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San Diego Latino Film Festival back in-person this year, recruiting filmmakers

The Festival will have events in-person for the first time since 2019 at AMC Mission Valley, from March 10th-20th.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Latino Film Festival is back in-person for its 29th year, and they want to see your stories, as the Festival's "Migrant Voices Today" Challenge is extends its deadline.

The Challenge will accept submissions from filmmakers sharing stories about migrants and immigrants and similar topics, from San Diego and around the world. The deadline to enter is February 18th.

"Everything's all about in person again, that's the exciting thing," Ethan van Thillo, Executive Director and Founder of Media Arts Center and the San Diego Latino Film Festival, said.

In his own word, van Thillo explains the Festival was created as a way to "combat the negative stereotypes we were seeing in mainstream media" in respect to Latinos, and because "despite the large Latino population in the country, still it's a very small percentage that are in front of the camera and behind the camera."

This year, the Festival is calling on local filmmakers, those living along a border region, and even some journalists to "get behind the stories" and go deeper.

Filmmakers like Mayra Flores and Nicholas Brewer, the previous winners of the "Migrant Voices Today" Challenge, with their film "Llaves."

"Llaves was about a young mother who came to the United States and her partner, her husband, was detained," Brewer explained. "And it's about her having to explain to her child what that means."

Brewer, a Los Angeles based filmmaker, tells us he spent years gathering interviews for a previous film. One of those didn't make the cut, but the woman's story stuck with him. Enlisting Flores' help as an animator, they told it in "Llaves."

"I'm gonna say it was tough just finding time," Flores explained of the production process, which started in 2018. "I do teach full time, I teach high school."

Brewer says that kind of work-- done carefully, painstakingly, and earnestly, has a "handmade" aspect which he says is part of the beauty in so many films in the Festival's previous years.

"You get to see films from all over the world that are... really a lot of them are handmade and beautifully told," he said. Especially the ones telling the stories of "Mi Gente."

"Telling stories about migrants and immigrants is something that's really personal to me," Flores added. "I am the daughter of immigrants. I am here living out their American dream."

Van Thillo agrees, saying those are the kinds of stories that can unite all San Diegans.

"It is about the story," he said. "It's about that personal connection with whoever we are in the human experience we see on the big screen."

To submit a film to the Festival, visit their website here, or the "Migrant Voices Today" Challenge page here.

They will be screened at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, running from March 10th-20th.

Remember, our "Mi Gente" segment doesn't exist without you. If you know of a Latino-owned business, an organization helping Latinos in San Diego, or a Latino with a story to tell, we want to know. Email us at yourstories@CBS8.com, or reach out to Jesse on social media, @jessepagan.

Watch Related: 7-Year-old San Diego Latina lands movie role, tributes her Mexican roots (Feb 27, 2022)


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