Regular contributor Mariela Ticas wraps up the Latino Film Institute (LFI) showcase. The LALIFF is “[…] a premier international event dedicated to showcasing the entirety of human experience from the Latino perspective […]”. This amazing event began in 1997 and celebrates all art forms – film, television, digital, music and art. Here, Mariela discusses her top three favorite films from this year’s LALIFF.


Despite the United States boasting a population of about 54 million Latinos (4.9 million in Los Angeles alone) there is only one Latino film festival. Dedicated to celebrating Latino culture in cinema, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) was founded by actor, Edward James Olmos. After a five-year hiatus and the largest Latinx film festival in the US, this year was the perfect time for its return.

LALIFF is a four-day event festival that ran from June 21st to the 24th at the TCL Chinese Theatre. This years’ festival joined forces with the film education program for California public schools, Youth Cinema Project. In addition to film features, there were music and art shows as well. All of the after parties at The Hollywood Roosevelt proved LALIFF is one hot enchilada wrapped in Mexico, Central America and South America vibes. M’mm M’mm delicious!

Thankfully, I was in attendance for the festival and despite the overwhelming amount of original Latino films and over the top young and old talent, I chose my top three films to share with you all!


Lots of Kids, a Monkey, and a Castle

LotsofKidsMonkeyCastleIt’s by far the most comical and candid documentary of the festival. The camera follows Julita Salmeron, mother of the director of the film, Gustavo Salmeron while living in Spain. In the film we see the ongoing and fascinating mystery of her grandmother’s lost vertebrae bones, the dysfunction of hoarding, losing it all and the kind of family love that never fails. Julita is one of a kind and an open book about her flaws and failures. Gustavo captures the side effect of his mother’s open emotional deficiency with a whole lot of heart and viewers can’t help but fall in love with Julita!


This dramatic film takes place in the 1990s during the uncompromising Cuban embargo, directed by Jhonny Hendrix. The story follows an elderly couple, Candelaria and Victor Hugo (played by Verónica Lynn and Alden Knigth), still very much in love who discover the spark of romance after finding a video camera. Instead of an elderly couple discussing taxes and a retirement fund, the subject matter of their conversations consists of which possessions to sell for food while being full of love for one another. The transparency of the harsh reality they face is what brings to life the innocence and simplicity of love with a few silly games.


Los Buscadores (The Gold Seekers)
This was the festival’s anticipated closing film. A 2017 Paraguayan adventure film, directed by Juan Carlos Maneglia and Tana Schembori. It’s the sequel to the 2012 film 7 Boxes. The Gold Seekers has the undertone element of National Treasure and The Goonies. The story has a surprising chemistry between the onscreen lead, Manu, (Tomás Arredondo) a newspaper boy who comes across a mysterious map and Ilu, (Cecilia Torres) a serious maid with everything to lose. The film also has LGBT inclusion and incredible drone shots. The Gold Seekers is a fun ride that builds and builds to the next scene only to leave you on the edge of your seat for yet another sequel! Without a shadow of a doubt, I can say I’m officially a fan.

I am looking forward to next year’s festival and I hope to see more people willing to begin to understand the artistic elements of the Hispanic community, to stand in solidarity with them, and support one of the hardest working minorities in America. LALIFF is an opportunity to come together for a few days, forget about political agendas, and institutional stereotypes. It’s about getting to see Latinos in all their humanity.

After all, were all the same race – human.


Mariela Ticas lives in Los Angeles, CA and is a regular contributor for ATRPs. She is a podcast personality/co-host/blogger for “The Strange Kamelion Show” on iTunes and is an active member of Sag-Aftra as a performer. She has always been a writer at heart and got her start writing poetry as a teen. Mariela got her start in the entertainment industry back in 2012 and is now currently working on her first children’s book! On her downtime, she’s a volunteer member of the Motion Picture & Television Fund. You can follow Mariela on Instagram, or Twitter! Be sure to read her podcast blog, and scope her IMDb for upcoming features.

All photos are copyrighted and belong to the film studios or to Mariela Ticas. All links to Amazon are non-revenue generating. 

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