Habana Eva

Looking at Habana Eva

Habana EvaHabana Eva is no your typical romantic comedy. Fina Torress, the film’s director, provides a refreshingly modern spin the tired story of romantic love triangle.

Eva, a young seamstress in modern day Cuba, is stuck with a stifling job in a dress factory and with her clueless slacker fiancé. When she meets Jorge, a charming and intelligent ex-patriot, her worldview expands. Eva becomes torn between her simple fiancé Angel, and the alluring new man in her life.

Torres utilizes this love triangle not to stifle Eva’s development, but to propel Eva as a protagonist. Eva shows warmth and incredible talent as a seamstress, but she is settling in a life she knows she doesn’t want.

Throughout the film, Eva undergoes a transformation and emerges as a strong and liberated female character. She begins to make decisions on her own terms by defying conventions and using her talents.

The film’s brilliance is also due in large part to the supporting cast. Eva’s best friend Teresa, is an escort who became self-sufficient and happy on her own terms. She is incredibly honest, racy, and energetic.

Equally fun to watch was Eva’s father, mother, and sister, whom together represent a more traditional mindset. The cast represents a tension between modernity and tradition in Cuba, a dominant theme in this film.

Torres’ desire to challenge gender and relationship norms with unconventional stories truly makes this film an enjoyable, surprising, and thought-provoking film. The humor in this story and energy filled dialogue enhance Torres’ commentary on modern women and their relationships.

Torres and her cast prove that women can and should have it all.

Stand-up for Gays

Comedians at last Wednesday’s Punk House comedy show at the Westside Comedy Theater used superficial topics such as Facebook, Twilight, vagazzling (yes, that is a portmanteau for bedazzling one’s vagina), and even a particularly austere audience member to get viewers to laugh.

So, when budding Mexican-American comedian Manuel Zermeno focused his performance on his gay identity, he immediately stood out.

In his washed-out jeans with a belt-buckle the size of a large mango, Zermeno took off his crisp, white, jean-jacket a few minutes into his routine to reveal the yellow “Legalize Gay” print on his navy-blue cotton tee.

“I am gay,” Zermeno said, pausing seriously before continuing with more style quips.

If he grew out his bangs and bleached them, he figures he could pass for a hot lesbian, or the butch one in the group. Zermeno use his jokes to place himself on the gender spectrum rather than the stark, mainstream binaries of male and female.

Zermeno’s material centered on gay culture, and though comical throughout, it doesn’t try to stay lighthearted. He approached a more serious political issue: Proposition 8 and the current decision to ban same-sex marriages in California.

He shared his realization that, with his many gay friends, he’s probably never going to be a best man, but that in a way, he has less to worry about. While he doesn’t have to plan out a bachelor party, or write the traditional best-man speech, is this really a burden to be relieved of or an resigned look at the inequalities he faces?

Zermeno’s wry humor openly discusses gender and sexuality and brings abstract political issues to the audience through his personal life. His material imparts fashion, inspiration and the human experience. Given his options, Zermeno takes a stand the best way he can.

Not Just One of the Herd

When describing the process of making a successful project, Humberto Hinojosa Oscáriz says “Lo que gana, es la historia.” This could not be truer for his terrific film, Oveja Negra (Black Sheep). Set in Mexico, this film is an incredibly realistic portrayal of friendship, dreams, and class relationships.

Oscáriz, screenwriter and director, tells a winning story about friends Jose and Kumbia who tire of being peons for a wealthy ranch owner and his malicious son, Jeronimo. They devise a plan to steal their boss’ sheep to get across the American border. But, their plan is complicated by Jose’s feelings for Maria, a flirtatious and wealthy young girl who has also caught the attention of Jeronimo.

The characters Oscáriz has created in the film have a captivating depth, which makes for a very truthful depiction of a reality. Kumbia is a very charismatic, loyal, funny, and bold character who hopes of a better life in the United States. He frequently speaks a hilarious form of Spanglish and truly brings a warm humanity to the American dream hopeful.

This film’s lighthearted characters and clever dialogue don’t detract from larger issues, such as corruption, exploitation, and poverty. Oscáriz said that he wanted to maintain real depiction of friendship by also portraying the disparities between social classes in Mexico.

He achieved this not only with his story, but also with his authentically gritty cinematography. One of the first scenes in the film depicts Kumbia and Jose lying in an open field discussing their dreams on a scorching hot day, Kumbia’s forehead is covered in tiny beads of sweat and dirt that seem ready to burst. Each scene not only helps narrate the story between the characters, but symbolizes a reality for people in Mexico.

Oscáriz said he’s known he wanted to create this film since he attended Iberoamericana University. The film’s spectacular storyline, cast, and cinematography make this film one that is definitely worth the wait.

Hermano Kicks-off Latino Film Festival

Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theater hosted Latino talent and supporters for the opening night of the 14th Annual Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) providing an outlet and distribution opportunities for exceptional new stories created by or about Latinos.

