Music takes centerstage at the weeklong 12th L.A. Latino Film Festival, which opens today with Miguel Kohan’s Argentine tango docu “Cafe de los Maestros.”
Doc was co-written by multi-Oscar and Grammy-winning Argentine composer Gustavo Santaolalla and exec produced by Walter Salles. Antonio Banderas will hand Santaolalla the fest’s Gabi lifetime achievement award on opening night at Mann Grauman’s Chinese Theater.
Music pervades at least eight other docus and five feature films in the fest’s lineup. Pics with a musical theme include Paula Thiago’s “The Children’s Orchestra,” Walter Lima’s “Os Desafinados” and Maria Camila Lizarazu’s “El angel del acordeon.” Among the music docus are Carlos Carcas’ “Old Man Bebo,” Lola Guerrero’s “El crimen de una novia” and Sonia Goldenberg’s “Sax country.”
Colombia, which has been churning out more pics in recent years, is spotlighted this year.
“I am surprised by the diversity, intensity and quality of the films we have from Colombia,” said festival co-founder Marlene Dermer. Lineup includes Sundance revelation “Perro come perro” (Dog Eat Dog), local box office hit “Paraiso travel” (Paradise Travel), kidnap drama “La Milagrosa” and romantic drama “Te amo, Ana Elisa” (I love you, Ana Elisa).
Fest has joined forces with the Goethe Institute for an immigration-themed program in which a selection of Latino and European pics and docs will showcase immigration issues. Gustavo Arellano, author of the popular book “Ask a Mexican!,” will moderate a panel on immigration issues.
This year, Mexican thesp-producer Diego Luna is the guest speaker and curator of fest’s annual Youth Program, a hands-on interactive experience that teaches participating students to write, develop and film their screenplays.
After a two-year stint at the ArcLight, fest moves back to the Egyptian as well as the Chinese Mann theaters on Hollywood Boulevard.
“We’ve attracted an average audience of 14,000 to 15,000 most years, but we lost about 2,500 attendees each year we were at the ArcLight,” said Dermer, who co-founded the fest a dozen years ago with multihyphenate Edward James Olmos.
Fest wraps on Sept. 19 with a surprise pic.