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Your Guide to the Top Screenings at the San Diego Latino Film Festival

The festival runs March 10–20, showcasing diverse Latinx cinema along with food and music

By Carlos Rico

SD Latino Film Fest - Serna

Pepe Serna: Life is Art, a documentary about legendary actor Pepe Serna, will screen at the San Diego Latino Film Fest

Every year, the San Diego Latino Film Festival (SDLFF) carves out more than a week in spring to put Latinx film creators in the spotlight. Shorts, feature films, documentaries—the lineup of over 160 films is a wide-reaching celebration of Latinx art and culture. This year, screenings will be held online as well as in person for the first time since 2019, at AMC Mission Valley, and special guests will include film legend Pepe Serna, whose documentary will be featured on opening night. Here are our picks for the can’t-miss films of the festival. 

Opening Night

The festival starts with a documentary about the life and career of Hollywood icon Pepe Serna.The film, Pepe Serna: Life Is Art, is told in his own words and captures his life as a veteran supporting actor, from Scarface and Car Wash to Downsizing, the 2017 film starring Matt Damon. This is part of a three-day tribute to Serna that will include screenings of Raíces de sangre and Man from Reno.

Mexico Raro y Querido Shorts Program

On the second day of the festival, check out a collection of nine short films from Mexico, all of which have endearingly unusual plots and characters. For instance, in La Casa de la Memoria, an old man lives alone, among an expansive film library made of memories.  

¡Viva Mujeres! Shorts Program

The ¡Viva Mujeres! Shorts Program consists of eight women-led stories, including the US debut of Labios de Miel, a coming-of-age story of Ruth, who starts paying attention to the boys in her school—until she notices a girl named Azucena.

Poderoso Victoria

One of the spotlight narrative features of the festival is Poderoso Victoria. When a town in the Northern Mexican desert is threatened with being cut off from civilization when their mine and railroad service is shut down, a young mechanic brings the town together to build their own steam train. Poderoso Victoria stars Gerardo Oñate, Damián Alcázar, Joaquín Cosío, Edgar Vivar, Adal Ramones, Lalo España, Roberto Sosa, and Said Sandoval.


Set in modern-day Brazil, Medusa stars Mari Oliveira as a 21-year-old who lives in a society where women are meant to achieve “perfection” in their looks and lifestyle. By night, the women who question or rebel against these boundaries are hunted and beaten in the streets. The film captures the breaking point when Oliveira’s character begins to question her reality.

Ritmo Latino Shorts Program

On March 18, musical cinema take center stage with six short films about musicians. Their stories range from an Afro-Cuban musician living in Montreal starting a new life in Fuego to a homeless man who gets lost in Mexico City while following a song in ¡Pinche Teporocho!

La pasajera

La pasajera stars Mexican actress Cecilia Suarez in a thrilling story about a group of strangers sharing a ride. When the driver accidentally hits a woman on the road in the middle of the night and the group takes her to a hospital, things take a strange, dark turn. 

Mis hermanos sueñan despiertos

On the last day of the festival, catch Mis hermanos sueñan despiertos, inspired by true events in Chile. In a juvenile prison, Ángel and his younger brother Franco have formed a group of friends over the past year of their incarceration. When they’re tempted with an opportunity to escape, the freedom they’ve only dreamt about is much closer to becoming a reality. 

Beyond the films, enjoy more celebrations of Latinx culture throughout the 11-day festival. There are live music performances at the AMC courtyard, an gallery space featuring artists and makers, and the Sabor Latino: Food, Beer, & Wine Festival on March 19, with offerings from both San Diego and Baja.

The full list of 2022 SDLFF films and happenings can be found at

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