The festival commenced with the film Hermano, Venezuelan filmmaker Marcel Rasquin’s first feature-length film, a family drama and sports film about disillusionment and motivation.

Hermano follows two Venezuelan teenagers, brothers by fate, after Julio and his mother saved Daniel from a dump when he was a baby. In a destitute neighborhood ruled by crime, making it on to the Caracas Futbol Club is the only way out for these brothers. They both have proven his talent, but each must make his own decisions about life, growing up, and getting out.

More than a compelling film about family, survival, and determination, Hermano exhibits incredible story-telling, outstanding actors in demanding roles, and impressive cinematography. The slum of La Ceniza is transformed into a central character, engulfing and spitting out its distressed inhabitants, as well as a rich postcard-like backdrop for viewers.

Rasquin described his process of reconnecting with his Venezuelan identity as personal motivation for Hermano. While studying film in Australia, Rasquin was exoticized because of where he came from, although growing up he was always interested in the world outside of Venezuela. This sparked a growth in interest for his culture.
LALIFF Opening night

Edward James Olmos, co-director of LALIFF, actor, and director, noted that audiences do not have the opportunity to view about 90% of the films featured by the festival in commercial venues. Olmos stressed that audiences should come out to support and “see the best films that they can see from outside the United States of America.”

Marlene Dermer, executive director of LALIFF commented on the importance of showcasing foreign and independent Latino films. “We [as Latinos] need to define ourselves. I love Hollywood films as much as anyone else, but it makes me feel good when I see a film about my community,” she said.

Find out more about the program, schedule, and tickets at www.latinofilm.org

More than a Night on the Town

Sometimes it’s not feasible to plan an exotic excursion out of the country, let alone, out of town. Have no fear, we have a guide for the non-travelers too. The best part? These activities are FREE!

Art & Museums:

Los Angeles offers a broad range of events to make you feel inspired and get creative with your summer nights and days out. This city offers free walking tours of everything from the bustling downtown Los Angeles to the rich historical panorama of the Great Wall of Los Angeles. The Getty Center in LA has an impressive collection of Western art, while the Getty Villa in Malibu showcases the art and culture of the Ancient Greeks and Romans. The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Downtown Los Angeles is the only museum in the city dedicated to contemporary art. Both the Fowler and the Hammer are located in Westwood, but their collections differ greatly. The Fowler explores global arts and cultures while the Hammer displays different forms of artistic expression through the centuries. There is no reason not to check these places out!

Downtown Art Walk The tour takes place on the 2nd Thursday of every month and it’s a great way to explore a different side of Los Angeles.


The Great Wall of Los Angeles This has been a part of L.A.’s landscape since 1974. Under the direction of muralist Judy Baca, it continues to be a work in progress. Driving directions are available on the website, make sure you don’t miss out!


Getty Center LA Admission to the Getty Center and to all exhibitions is FREE—no tickets or reservations are required for general admission. The museum is closed on Monday and Parking is $15.

Getty Villa in Malibu The Getty Villa in Malibu showcases the culture and art of ancient Greece and Rome. Tickets are free, but they require booking in advance. The museum is closed on Tuesdays and Parking is $15.


Fowler Museum Admission is FREE


Hammer Museum Free on Thursdays for all visitors


MOCA Admission to MOCA Grand Avenue is free every Thursday, 5–8pm.



There are many different attractions in the LA area that will satisfy your curiosity! At the La Brea Tar Pits visitors can learn about Los Angeles during the last Ice Age, when animals such as saber-toothed cats and mammoths roamed the Los Angeles Basin. The Griffith observatory is an icon of the Los Angeles area and offers a beautiful space for public star-gazing and telescope viewing. Do you want to see other kinds of stars? The Hollywood Walk of Fame is a great way to get close (sorta) to legendary movie stars, both dead and alive. The California Science Center, offers a wonderful hands-on learning experience.

La Brea Tar Pits Admission is free on the first Tuesday of each month.


Griffith Observatory Admission and Parking are free, but be aware that parking is very limited, especially on weekends.


Hollywood Walk of Fame FREE–minus the dollar that the Marylin look-alike suckered out of you.


California Science Center Admission permanent exhibition galleries is FREE. Parking is $8.



Los Angeles is a city full of diversity and with many different ethnic enclaves it makes it the perfect city to learn about the different cultures! Chinatown, Historic Filipinotown, Koreatown, Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Little Tokyo, Thai Town, and Olvera Street provide examples of the diverse character of Los Angeles. Each of these areas offers many delicious cultural eats, interesting shops and historical and artistic spaces.


