmmaker and two Latino Public Broadcasting representatives. 

Space is limited, and you can register here


CBS 8 is a proud partner of the festival, and we will be giving away free passes in a new contest. 

You must be 18 or older and a legal U.S. Resident of San Diego County, California to enter. Eight (8) lucky winners will be randomly chosen in a drawing from all eligible entries at the end of our contest to win.  

One (1) Grand Prize winner will receive two (2) VIP Passes including all movies, Sabor Latino Food, Beer & Tequila Fest and Opening/Closing Night Parties, ARV is $600.00. Two (2) First Prize winners will receive two (2) Festival Passes including access to all film screening, VIP Priority Seating and Access to the VIP Lounge, ARV is $450.00.  Five (5) Second Prize Winners will receive a “5-Ticket Pack” with access to five film screenings plus admission to the Sabor Latino Food, Beer & Tequila Fest. The Sabor Latino Festival will take place on Saturday, March 11, 2023 at Westfield Mission Valley from 2:30pm-6:30pm.  The ARV of this prize is $210.00.

Please see the official rules for complete contest details, deadlines and eligibility. This contest is sponsored by KFMB-TV.  The prize is provided by the San Diego Latino Film Festival.

The contests starts at 12:00 a.m. on Sat., February 25 and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sun., March 5. 

Click here for a link to enter the giveaway.


The San Diego Latino Film Festival is still looking for volunteers! There are openings for a wide range of positions, from Community Partner Coordinator to Photographers to Event Hosts.

Besides volunteering with this upcoming festival, you can also volunteer with the Media Arts Center San Diego at their office downtown. For more information, visit this link or contact Ethan van Thillo, executive director and founder, at ethan@mediaartscenter.org.

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