The sweeping saga Mi Familia (My Family), a 1995 independent American drama directed and co-written by Oscar-nominated director Gregory Nava (El Norte) has just been added to the roster of 55 films shown at this year’s festival. The screening will be on Friday, June 1 at 11:00 a.m. at Crown Hall in Mendocino. Director Gregory Nava will be on hand to discuss the film, along with two of the film’s stars, Jimmy Smits and Esai Morales. Mi Familia also stars Edward James Olmos, Constance Marie, and Jennifer Lopez in her first major film role.
Struggles of Mexican-American Family in Mi Familia is More Timely Than Ever
The movie depicts three generations of the Mexican-American Sanchez family with humanity, wit, and grace. The narrative begins with the journey on foot of patriarch José, from Mexico to California, and his subsequent marriage to Maria. The Sanchez family settles in East Los Angeles during the 1920s. Narrated by their son Paco, Mi Familia explores the triumphs and tragedies of an immigrant family making their way in the United States. Entertainment Weekly called Mi Familia “uplifting, life-affirming,” and “unshakable in its inspirational intensity,” and the film today is timelier than ever.
“’Mi Familia was blessed with probably the most incredible ensemble of Latino actors ever put on screen: Jimmie Smits, Esai Morales, Edward James Olmos, Jennifer Lopez, Constance Marie, Elpedia Carrillo, and many more,” Nava says. “as director, it was a joy to work with these amazing talents. To have this celebratory screening in Mendocino and appear with two of the great actors whose memorable performances helped propel My Family into being the classic it is—Jimmie Smits and Esai Morales, is a wonderful honor. I can’t wait for the screening—the audience in Mendocino is in for a real treat.”
When the film was released, Nava received kudos for the authenticity of the all-Latino cast. The story focused on a Mexican-American family, yet its themes are universal.
Gang Members Moved to Tears by Jimmy Smits in Mi Familia
“Jimmy Smits gives one of his greatest performances in Mi Familia. Before the film was released we had a test screening in East L.A. and it was filled with tattooed gang members. We were terrified about how this tough crowd would respond to the film. In Jimmie’s emotional scene with Elpedia Carrillo after their love scene, he brought this hardened audience to tears. They said afterwards that he expressed what they all feel. This scene has been bringing audiences to tears ever since. Jimmie is a master.”
Jimmy Smits marks it as a seminal film. “From the beginning, Mi Familia was a movie I knew I had to make,” Smits said. “It’s one of the very few films with an entirely Latino cast and Latino director and all of us working on it felt like it would be a real breakthrough…I like the multi-generational span of the piece. In that respect, the piece to me is like a jewel.”
Kudos from Roger Ebert for Mi Familia
Roger Ebert said of Mi Familia: “Their story is told in images of startling beauty and great overflowing energy; it is rare to hear so much laughter from an audience that is also sometimes moved to tears. Few movies like this get made because few filmmakers have the ambition to open their arms wide and embrace so much life. This is the great American story, told again and again, of how our families came to this land and tried to make it better for their children.”
About Gregory Nava
Greg is an Oscar-nominated writer, acclaimed director and producer, as well as a governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His impressive directorial credits include: El Norte, Selena, Bordertown, A Time of Destiny, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, and the PBS television series American Family: Journey of Dreams. He also co-wrote the screenplay for Frida.
Purchase tickets early, as many events sell out in advance!