If you like music, being outdoors, meeting people, dancing, the summer and free things, summer concerts are for you! There are various concerts going on all summer long like the Farmers Market Summer Music Series one of LA’s most popular and exciting free music series. Don’t know what to do on a beautiful, summer night in Southern California? Don’t have a lot of cash to spend? Love the beach and music? Check out the Twilight Dance Series at the Santa Monica Pier! If you love listening to Brazilian Samba, Rock en Español, Hip Hop and Afro-Cuban sounds, then Grand Performances Summer Festival is definitely for you! Venturing out to Pasadena might not be a bad idea. Take advantage of the Levitt Pavillion Free Music Under the Stars summer series of 50 free music concerts at the historic Memorial Park band shell in the heart of Old Pasadena. Long Beach also offers a three month festival called Summer and Music, which includes the Long Beach Funk Fest, Gospel Fest, and musicians performing at various outdoor venues.

Farmers Market Summer Music Series


Twilight Dance and Music at the Santa Monica Pier


Grand Performances Summer Festival


Levitt Pavillion Free Music Under the Stars


Summer and Music 2010


Fun in the Sun:


LA has one of the world’s best weather so why not enjoy the summer out in the sun with various FREE activities at our fingertips, or should I say toes too?! First there is the amazing array of beaches! Do you love observing people? Then Venice Beach is for you! This is one place where the eclectic Venice Ocean Front Walk can upstages the actual beach. Want to feel like you’re a star at the beach? Manhattan Beach is where you need to be, as scenes from many television shows have been filmed there. Love surfing? When it’s time to get out the surfboard and zip on the wetsuit, there’s no better place to be than Malibu Beach. Love long stretches of sand or even going on a Ferris wheel on the pier, then head over to Santa Monica State Beach. Are you looking for a more romantic experience? El Matador Beach is located about 10 miles northwest of Malibu; this secluded pocket beach is the perfect place to enjoy a sunset dinner in one of the hidden coves. Are you looking for a beach that offers something during the long summer nights? Dockweiller Beach offers fire pits for beach barbecues and bonfires.



For the nature lovers, Los Angles offers a selection of places to satisfy your hiking needs with multiple trails. There are various trails that fit both your likes and endurance, so please check them out and select the one that best suits you.


Stop and smell the roses! If you do not feel like being out in the direct sunlight you can always find some shade in these beautiful gardens. The Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens is located on our wonderful campus. It’s a little oasis in the middle of south campus. The Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden is one of the perks of being a UCLA student because there are some really marvelous pieces displayed on this tree-filled green landscape. But tourists and art lovers alike should come and spend some time in this garden. The Hannah Carter Japanese Garden was inspired by the gardens in Kyoto and is located in the Bel Air neighborhood nearby UCLA. If you travel a little further east, you’ll find the Huntington Botanical Gardens is one of the LA area’s best; this is a must-see for tourists and residents alike.

Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Gardens www.botgard.ucla.edu/html
Franklin D. Murphy Sculpture Garden www.travelinlocal.com
Hannah Carter Japanese Garden www.japanesegarden.ucla.edu
The Huntington Botanical Gardens www.huntington.org

Did we miss something? Share your favorite summer activities with us! Shoot us an email at [email protected]

Traveling Tastebuds

Want to celebrate summer Latin American-style, but don’t have the money to go to Argentina, Cuba, El Salvador, Mexico or any country south of the US border?
La Gente has your guide to local restaurants that embody Latin American flavors.
Go out there, satisfy your tastes buds and enjoy!
Con amor la

UCLA is close to the biggest population of Oaxacaqueños outside of Mexico.
Monte Alban Restaurant is just the place for traditional Oaxacan food. It is nicknamed the “House of Moles” with a specialty of Mole Negro, as well as a variety of other moles. Enjoy coffee with a hint of cinnamon before your main course and have a Cilacayota, a seasonal squash drink originally from Oaxaca to accompany your meal.
Price: $
(310) 444-7736
11927 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
The likelihood of going to Cuba for leisure? Near impossible. On a tight budget? Then Miami is out the question. The closest answer I have is Versailles. This restaurant gets crowded near dinnertime, with a wait of 10-15 minutes. I recommend Ropa Vieja, a shredded beef dish, with a side order of Moros y Cristianos (rice and beans) and the alcoholic beverage Sangria, freshly made everyday.
Price: $/$
(310) 289-0392
1415 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035
El Salvador:
La Casita de Don Carlos
, is the place to go to enjoy authentic Salvadorian food. They are known for their pupusas and Salvadorian memorabilia. The restaurant décor brings you to Central America and flat screens inside are always showing novelas or soccer games. The food is very affordable and can be enjoyed with a beer of your choice.
Price: $
(213) 387-7748
2046 West Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90006
Empanada’s Place is known for their Argentine empanadas. This small eatery has an Italian flair, reflecting the influence of Argentina’s largest immigrant population. It is a cute café to eat lunch with a couple of your friends. They offer a variety of meat or vegetarian empanadas at about $2.99 each, but they are well worth it. I recommend trying the Arabé, a lemony beef combination, or the Corn, made with sweet corn and melted cheese; each will leave you wanting more.
Price: $
(310) 391-0888
3811 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90066
$: Super Chido, it’s pocket friendly
$: Comida Cómodo
$$: ¡Mira que Fancy!