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Humor taking center stage at San Diego Latino Film Festival

American comedian and actor John Leguizamo (center) stars in "El Paseo 2," a popular Columbian film featured in the upcoming San Diego Latino Film Festival, which gets under way this week.
American comedian and actor John Leguizamo (center) stars in "El Paseo 2," a popular Columbian film featured in the upcoming San Diego Latino Film Festival, which gets under way this week. Courtesy of the San Diego Latino Film Festival

Organizers of the San Diego Latino Film Festival want attendees to laugh this year.
Now in its 21st year, the festival will highlight comedies and start this Thursday, March 13 and run through the 23rd at Ultrastar Cinemas, 7510 Hazard Center Drive in San Diego.
"Comedies are theme this year for a few different reasons: It's always been a genre our audiences have celebrated, so we thought for our 21st Anniversary it was a fitting and fun category to showcase," said Glenn Heath, the festival's director of programming. "Also, with the success of Mexican comedies like Instructions Not Included last year at the box office, it's also a popular form of storytelling that deserves to be highlighted."
“When you look at the box office hits from this past year Latino cinema really hit a positive cord with audiences when it came to comedies,” said Ethan van Thillo, executive director and founder of the Media Arts Center San Diego, the organization that produces the festival.
“Whether its 'Instructions not Included' or 'Nosotros los Nobles' comedies are really showing their muscle at the box office, and at this year’s film festival we hope to celebrate and highlight this trend with comedies with Jaime Camil and John Leguizamo, among others,” he added.
Heath said audiences can expect comedies of all kind, including as recent Colombian box office hit "El Paseo 2" featuring Leguizamo; Spain’s ensemble comedy "Una Pistola En Cada Mano" and "200 Cartas," a bilingual U.S. romantic comedy starring Jaime Camil from last year's "Pulling Strings."
Additional comedies include Leguizamo’s upcoming HBO special "Ghetto Klown," Mexican romantic comedy "No Se Si Cortarme La Venas o Dejarmelas Largas," "Casese Quien Pueda," "Me Late Chocolate" (also from Mexico) with Karla Souza and Brazilian box office hit "My Mom is A Character."
The festival's Spotlight Films programming includes the U.S./Mexico immigration documentary "Who is Dayani Cristal?" with Gael Garcia Bernal, the Argentine thriller "Thesis on A Homicide" starring Ricardo Darin, Carlos Cuaron’s romantic coming-of-age movie "Besos de Azucar" with Héctor Jiménez and the Mexican drama "Deseo," starring Christian Bach.
“This programming every year showcases some of the biggest stars and filmmakers working in Latin America, Mexico and the U.S.,” Heath said.
Van Thillo said it has been an honor to work on such an incredible celebration of Latino cinema, filmmakers and actors, such as Michael Peña starring in the Cesar Chavez biopic, Academy Award nominee Demian Bichir and director Alfonso Cuarón, who recently won an Academy Award for directing the critical and box office hit "Gravity."
“So much has transpired over the years, yet one thing remains: Each year we are so fortunate to be able to showcase such a wonderful and diverse selection of films,” Van Thillo said. “I am so thankful to the community for their on-going support over the years and for making the festival a reality."
Passes are now on sale; an all-access Festival Pass -- which includes over 150 programs -- is $200, while the $100 film pass offers entrance to 11 films. For more information go to www.sdlatinofilm.com or call 619-230-1938.