We all know names like Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams and Michael Bay. But what about Diego Rougier, Anthony Lucero and Ernesto Alemany? There are literally dozens of talented Latino directors who never get the exposure they deserve, primarily because their movies lack distribution or acceptance from English-speaking audiences. For the past eight years, the San Francisco Latino Film Festival has set out to change that; highlighting shorts, features and documentaries from talented international auteurs. Their latest event kicks off this fall, with a showcase that includes entries from Argentina, Cuba, Mexico and Brazil (just to name a few!). Founder and festival director Lucho Ramirez sat with us recently to discuss SFLFF’s lineup, history and it’s cinematic importance.
‘LL: Congratulations on another fantastic year! How are you feeling about this latest incarnation of SFLFF?
Lucho: It’s a very exciting time, going into our eighth season. Every year is both exciting and challenging. It’s amazing to see how much creative work is coming out of the U.S., as well as Latin America. We purposely time this event around Hispanic Heritage Month, which means we’ll be showcasing films well into October.
‘LL: Can you explain a little bit about your role with the festival and how it came to be?
Lucho: I actually worked as a distributor many years ago. I founded SFLFF as a previous incarnation of it was coming to a close. A group of us got together and formed this bigger organization called Cine+Mas, which aims to contribute to San Francisco’s artistic scene. We believe in showcasing the work of Latino filmmakers, whether they are independent or established. This is a celebration of our work and our culture and an opportunity to see ourselves on screen.
‘LL: How has SFLFF evolved in the past eight years?
Lucho: We’ve moved into bigger locations. There has really been an explosion of growth in the Bay Area. The festival has definitely been affected by the arrival of more young people and more Latinos in the city. Through it all though, San Francisco has been our anchor. Like our city, we take an unconventional approach to things. Instead of just screening films in a theater, we go to cultural centers and even bookstores. We love traveling to unique places that can reach new audiences.