The Watsonville Film Festival (WFF) will present a powerful lineup of 20+ screenings by award-winning directors and young local filmmakers, as well as great live music, and engaging Film Talks conducted by experts in the industry.
The Film Festival takes place at the Watsonville’s Gene Hoularis and Waldo Rodriguez Youth Center, 30 Maple Avenue in Downtown, from Thursday March 28 through Sunday March 31.
Under the theme Stories Matter, the 7th Annual Edition of the WFF will feature unique and powerful films that give voice to the voiceless, celebrate the creativity of Latinos, and spotlight issues that are relevant to our community. These films, many of which are Monterey Bay Premieres, humanize political issues, honor trailblazers, and offer inspiration to solve local and global problems.
“We believe that film is a potent medium that helps us see the world with fresh eyes, promotes respect and compassion, and expands possibilities for transformation,” says Executive Director Consuelo Alba. “We have designed the program for people to have a good time and also be inspired.”
The WFF is opening with the award-winning documentary Singing Our Way to Freedom on March 28th at 6:30 PM. The feature-length film chronicles the life and music of Ramón “Chunky” Sánchez from his humble beginnings as a farmworker in California to the dramatic moment when he received one of his nation’s highest musical honors at the Library of Congress in 2013. The film won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the San Diego Latino Film Festival. Director Paul Espinosa will attend the festival for a Q&A after the screening. Espinosa is a longtime producer for PBS whose films have won eight Emmys.
On Friday March 29 at 6PM, the Film Festival will host the Imagine Short Film Program featuring the work of local and international filmmakers, including the world premiere of Service With a Smile (SWAS), a science fiction short set in Watsonville in 2040. It was directed & produced by young filmmakers at the Digital NEST. At 8:30PM on Friday, La Habitación / Tales of Mexico will take the viewers on a journey of Mexico’s transformation throughout the last 100 years, told through the eyes of the tenants who have lived in the same room in a colonial-style house in Mexico City. The story’s vignettes were directed by eight of today’s leading Mexican directors
On Saturday, March 30 at 2PM, the Inspire Short Film Program will showcase a mix of documentary, testimonial and fiction short films that focuses on the struggles and triumphs of Latinx lives in California.
Mexican actor Alejandra Herrera will be visiting Watsonville to participate in a Q&A after the screening of Tiempo de Lluvia / In Times of Rain, a beautiful and intimate fiction film about tradition, migration and healing from an indigenous perspective. The screening starts Saturday at 4:30PM.
A new documentary about Rubén Blades follows the Latin American icon who was at the center of the New York Salsa revolution in the 1970’s. His socially charged lyrics and explosive rhythms bought Salsa music to an international audience. Blades has won 17 Grammys, acted in Hollywood films, earned a law degree from Harvard and ran for president of his native Panama. The film will screen at 7:30PM on Saturday. Local favorites Flor de Caña will serve up their high energy Afro-Caribbean dance music right after the film, starting at 9:30PM.
Screening on Sunday, March 31 at 1PM, the award-winning Collisions shows the devastating impact of the current administration’s crackdown on immigration for one Bay Area family. When 12-year-old Itan Bautista’s mother is taken by ICE, she and her little brother are forced to rely on their distant uncle as they embark on a journey to find her whereabouts. Oakland-based Producer Vincent Cortez will be in attendance for a post-screening conversation.
The WFF closes with Harvest Season on Sunday at 3:30pm. This documentary film highlights the vineyard workers and small wine producers with roots in Napa. Filmed over the course of one agricultural year, Harvest Season follows the triumphs and tragedies of two Latino winemaking families and the Mexican farm laborers who help bring the wines to your table. Award-winning Director & TV Producer Bernardo Ruiz is expected to attend.
Also, special guests of the WFF will share stories about their work, the challenges and rewards of making films as part of the series Film Talks at Digital NEST, 318 Union St. These one hour conversations are free and open to the public. All ages welcome.
Full program & tickets available online, with no service fee, at http://watsonvillefilmfest.
Adult Tickets: $10. Special screening prices: Opening Night Film: $15 Sat. Night Film + Dance Concert: $20 Youth Tickets (under 21, w. ID): $5 Youth Sat. Night Film + Concert: $10.
Tickets will be sold at the door beginning one hour before first screening of the day. Some screenings may sell out online, please check in advance.
The sponsors of the 7th Annual WFF: Ow Family Properties, Bud & Rebecca Colligan, The Ainsley-Hicks Family Foundation, Annieglass, Envision Housing, City of Watsonville, Arts Council of Santa Cruz, California Arts Council, Register-Pajaronian, Good Times, Ella at the Airport, Rebecca García, Amy Newell, Dan Carrillo, Bob Katz & Leola Lapides, and Los Amigos del Festival.