The 2022 Watsonville Film Festival will present their free film program online for 10 days in addition to a special event held at the Mello Center on Saturday, March 12.
(Watsonville Film Festival)
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2022 Watsonville Film Festival honors landmark American film

Get ready to uplift local talent as Watsonville prepares to launch their 10th Annual Film Festival. The event will feature over 30 local and student films from March 11 - 20, available for free on their streaming channel. In addition, this year’s festival will include a special in-person event at the Mello Center for Performing Arts to showcase the incredible work of one outstanding film & filmmaker.

This year, WFF is honoring Real Women Have Curves, a landmark American independent film on its 20th Anniversary, with an in-person screening at the Mello Center Saturday March 12 at 6PM.

Josefina Lopez, who based the story on her own life as a child of immigrants in Los Angeles, will be the special guest. The film stars America Ferrera in her first feature film, which launched her career. It won the Sundance Audience Award, and was recently inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry. The event is free of charge, but people are encouraged to register on the WFF website.

Seven local emerging Latinx filmmakers who were selected to the inaugural WFF Cine Se Puede Fellowship will also be recognized at the March 12 event. Through this new program, the fellows will receive funding, tailored mentorship and ongoing support for 13 months.

“Our goal is to support early career filmmakers at a critical point in their professional journey, who are looking for sustainability to continue working and thriving in our region.”

— Brenda Avila-Hanna, WFF Cine Se Puede Fellowship Coordinator and Documentary Filmmaker

WFF will also screen several local films, including fiction shorts Amor en Cuarentena and Disposable, experimental film Oda a los Frijoles and the documentaries Painter of Dreams, La Perla del Pacifico and The Work of Art (El Oficio del Arte). The screening of Disposable will be a world premiere.

“We are proud to present another great program this year. The outpouring of support to celebrate our 10th birthday has been amazing. We are very grateful to the filmmakers, sponsors, donors, Amigos del Festival and our wonderful audience.”

— Consuelo Alba, Director of Watsonville Film Festival

Since 2012, the WFF has made a name for itself by programming thoughtful and provocative films, celebrating Latinx filmmakers and stories, supporting local storytellers, and opening spaces for Latinx audiences. The arts non-profit organization presents an annual festival, plus year-round programs, including the beloved Día de Muertos celebration at the Watsonville Plaza.

Read on to learn more about the expansive roster of amazing short films being shown at this year’s festival.

real women have curves
(Watsonville Film Festival)

Real Women Have Curves (Special 20th Anniversary Presentation)

Directed by Patricia Cardoso

A coming-of-age story about a young Mexican-American woman (America Ferrera) on the cusp of adulthood, Real Women Have Curves was co-written – and based on the stage play – by Josefina López who wrote about her own life as a child of immigrants in Los Angeles.

The film was recently inducted into the Library of Congress National Film Registry, and Director Patricia Cardoso is is the first Latina to have a film receive this honor. The film received two Sundance awards when it premiered in 2002. It is featured in the opening exhibition of the Motion Picture Academy Museum.

el agente topo
(Watsonville Film Festival)

El Agente Topo/The Mole Agent

Directed by Maite Alberdi

When 83-year-old Sergio is sent as an undercover spy to a Chilean retirement home to track suspected elder abuse, he learns a deeper lesson about human connection. Through the lens of the hidden camera in his decoy glasses, viewers watch as Sergio struggles to balance his assignment with his increasing involvement in the lives of several residents. Presented in collaboration with POV, PBS’ award-winning nonfiction film series. Nominated for Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature 2021

Watsonville Film Festival

fruits of labor
(Watsonville Film Festival)

Fruits of Labor

Directed by Emily Cohen Ibañez

Fruits of Labor follows the day-in-a-life of Ashley, a young farm and factory worker in Watsonville, who dreams of being the first in her family to graduate from high school and go to college. Fruits of Labor is a lyrical, coming-of-age documentary feature about adolescence, labor, nature and the ancestors. Presented in collaboration with POV, PBS’ award-winning nonfiction film series.

A local film

Watsonville Film Festival

identifying features
(Watsonville Film Festival)

Sin Señas Particulares / Identifying Features

Directed by Fernanda Valadez & Astrid Rondero

A mother travels from Guanajuato to the border in search of her son, whom authorities say died while trying to cross the borders into the United States. Desperate to find out what happened to him—and to know whether or not he’s even alive—she embarks on an ever-expanding and increasingly dangerous journey to discover the truth. Premiered at Sundance Film Festival, winning the Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic and the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Screenplay.

For mature audiences.


Watsonville Film Festival

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Tesoros / Treasures

Directed by María Novaro

In the town of Barra de Potosí, a small fishing community on the Mexican Pacific coast, a group of children are certain that together - and with the right map - they will find a pirate’s treasure that has been hiding nearby for centuries. But what they are about to find is something far more valuable than a treasure. A film for children, their parents and their grandparents.

Great for all ages.

los hermanos
(Watsonville Film Festival)

Los Hermanos / The Brothers

Directed by Marcia Jarmel & Ken Schneider

Ilmar and Aldo are virtuoso Cuban-born brothers living on opposite sides of a geopolitical chasm a half century wide. Tracking their parallel lives, poignant reunion, and momentous first performances together, Los Hermanos / The Brothers offers a nuanced view of estranged nations through the lens of music and family.

