By Ricky Richardson, Contributing Writer

        (Los Angeles, Ca.)- Lovers of cinema gathered in Hollywood for the 21st Annual Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF). LALIFF was held June 1-5, 2022, at the TCL Chinese Theater and TCL Chinese 6 in Hollywood.

        The documentary Mija, about a Mexican American music manager in San Bernardino, California, opened the festival on June 1st. The film, directed by Isabel Castro premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. The film is racking up accolades, as it resonates with audiences while traveling through the film festival circuit. Mija was also screened at Cleveland International Film Festival, Miami Film Festival, San Francisco International Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival.

        “LALIFF is proud to present a diverse lineup of Latino storytellers,” said Oscar- nominated actor Edward James Olmos, co-founder of LALIFF. “The festival,” has seen tremendous growth, with support from both the film industry and our audience, allowing us to showcase and nurture important voices that the world needs to hear.”

        “One of our goals at LALIFF is to ensure that Latino storytellers have a world-class venue to present their works,” said Diana Cadavid, LALIFF Artistic Director. “We offer a platform for our artists to connect with a diverse and multicultural audience, as well as with important players in the industry.”

        The festival program is comprised of 17 feature films from the United States, Latin America and Canada. Every film and episodic had an in-person screening, and a selection were available online, on-demand.

        “You will find some of the boldest films, Tv series and music, with 50% of the program directed by women,” said Diana Cadavid, LALIFF Artistic Director.

        Last year, LALIFF announced the expansion of its Latinx Inclusion Fellowship Series, sponsored by Netflix, to include five Afro Latino and five Indigenous Latino filmmakers. All ten filmmakers premiered their short films at LALIFF 2022: William D. Caballero, Evelyn Lorena, Nicole Mejia, Sebastian Rea, and Kristi Uribes were the fellows selected for the Indigenous Latino cohort and Elyssa Aquino, Jeanette Dilone, Alexis Garcia, Gabriella A. Moses, and Eli Vasquez were the fellows selected for the Afro Latino cohort.

        The fellowship was created to increase opportunities for under representative groups within the Latino community. The fellows also participated in the festival’s Industry Week to further develop their careers and gain industry access needed to succeed as working artists.

        The Red Carpet was on fire as filmmakers, casts and crew strolled by for invited media from various outlets and social media platforms.

        Writers, directors, executive producers, co-producers and cast (actors & actresses) graced the Red Carpet before the screening of their films. Representatives from Oliver & The Pool, The Second Man and We are Here.

        Representatives for the following movies were also present: Gabriela, Turbia, Abuelo, Without Prescription directed by Juliana Maité (GLOBAL Audience Award Winner at the 2020 SXSW Festival), Calabaza, Puzzled, Bodies Will Tumble and Roll, Blue Veil, Daughter of the Sea, Death and Deathability, Sin Raices, Chilly & Milly, Raul Playing Game and Comala directed by Gian Cassini (an official selection by the Toronto Morelia and Guadalajara Film Festival), Pepe Serna: Life is Art, directed by Luis Reyes. The fabulous movie is about the groundbreaking Mexican American character actor Pepe Serna and how his work and charismatic persona has paved the way for generation of Chicano actors in Hollywood.

        The Closing Night Film on June 5th was The Father of the Bride starring Oscar nominee Andy Garcia, Gloria Estefan, Isabela Merced, Adria Arjona, and Diego Boneta. The film, which hits HBO Max on June 16, is the second remake of the 1950 film of the same name, but this time with a Cuban family as the center of its narrative.