Mexican cinema will take center stage in Los Angeles with the annual Hola México Film Festival, which is marking a milestone birthday this year with a traditional party.
“We’re celebrating our community through the stories in these films. It’s the best of Mexican cinema,” said Samuel Douek, founder and director of the film festival, which is marking its 15th anniversary with a roster of nearly two dozen full length films and 20 shorts, screened at a trio of locations from Sept. 29 to Oct. 7.
Keeping with the Latino tradition of the quinceañera (15th birthday celebration), the festival will launch with screening of “Sobreviviendo Mis XV” (“Surviving My XV”), a coming of age comedy from director Chava Cartas.
“It’s our quinceañera, so it’s a very fitting film to open with,” Douek said. There will also be a themed opening night party.
“It’s going to be a quinceañera party,” Douek added. “It’ll start with a pink carpet instead of a red carpet, and we’re going to have a big quinceañera cake and DJs.”
The film will screen at The Montalbán Theatre in Hollywood, which along with Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live and LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in downtown Los Angeles, will host the festival.
The screenings are presented in different categories that include México Ahora (Mexico Today), which showcases movies that exemplify the best of modern Mexican cinema with films like “Radical.” It tells the uplifting story of Sergio Juarez, an elementary school teacher who takes a job in a small border town where violence has become normal. “Radical” screens on Oct. 6 at The Montalbán.
“It was just at Sundance and it’s getting a little bit of Oscar buzz. It’s a fantastic piece of cinema,” Douek said.
Documentaries are also on the lineup, as well as films in the El Otro México category, which tell stories about lesser-known and seldom seen facets of Mexican life.
“These films are beautiful because they transport us to a Mexico we may never see on TV or in the news,” Douek said.
One such film in this category is “Vaychiletik,” which is about José, a Tzotzil Mayan man who became a musician because he thought it was his destiny to perform at his community’s sacred festivities. It screens on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at L.A. Live.
“It’s all about our culture and how we live our values. It’s really nice to see these things being transmitted in real life in these stories,” Douek said. “We want people to know that Mexican cinema doesn’t start and finish with ‘The Three Amigos.’ There’s much more to it.”
Hola México Film Festival
When: Various times on Sept. 29-Oct. 7
Where: Montalbán Theatre, 1615 Vine Street, Hollywood; Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live, 1000 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles; LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, 501 N. Main Street, Los Angeles.
Tickets: Starting at $12. For more information and a listing of films, go to holamexicoff.com.