For music lovers.


Watsonville Film Festival

cosas que no hacemos
(Watsonville Film Festival)

Cosas que no hacemos / Things We Dare Not Do

Directed by Bruno Santamaría

In the small Mexican coastal village of El Roblito, 16-year-old Ñoño lives what seems to be an idyllic existence with his loving family. But he holds a secret. Defying gender norms, Ñoño works up the courage to tell his family he wants to live his life as a woman, a fraught decision in a country shrouded in machismo and transphobia. Presented in collaboration with POV, PBS’ award-winning nonfiction film series. Nominated to the Ariel Award from the Mexican Film Academy.

Watsonville Film Festival

el canto des las mariposas
(Watsonville Film Festival)

El Canto de las Mariposas / The Song of the Butterflies

Directed by Núria Frigola Torrent

Rember Yahuarcani, an indigenous artist from an almost-extinguished nation, returns to his grandmother’s land looking for inspiration and discovers why the stories of his ancestors cannot be forgotten. Presented in collaboration with POV, PBS’ award-winning nonfiction film series.

LGBTQ highlight.

Watsonville Film Festival

walls of passion
(Watsonville Film Festival)

Siqueiros: Walls of Passion

Directed by Lorena Manriquez & Miguel Picker

Siqueiros: Walls of Passion profiles the great Mexican muralist and activist David Alfaro Siqueiros and the resurrection of his Los Angeles mural América Tropical, located at the birthplace of Los Angeles and later championed by the Chicano movement as a symbol of its oppressed culture.

Watsonville Film Festival

(Watsonville Film Festival)


Directed by Cecilia Aldarondo

When Hurricane María made landfall in Puerto Rico in 2017, the US territory was already 72 billion dollars in debt. Landfall examines the kinship of these two storms—one environmental, the other economic—juxtaposing competing visions of recovery. Featuring intimate encounters with Puerto Ricans as well as with newcomers motivated by “disaster capitalism” flooding the island, Landfall reflects on a question of contemporary global relevance: When the world falls apart, who do we become? Presented in collaboration with POV, PBS’ award-winning nonfiction film series.

Watsonville Film Festival

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Oaxacalifornia: The Return

Directed by Trisha Ziff

An intimate portrait of three generations of a Mexican-American family in California, Oaxacalifornia: The Return revisits the Mejía family twenty-five years after they were first portrayed negotiating their place in a new environment. The film digs deep into the complexities of multigenerational immigrant identities and the nuances of both belonging and otherness to become a moving epic about the fabric of this nation.

Watsonville Film Festival

el oficio del arte
(Watsonville Film Festival)

El Oficio del Arte / The Work of Art

Directed by Shelly Errington & José Luis Reza

This captivating documentary takes us into the homes, minds, and hearts of folk artists in Mexico, who reveal their craft practices and family life in their own words. Social and economic issues emerge discreetly as we follow their work processes and efforts to gain recognition for their art. Settings range from intimate locales in workshops and family homes to panoramic mountain vistas and festive markets.

By local a filmmaker.

Watsonville Film Festival

la casa de mama icha
(Watsonville Film Festival)

La Casa de Mama Icha

Directed by Oscar Molina

Decades earlier, Mama Icha moved to the US to help her daughter with her children’s care. However, she never lost sight of her hometown in Colombia. Now, at the end of her life, Mama Icha boards a plane back home, finding joy and heartbreak. Presented in collaboration with POV, PBS’ award-winning nonfiction film series.

Watsonville Film Festival

five years north
(Watsonville Film Festival)

Five Years North

Directed by Zach Ingrasci & Chris Temple

Five Years North is the coming-of-age story of Luis, an undocumented Guatemalan boy who has just arrived alone in New York City. He struggles to work, study, and evade officer Judy - the Cuban-American ICE officer patrolling his neighborhood.

Presented in collaboration with America Reframed.

Watsonville Film Festival

Mariposas del Campo
(Watsonville Film Festival)

Mariposas del Campo

Directed by Bill Yahraus & Robin Rosenthal

Indigenous teenagers from Mexico strive to change their families’ destinies in the strawberry fields of Oxnard, California. Through a stormy year of sanctioned racism and anti-immigrant policies, their journeys are captured—with help from their own videos—as they navigate school, cultural identity, parental expectations, economic challenges, and the justice needs of their migrant farmworker community.

Watsonville Film Festival

Sponsors of the 2022 Watsonville Film Festival include University of California Santa Cruz / Arts Division, Ow Family Properties, Community Foundation Santa Cruz County, California Arts Council, Packard Foundation, Santa Cruz Community Credit Union, Annieglass, Arts Council Santa Cruz County and others.

  • Event
    10th Annual Watsonville Film Festival
    Presenting 30+ award-winning and local films online from March 11-20, this year’s festival will also feature a special in-person program celebrating 10th anniversary of WFF with “Real Women Have Curves” at the Mello Center on Saturday, March 12 from 6:00 - 8:30 PM.
    Saturday, March 12, 2022 - 6:00 PM