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!

2010 Paid Dues Music Festival

The annual Paid Dues music festival, now in its 5th year, is one of the most prominent hip-hop festivals in the United States. Similar to Rock the Bells, Paid Dues is a day-long music event, featuring both independent and mainstream hip-hop artists. This year’s headliners were Ice Cube, Murs & 9th Wonder, Tech N9ne, and Raekwon of the Wu-Tang Clan. Artists performed at two different stages, the Paid Dues stage (indoor) and the Dues Paid stage (outdoor).

The indoor stage featured the more established artists, while the outdoor stage featured independent artists. The first few acts in the outdoor stage ranged from female emcee Hopie Spitshard to the group Potluck, the self-described “stoners from Humboldt.” There were also giveaways from this stage, as well as freestyle battles from audience members. Later in the night, Ice Cube’s cousin Del tha Funky Homosapien and the L.A. collective Freestyle Fellowship headlined the Dues Paid stage.

In the indoor stage, Sick Jacken and Cynic performed the energetic show Psycho Realm is known for, inducing mosh pits in the crowd. Followed Psycho Realm was Dilated Peoples, another L.A. based underground hip-hop group with growing mainstream success. Performing for a packed indoor stage as weed smoke filled the air, Raekwon performed both his solo material and material from the Wu-Tang Clan, while also paying his respect to the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Gangsta rap was well represented with Tha Dogg Pound (Daz Dillinger & Kurupt), along with the headliner Ice Cube. Murs was a present throughout the festival, and his set included “L.A.,” songs from the 3:16 project with 9th Wonder, and a song that brought Sick Jacken out to the stage once again. Ice Cube energized the crowd with some of his classics including “It Was a Good Day” and “Check Yourself,” as well as debuting a new song from his upcoming album.

Overall, it was a great festival, the only problems were that some of the set times got changed around last minute, and having two stages meant not being able to listen to everybody. Other than that, Paid Dues showed how, for a day, an empty field in San Bernardino could transform into a showcase of some of the best hip-hop L.A. has to offer.

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Word of the Week:ozomahtli

Pronounciation:IPA: /osomaʔtɬi/

Language: Nahuatl

English Translation: monkey

You may have heard of Ozomatli, the alternative/Latin band whose hits include “Cut Chemist Suite” or “Saturday Night,” but did you know their name derives from the Nahuatl word for monkey? Ozomahtli is the 11th daysign of the Aztec Borgia Codex, a manuscript that served as a 260 ritual calendar of sorts as well as used by religious figures made of beautiful painted animal skins. The monkey represents art, music and harmony – a perfect fit for the musical band.

Reviving the World of Ballet

Lorna Feijoo

by Raquel Nieves

Classical ballet originated in European courts and for many years was dominated by European countries. Europeans introduced ballet to the states at the turn of the century, and up until the 1980s most ballet stars in America were either from the Soviet Union or England. Today, Latin American dancers are reviving the art of ballet all over the country as it takes on a new demographic and brings in new audiences.

Major ballet companies in the US such as American Ballet Theater, Boston Ballet and San Francisco Ballet found success with the help of Latino dancers. At American Ballet Theater, the United States’ most prestigious ballet company, seven of its 17 principal dancers are Latin American.

Strong ballet training is a key aspect of the growing participation of Latinos in classical ballet. For example, Escuela Superior de Ballet, of Guadalajara Mexico, is responsible for more than a third of the winners in American ballet competitions such as the International Ballet Competition and Youth American Grand Prix.

Cuban ballet schools also find success because of the country’s rich history in ballet. Cuban ballet legend, Alicia Alonso created the Cuban National Ballet in 1948 and also was a co-founder of The American Ballet Theater in 1940. In addition, ballet has been government sponsored in Cuba after Fidel Castro underwrote a network of state-sponsored ballet academies that are still going strong.

Sisters Lorena and Lorna Feijoo trained with Alonso’s Cuban National Ballet. After immigrating to the US, Lorena is now principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet and Lorna, a principal with Boston Ballet. Both Feijoos have danced every lead female role in ballet’s repertoire and have also performed contemporary works by choreographers such as George Balanchine, William Forsythe, and Cristopher Wheeldon.

Latin American dancers are extremely talented and bring an amazing caliber and style to the art of ballet. Jose Manuel Carreno, a Cuban principal dancer with American Ballet Theater, seems to jump seven feet in the air with absolutely no effort. His upper body remains fluid and elegant, as he performs impossibly fast footwork and busts out nine flawless pirouettes.

