Contest brings in over 120 entries; winner announced at pre-festival party
By Anthony King | SDUN Editor
Little Italy’s Noel-Baza Fine Art Gallery at 2165 India St. played host to the unveiling of the official 20th anniversary Latino Film Festival poster at a pre-festival reception held Jan. 9. Organized by the Media Arts Center in North Park, the Festival is scheduled to take place March 7 – 17.
Festival Director and Media Arts Founder Ethan van Thillo held a contest for this year’s poster, which will be used in all promotional material for the two-week, annual event.
Los Angeles-based photographer and graphic designer Juan Luis Garcia was announced as this year’s poster-design winner, after an extensive process headed by the festival’s 2013 selection committee. The competition received over 120 entries, and the committee chose 10 finalists to compete for a $1,000 cash prize.
Garcia’s winning work – a colorful, classic movie camera dressed up as a piñata – was chosen among work by artists Alejandro Franseschini, Juan Luis Garcia, Diana Mota, Hugo Espinosa, Lupe Duarte, Sami Kähkönen, Tu Anh and Ricardo Vallejo.
“This being the 20th year, I wanted to acknowledge and celebrate this milestone as well as all of Latino filmmaking,” Garcia said in his artist statement. “What better way to do that than by combining the quintessential image of a piñata with that of the most important tool in filmmaking.”
The contest ended Oct. 31, 2012, and Garcia said the idea came to him almost at the last moment.
“With only a couple of weeks left in the poster contest, I drove to San Diego in search of inspiration,” he said in a release. “I went looking to photograph local landmarks like the Gaslamp district, Balboa Park, the kissing sailor statue, the ‘family crossing’ signs on the freeway and the lighthouse.”
Not finding inspiration and discovering the sailor statue, officially called “Unconditional Surrender,” removed from its Downtown location for restoration, Garcia said he returned to L.A. after a disappointing day.
“It was on my drive home that I began daydreaming of my childhood birthday parties and all the fun I had dancing, eating ‘tres leches’ cake and, of course, trying to sneak a peek through my blindfold to hit the piñata,” he said. “And that’s when it hit me. What a better way to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film festival than with a camera piñata.”
With little time remaining before the contest closed, Garcia said he went to Amazing Piñatas Inc., a company specializing in custom-made piñatas, to create the camera piñata. The prop, he said, could also be displayed at the festival itself.
“They were able to turn it around with just enough time for me to photograph it and design the poster,” he said. “I wanted the poster to celebrate the festival, as well as Latino filmmaking.”
Garcia’s debut photo exhibition book, “Cuba Y Cubans,” received international acclaim after its 2011 release, and the artist is currently working on his second book, titled “Face Value: Mirror Portraits.” Including his work for the San Diego festival, he also designed movie posters for the upcoming release of “The Great Gatsby” as well as last fall’s “Lincoln” and “Django Unchained.”
In addition to screening over 160 films from Latin America and the United States and to celebrate the festival’s anniversary, the Media Arts Center will be showcasing their “top 10 groundbreaking and influential Latino films” from the past 20 years. Highlights include “Amores Perros,” “Y Tú Mamá También” and “Desperado” from Mexico, “Todo Sobre Mi Madre” from Spain, and “Ciudade de Deus,” or “City of God,” from Brazil, among others.
For more information about the upcoming festival, or to purchase pre-sale tickets, visit sdlatinofilm.com or call 619-230-1938. To see a collection of Garcia’s work, visit juanluisgarcia.com.