Introducing Watsonville Film Festival’s new look: a virtual cinema with free access to award-winning films
Under the theme “Stories Matter,” the 9th annual Watsonville Film Festival will spotlight 20 award-winning indie and local films, running from March 5-13. The program also includes a series of online special events, including Q&As with filmmakers. All films and events will be available for free at watsonvillefilmfest.org. Stay tuned to Lookout for trailers of upcoming films.
Under the theme Stories Matter, the 9th annual Watsonville Film Festival (WFF) will present online a powerful and unique selection of 20 films by award-winning directors and local filmmakers for free from March 5-13.
We are very proud to be able to share this program with the community. After canceling our Festival two days before Opening Night in 2020 due to the pandemic, we kept working all year to put this program together. The situation with COVID has been very intense for everyone, especially for Watsonville, so we decided to offer our programming free as a gift to our community.
Starting Friday, March 5th at 7 p.m., you can watch, via our virtual cinema, films that celebrate Latinx artistry, that put a human face on issues we are confronting as a society, and that give us reasons to rejoice and have hope.
It’s important to note that historically, Latinx have been underrepresented in front of and behind the camera. Only 4.5% of movies released in the last 10 years featured Latinx characters, many of them with negative stereotypes. Watsonville Film Festival is doing its part to bring equity and representation to cinema in our region.
— Consuelo Alba, Executive Director of the Watsonville Film Festival
By putting the spotlight on filmmakers who tell new or long-overlooked stories, and by inviting underrepresented voices to share their creativity, Watsonville Film Festival is weaving a new and vibrant tapestry of what the world really looks like.
Empowering our community, especially our youth, to tell their own stories and sharing those narratives is something we are truly proud of. This year we are presenting four local shorts created during the pandemic by high school and college students. All films will be available at watsonvillefilmfest.org from March 5-13 for free. Donations are greatly appreciated. Films not in English have English subtitles.
Drum roll please...The 2021 WFF Film Selections!
Fandango at the Wall
Directed by Varda Bar-Kar
Produced by Carlos Santana & Quincy Jones, this 2020 documentary brings the US and Mexico together through music by following multi Grammy Award winners Arturo O’Farrill and Kabir Sehgal, as they prepare to record a live album at the border wall inspired by the annual Fandango Fronterizo Festival.
Directed by Jaime Murciego & Pablo Iraburu
Nominated to seven Goya Awards in 2021 (Oscars in Spain)
Five Bolivian indigenous women are involved in a unique expedition. As a symbol of liberation and empowerment, they propose to climb the highest mountain in America.
El Guardián de la Memoria / The Guardian of Memory
Directed by Marcela Arteaga
2020 Winner of Best Documentary Award by the Mexican Film Academy
The Guardian of Memory is an intense and artistic documentary film that bears witness to the violence that has displaced thousands, while examining how governments on both sides of the border have exacerbated the crisis.
Directed by Fanny Veliz Grande
A high school principal in San Benito, a small town in Texas, hosts a yearly Quinceañera for students that can’t afford it. The entire border town gets together to teach these girls that with the power of community any dream can come true.
El Sembrador / The Sower
Directed by Melissa Elizondo
Audience Award Winner of the Morelia International Film Festival
In The Sower we meet Bartolomé, a teacher in a multi-grade school in the mountains of Chiapas, Mexico, who knows well that pedagogy is not based on textbooks and cannot fit within the walls of a classroom.
Corazón de Mezquite
Directed by Ana Laura Calderón
Lucia, an indigenous Yoreme girl living in northern Mexico, fights for her dream against her community’s tradition of not allowing women to play the harp. Along the way, she tries to connect with her father and to find her place in her community.
El último balsero / The Last Rafter
Directed by Carlos Betancourt & Oscar Ortega
After risking his life crossing the Florida Straits on a raft, a young Cuban searches Miami for his missing father. When a political shift makes him America’s first Cuban undocumented immigrant, he must battle the fear of deportation, while unraveling a past of intolerance and hate that haunts him.
