SD Latino Film Fest Opening Gala

written by Tami Jones | photography by Charlie Colquhoun

Well HELLO opening night for the San Diego Latino Film Festival!  The Media Arts Center certainly knocked that one out of the park.  There’s nothing I love more than sipping a glass of wine at the W Hotel watching guys covered in tattoo’s sporting dreadlocks tearing it up on stage.  That’s right, the B-Side Players were in the house rocking the sounds of Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico and Brazil with the funk, rock, jazz and hip-hop rhythms that we’ve all come to love.  I would have just been happy with the glass of wine at the W Hotel.  Dream big, they say.

The Media Arts Center is hosting this years 10th Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival in Mission Valley at the Ultrastar Theatres from March 10 through March 20.  I had the pleasure of attending the opening night soirée at the W Hotel, featuring live music from Jesse Lamonaca and The Dime Novels, The Tree Ring, and of course, the always entertaining B-Side Players.  Yolanda S. Walther-Meade was the event hostess for the evening.

As the crowd anxiously awaited the film festivals VIP’s to arrive, we were treated to an informal salsa dance-off by Yolanda and a few of the other guests.  No, apparently dance-off’s are not just for celebrity exes.  Ms. Walther-Meade did her usual “Making Everyone Else Look Bad” routine and wowed the crowd with her flair.

The excitement grew as the shuttles began to arrive with this year’s best and brightest filmmakers, directors, producers and stars.  We talked to John Psathas, Writer and Director of the drama short, Milwaukee as he arrived from Mission Valley.  We asked him what the most exciting thing was about this years film festival and he replied, “Just getting the movie out there for everyone to see.  It’s exciting to have finished this project and now have it be so positively received by the audience.”  Congratulations, John.

I think that really is the most exciting thing about this festival.  There’s just something special about people coming together to collaborate on creative projects that start only in one’s mind. These films begin, simply, by a thought that grows into a tangible existence through the hard work and perseverance of their creators.  It’s a bit invigorating, I must say.  I mean, hey, the parties are great too and I’m not one to look the Gift Horse in the mouth but that is what the San Diego Latino Film Festival is really all about.  The opening night party was a fitting tribute to the festival and the hard work of everyone involved in this year’s salute to Latino culture in film.

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