The 20th celebration of Latinx talent happened in the first week of June in Los Angeles, California.
LALIFF is a festival that showcases films, shorts, television shows, music and conversations led by Latinx talent. This year’s content included a conversation with Raya and Last Dragon Director, Carlos Lopez Estrada, music by DJ Zuri Adia and a premiere of the highly-anticipated In the Heights film directed by John M. Chu.
Here’s a recap of what we got to experience this year at LALIFF 2021:
Written and Directed by Sabrina Blanco, La Botera tells the coming-of-age story of Tati who has a dream of becoming a boatwoman in the black waters of the Riachuelo River. Full of teenage-angst and awkward moments, La Botera tells a story that reminds us of just how relatable our stories can be.
Written and Directed by Jonathan Cuartas, My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To tells the unsettling story of two siblings caring for their sick younger brother. His mysterious illness has taken over their lives and though Dwight is tired of the dangerous task that it takes to keep him alive, Jessie refuses to let her family fall apart.
The iconic Rita Moreno shares her story in the intimate documentary, Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It. With appearances from Whoopi Goldberg, Karen Olivo, Justina Machado and Gloria Estefan the documentary provides the audience with unique stories about a woman who deserves all of the praise in the world. Her unapologetic nature and unflinching truth makes for a film you’ll want to watch over and over again.
Growing up in 1960’s San Francisco as a Catholic school girl is difficult enough but Celina Guerrera also got pregnant as a teenager while living in a chaotic household. Writer/Director Lisette Feliciano tells an inspiring story of a woman saving herself, at a time when every single card was stacked against her. Women Is Losers finds perfect pockets of space to give us enough comedic moments to keep the story inspiring and uplifting, while still giving us the harsh reality that women have had to deal with for decades.
At a time when Latinx shows get cancelled left and right, LALIFF 2021 was a wonderful reminder of all of the creatives working hard to bring representation to our screens. Whether you got to attend the festival this year or not, I would keep my eyes out for any of the films featured getting a wider release. We have to show up when the hard work hits our screen, that’s the only way we are going to get bigger and better representation.