And all aspiring ballerinas can look up to another Cuban dancer, Xiomara Reyes. Reyes, a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theater, has a dance quality unlike any other ballerina on stage. Every step, from a simple plié to the most intricate turn combination, is delivered with complete intent and passion. Reyes trained with The Cuban National Ballet School and has danced with top ballet companies across the world such as Royal Ballet London.

Company after company hires dancers from Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean who quickly scale the ranks from corps de ballet to principal dancers. This influx attracts the press back to ballet, bringing Latino interest and encouraging young Latinos to pick up ballet.  Ballet rehearsals all over the country are becoming bilingual, as Latinos continue to be the up and coming force in American ballet.

Previously printed Fall 09

Nortec Collective: Revitalizing Musical Art

By Violeta Lerma

Since La Gente newsmagazine printed a review of Nortec Collective’s “Tijuana Sessions Vol. 3” in spring of 2006, the group has entered into new territory receiving the 2009 Grammy nominations for Best Alternative Album and Best Recording Package. The five-member group has since become four and has has opted to split their act into smaller collaborations instead of performing together. Here is a quick recap.

Nortec, the musical style, blends electronic beats with the rhythms of Mexican norteño, banda, and tambora music. The name is a combination of norte, referring to northern Mexico (not norteño, as commonly thought) and techno. Nortec music exploded onto the Tijuana underground music scene in 1999 after Ramón Amezcua, under the stage name Bostich, digitally processed a sampler of drum, tuba, and accordion recordings to produce the dance hit “Polris.”

Fellow music producers creating more tracks that Bostich, Fussible (Pepe Mogt) and producer Melo Ruiz compiled into “The Nor-tec Sampler.” Thus Nortec Collective was born. However, there is more to Nortec Collective than innovative music; at its heart is the spirit of collaboration. “With the Collective, we invited a bunch musicians and artists to collaborate,” Mogt said in an interview with Guanabee.com. “We created Nortec to be part of an aesthetic, not only the music, but graphic design, as well.”

Colectivo Visual (Visual Collective), a group of designers and video performances artists, take care of the visuals of Nortec’s live shows as a compliment to the music. The resulting aesthetic is an amalgamation of graphic design, animation, short films, creative lighting and of course, Nortec music.

Undoubtedly, Nortec Collective’s productions require elaborate technology. “Nortec has always been creating music based on the technologies available,” Bostich said in an interview with La Gente. They use technology such as the Tenori-on, a handheld interface that programs musical notes into LED switches,a fruitful decision, for in 2008, they received yet another Grammy nomination for the album “Tijuana Sound Machine by Nortec Collective Presents: Bostich and Fussible” (Nacional Records).

While electronic beats are standard for each song, Nortec Collective “essentially will always be an instrumental Norteño-Electronic collaboration, ” Bostich said to La Gente. “If we were to mix in Mariachi, for example, our music would seem fake. Although our music will always be electronic, we will continue to use live instruments to bring about the Tijuana soundtrack that has been our lives.”

Previously printed Winter 2009

El Vuh

El Vuh, comprised of Victor E, E-rise, and Zero, is an independent hip-hop group based in Los Angeles, California.  Their sophomore release, “Elvuhlution,” brings illuminating rhymes based on the philosophy of the Mexica and Maya people prior the Conquest. Named after the post-classic Mayan “Book of the Community,” thePopol Vuh, El Vuh, believes in passing history and knowledge to future generations through their music, releasing wisdom and consciousness that is rarely heard in mainstream hip-hop music today.

El Vuh uses hip-hop to inspire and educate while challenging us to live up to our responsibilities to family and community. Combining English, Spanish, and Nahualt, their powerful music reminds us that the culture and history of Chicanos goes beyond the hostile takeover of Mexican lands and the imposition of foreign languages like English or Spanish.Nahualt words and concepts remind today’s generation of a philosophy that dates back centuries, and of traditions that need to preserved.

For example, in “Red Road Warriors,” El Vuh urges us to “stay moving, like ollin, flowing. My soul sings with life and light, which sol brings. I know things ain’t right throughout these countries: corrupted officials killing young seeds. But we, the people, outnumber their guns.” Additionally, the track encourages a shift from “street pandilleros” to “eagle guerreros”—as a denouncement of gang violence—while also urging us to retain our language and customs, declaring that our lengua “is the gold and that the Spanish never stole.” style=”margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; “>

In “Native Sisters,” El Vuh pays tribute to the women in our community, expressing respect while apologizing for prior transgressions. The song is particularly extended to las madres solteras and the guerrilleras who persevere and struggle for wellbeing of their family.

Armed with the triumphs, accomplishments, and crimes that surround the centuries, El Vuh lays out what we all should know. Are you listening?

For more information, and to watch the video codex, visit www.elvuh.com and myspace.com/elvuh.