Latina Filmmakers Shine In Boyle Heights Film Fest

Los Angeles, California — The theatre was crammed with talent and creativity. Josefina Lopez was playing host to the 6th Annual Boyle Heights Latina Independent Film Extravaganza (BHLIFE). The film festival ran from March 2 to 4 at Casa 101 in Boyle Heights with an extra flare, as it emphasized a strong connection to Women’s History Month.

The festival kicked off with three films by strong Latina actors-turned-directors: “kAyLIEN” by Zoe Saldaña, “A Proper Send-Off” by Eva Longoria, and “California Romanza” by Eva Mendes. Friday night was the red carpet event, a strong turnout as many people stood elbow to elbow to support fellow filmmakers. Their short films would be shown on Saturday, March 3 and Sunday, March 4.

“kAyLIEN” was the first film to screen. The film stars Malin Akerman, who previously starred in “Watchmen,” Kelli Barksdale, Bradley Cooper of Hangover fame and Judy Reyes. The movie dealt with a child, played by Barksdale, who is an outsider because she feels like an alien in her own skin. She is currently moving from school-to-school because she just does not fit in. This film was particularly moving as Cooper and Akerman play parents who support their child, regardless the outcome as she wears out her welcome within the new school by biting Reyes, who plays her teacher. This movie resonated with the audience as well as captivated it with a twist ending. In the past Saldaña has proven to be talented in front of the camera; this short film shows that she also has a talent behind it as well.

“A Proper Send-Off” followed. The film starred Jacinda Barrett from “School of Scoundrels” and Victoria Smurfit from “About a Boy.” Barrett plays a Super Mom named Alex who juggles a career, a husband and two very active daughters. However her life comes to a screeching halt when her doctor reveals to her that she is carrying the breast cancer gene. She turns to her husband and Natalia, her best friend played by Smurfit, along with a long list of pros and cons. In the end, she decides to have the surgery to remove her breasts. However, before the surgery, Natalia talks her into a sexy photo shoot as a tribute to her breasts.

“California Romanza” concluded the trio of films. Christina Ricci, who has grown up in front of all of us from her roles in the film version of the “Addams Family” to her current run on “Pan Am,” stars. She plays a young lady coming to her relatives’ home for the holidays. Her aunt and uncle are played by classic voiceover actors, Kathy Najimy from “King of the Hill” fame and Daniel Stern from the “Wonder Years.”

Eva Mendes presents a very quirky film. Najimy brings a character that is so eccentric, she lights up the screen. Daniel Stern is almost unrecognizable but great nonetheless playing a grumpy uncle that needs his medicine. Trouble arises when the family cat goes missing and the family goes out to find it – dressed in gaudy Christmas pijamas, although Ricci looks adorable as an elf. The trio soon runs into Troy Garity playing a lost young man who bites more than he can chew when he asks the family for directions and they enlist his services to search for the cat. Romance and inebriation thanks to the uncle’s medicine ensues.

Of all three movies, “kAyLIEN” seems to have found an audience. It touched several heartstrings and even moved some audience members to tears. I wish I could reveal the ending, but it would be a disservice to an otherwise great film. “California Romanza” was filled with laughs. I cannot recommend it enough, if only to watch Daniel Stern pull out his inner curmudgeon worthy of Paul Giamatti. “A Proper Send-Off” was a call for self-empowerment that we so rarely see or hear coming from the big screen.

No doubt, the message was one of empowerment that often gets lost. So many times Latinas are delegated to roles as maids, sassy promiscuous women, or undocumented immigrants. This film festival is ground zero when it comes to shrugging those expectations and that is exactly what we need – now more than ever.

[Photo By BHLIFE]

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

U.S. citizen detained overnight by ICE – they thought he was undocumented

Victor Landa July 6, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco (1.5 minute read)  This is startling news. Up until last night at a dinner conversation I believed that the idea that an American citizen would be […]

DIECIOCHO Podcast: Texas Rep. Rafael Anchia – Trump, Gerrymandering and Money

NewsTaco June 8, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco (1 minute read, 34 minute listen)  It’s safe to say that the just-ended Texas legislative session was the most acrimonious in memory. We can talk for […]

Vietnam War veteran fears he could be deported

Victor Landa July 7, 2017

*This Vietnam veteran, born in Mexico, was awarded two Purple Hearts and given U.S. citizenship after his service. He’s misplaced his documents and after paying $345 the government wants more […]

Ted Cruz gets an earful in McAllen for July 4

Victor Landa July 5, 2017

*I’m posting this because it was mostly Latinos, organizing, protesting, making their voices heard. Everyone needs to know that Latinos in deep South Texas are standing up. VL By Patrick […]

The moment Florida cops pull over an Afro-Latina and find she’s the State Attorney

Victor Landa July 13, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco Patrol cops in  Orlando, Florida, stopped a white sedan recently becasue they ran the tags and didn’t get a return, plus, the tint on the windows […]

Henry Cisneros: Why Can’t Americans See Latinos Are Country’s ‘Saving Grace’?

Victor Landa July 7, 2017

*Good question. I think it’s because we’re not the ones telling our story. We need to fight for our narrative. VL By Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News (1.5 minute read)  SAN […]

Remembering Gus Garcia, Mexican-American Civil Rights Pioneer

Victor Landa July 27, 2017

By Raul A. Reyes, NBC News (7.5 minute read)   In his heyday, Gus Garcia cut a dashing figure in Texas legal and social circles. He was a key member […]

A Proposed New Tax, Mainly On Latinos, To Pay For Trump’s Border Wall

NewsTaco May 31, 2017

*This happened yesterday, while the rest of us were mesmerized by the Peckinpahesque implosion of the Trump administration, congress was moving a piece of legislation that would fund the Trumpian […]