The Watsonville Film Festival expands into four days
In 2011, Jose Antonio Vargas, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist for the Washington Post, outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in New York Times magazine.
Brought to the United States as a 12-year-old boy by his grandparents, who had legally migrated to the country from the Philippines, Vargas’ story, including his later journey through America as an immigration reform activist spurred by his public revelation, was made into a documentary called Documented.
On Saturday, March 7, the film will be shown during a special presentation at the fourth annual Watsonville Film Festival, after which Vargas himself will lead a Q&A with the audience.
“He’s a very compelling storyteller,” says Consuelo Alba, film festival director and co-founder. “At the forefront of the Dreamers movement, it is an amazing opportunity to have him in Watsonville to engage and talk with students and the community.”
This year’s film festival, which has expanded to four days, now includes a red carpet event on opening night at Green Valley Cinemas in Watsonville—with free food and drinks prepared by local entrepreneurs from the El Pajaro Community Development Corporation’s Kitchen Incubator Program—and a closing community festival on Sunday in the city’s historic downtown, with live music by the Latin music ensemble Los Malangueros. The closing party is sponsored by the Plaza Vigil Merchants Association. Santa Cruz MAH will hold a Pop Up Museum on the theme “Define American” on Saturday.
“It is not just about showing films,” says Alba, “but connecting all the dots and creating synergy in the community.”
But for those movie buffs out there, this year’s festival certainly delivers, with films that show the intimate stories and forgotten moments in our collective history, told from a fresh perspective.
The festival kicks off with The Storm that Swept Mexico, a sweeping documentary on the Mexican Revolution—the first historical event of its kind to be captured on film.
The film, narrated by Luis Valdez, will be followed by a conversation with director Ray Telles and the local musicians from Watsonville and Santa Cruz who contributed to the film’s score.
On Friday, the night’s feature film at the Henry Mello Center, Sleep Dealer, is a dystopian take on a future where drones flood the sky and borders are omniscient. A winner at Sundance, the film’s director Alex Rivera will sit for a Q&A after the screening.
The critically acclaimed East Side Sushi tells the poignant tale of a Latina fruit seller as she strives to become accepted as a sushi chef. Watsonville Taiko will perform before its Saturday night screening, which will be followed by a Q&A with the film’s director Anthony Lucero, and cast.
The Watsonville Film Festival runs from Thursday, March 5 to Sunday, March 8. Tickets are $10; youth under 18 free with student ID. Visit watsonvillefilmfestival.org for the full festival schedule. PHOTO: Diana Elizabeth Torres and Yutaka Takeuchi in Anthony Lucero’s award-winning ‘East Side Sushi’.