In October of 2004 Manuel “Manny” Saldívar, a protégé of movie producer Moctezuma Esparza,
in association with Vanguard Cinema, brought a Latino film festival to downtown Santa Ana’s Metropolitan Fiesta Twin theater. The OCLFF set a standard that has yet to be topped by other attempts at film festivals in Santa Ana, but it went away after two years due to a main sponsor, Vanguard Cinema, pulling support.
Back then there was no “Downtown Inc,” much less a supportive city council. This was during a time when the mayor’s office found it “unethical” to have a Latino film festival in Santa Ana. We’ve seen that now the city sponsors another film festival and puts their seal of approval on it (same mayor, different council).
The inaugural festival was visited by Mexican film industry heavyweights Gerardo Tort (director), Fernando Sariñana (director and father of singer Ximena Sariñana), Carolina Rivera (screenwriter) and Maya Zapata (actress), as well as local industry professionals Michael Peña (Crash, Walkout, etc), Moctezuma Esparza (producer), and others.
An opening night outdoor gala was held at the Artist’s Village downtown promenade, in between Pangea (now Lola Gaspar) and the Gypsy Den. Pangea provided catering.
2004 Feature-length Films:
Amar te duele
Alex Lora, Esclavo del rocanrol
Asesino en serio
Azul y blanco
Chalino Sánchez – Una vida de peligros
Como el gato para el ratón
Cuento de hadas para dormir cocodrilos
De la calle
El misterio de la trinidad
Hoy y mañana
Las caras de la luna
Carros clásicos de Cuba
2004 Short Film Program:
Dia de suerte
Que me va hacer
Moctezuma Esparza, Producer – “Selena”, “God’s & Generals”, “Walkout”
Carolina Rivera, Screenwriter – “Amar te duele, “Todo el poder,” “Cilantro y Perejil,” “Niñas Mal”
Fernando Sariñana, Director – “Amar te duele,” “Todo el poder”
Gerardo Tort, Director – “De la calle”
Luis Kelly, Director – “Alex Lora: Escalvo del rocanrol”
Nacho Argiro, Director – “El nominado”
In part two, we’ll look at the 2005 Orange County Latino Film Festival and the people that took part in it.