Diversity in film is something Mendocino Film Festival Program Director Claudia Puig is passionate about. A native Spanish speaker, Claudia studied at both Cambridge University and Universidad Ibero –Americana in Mexico City. She has served as a speechwriter and diversity consultant for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and teaches a college course, Diversity in the Media in Los Angeles. Her consulting business specializes in film analysis and diversity issues. In 2018, Claudia was the winner of the Roger Ebert Award for Excellence in Film Criticism from the African-American Critics Association. No wonder Claudia and this year’s crackerjack team of women programmers, Ann Walker, Pat Ferrero, Kira Wojack, and Maggie Mackay have selected films that illustrate diversity in culture, lifestyle, and and gender.
Latino Culture and Gender Diversity
Latino culture is represented in many films this year, including a retrospective showing of the classic, My Family (Mi Family) starring Jimmy Smits, Esai Morales, Edward James Olmos, and Jennifer Lopez in her first film. Director Greg Nava and stars Jimmy Smits and Esai Morales will be in attendance for Q&A after the film.
Listen to a fascinating interview with Greg Nava here.
Read article from Remezcla here.
The incendiary singer and star Chavela Vargas, known for jumping onstage wearing pants, a poncho, and a pistol, is portrayed in the documentary film, Chavela. Her passionate love songs to women were deemed scandalous in Mexico of the 1950s, yet, after a long bout with alcoholism, she achieved a triumphant comeback in her 70s. Equally incendiary, the National Pyrotechnic Festival of Tultepic, Mexico is brilliantly illuminated in the documentary film, Brimstone and Glory, and ¡LAS SANDINISTAS! takes us on a journey from the 1970s to today with the women who have struggled and fought in Nicaragua. On a lighter note, Pixar’s Academy-Award winning animated feature Coco is a “resplendent, celebratory love letter to Mexico.”
Diversity and Women of Color
Night Comes On, winner of a NEXT Innovator Award at Sundance this year, portrays a desperate world of sisterhood in a hostile landscape, and Ovarian Psycos is about a new generation of fierce, unapologetic feminist women of color from East LA who confront injustice, build community, and redefine their identity with a raucous and irreverent bicycle crew.
See the amazing lineup of films and watch trailers here.
Claudia is president of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) and a nationally recognized entertainment journalist. Currently a critic for NPR’s Film Week and a contributor to Morning Edition and All Things Considered, she was a film critic for 18 years at USA Today, and host of their video series The Screening Room. Claudia is much in demand as a moderator for entertainment industry panels and Q&As, and recently moderated a panel of women filmmakers at Harvard University, and another on film criticism at Ebertfest at the University of Illinois.