Directed by Daniel Oliveras
Pasajuego is the name of the court where the ancient indigenous game of Pelota Mixteca is played. This film offers a window to look through the lives of the Oaxacan people and their diaspora. Today at least two million Oaxacans live in the United States. This is the story of their ballgame, now taking root throughout this country.
Directed by Manuel Del Valle & Sebastián Torres Greene
A prehistoric family’s desperate search for a mythical source of life gets put to the test when egos and obsessions of their male members rise to the surface. Starring Alejandra Herrera, star of Tiempo de Lluvia (and special guest at WFF 2019).
Kii Nche Ndusta - Time and the Seashell
Directed by Itandehui Jansen
A young Indigenous boy imagines his future while listening to the sounds of a seashell. An Indigenous man recalls his past listening to the same shell. This short film invites the audience to consider the past, present and future of a changing landscape and vanishing biodiversity.
Jamaica y Tamarindo: Afro Tradition in the Heart of Mexico
Directed by Ebonie Bailey
The jamaica flower and tamarind are iconic ingredients in Mexico, but their history comes from a place much further away. In Jamaica and Tamarindo we meet five people to explore African heritage in Mexico City, an identity that goes beyond the color of one’s skin.
Juan de las Brujas
Directed by Andrew Houchens
A love letter to Mexico as seen through the memory of Juan Medellín, one of the founding members of the prestigious Ballet Folklórico de Amalia Hernández. Composed of music, dance, architecture, history and animation, this short film is a portrait of a life richly lived and a testament to the power and force of art.
La Bruja de Texcoco
Directed by Alejandro Paredes
After a mysterious encounter with a shaman, Octavio Mendoza, a Mexico City based musician, starts a journey to reconcile with his femininity through his music, in order to become “La Bruja de Texcoco”.
La felicidad en la que vivo - The Happiness in Which I Live
Directed by Carlos Morales
While feeding hummingbirds, Samantha Flores, an 88 year transgender woman based in Mexico City talks about her dream to open center for the LGBTQ elder community.
Directed by Angie Morales
This short film by a UCSC alum shares a Colombian family’s immigration - and American story - seen through the lens of music and dance.
LOCAL STUDENT FILMS
The Sound of Water - Directed by Diego Lopez
Covid & Education - Directed by Angie Rockey
Isolation: My Quarantine Story - Directed by Julián Lopez
Christmas Blues - Directed Isabella Lara
More to come!
- Watsonville Community Video Project
A video produced in collaboration with Inspira Studios, local production company, using videos and photos submitted by community members will be released on Opening Night, Friday, March 5th at 7 p.m.
- Special Events
WFF will host online events throughout the week of the Festival, more information coming soon!
About Watsonville Film Festival
We are a non-profit arts organization founded in 2012 by Watsonville based filmmakers and educators. WFF showcases primarily Latinx stories and uses film as a catalyst to educate, entertain and inspire audiences; to spark powerful conversations and to promote positive impact. See our year-round program at watsonvillefilmfest.org
Virtual Tip JarThe Watsonville Film Festival is a 501(c)(3) private non-profit, your tip supports filmmakers, as well as our ongoing work curating films, conversations & events!
2021 WFF is made possible with generous support from:
California Arts Council
Community Foundation Santa Cruz County
Arts Council Santa Cruz County
Santa Cruz Community Credit Union
Ainsley-Hicks Family Foundation
Rebecca & Bud Colligan
Ow Family Properties
Katz-Lapides Family Fund
Councilmember Rebecca Garcia
Amigos del Festival
Exclusive Media Sponsor
Lookout Santa Cruz
Kuumbwa Jazz Center
Cabrillo College EAOP
Estrellas de Esperanza
Voices of Monterey Bay
Watsonville International Women’s Day
Monterey Bay Murals