Ranted by Alicia Glass
Welcome to the 21st Annual San Diego Latino Film Festival, and its Opening Night Film, Espacio Interior. Or rather it would be, if I had actually gotten to see the film. Moxie will explain.
So the SDLFF is very popular round here in San Diego. Tons of people, male and female, young and old, attend the Fest as eager movie-goers. There are live Mariachi bands and solo singers who can take the paint off the walls, advertisers from all manner of Latino TV and radio stations who usually bring bright prize wheels, even Day of the Dead merchants selling t-shirts and the like with sugar skulls on them. Which is all fine, I am glad to be surrounded by your culture and ways, however…
At all larger Film Festivals I’ve gone to, there is usually an Opening Night Film and a Closing Night Film. These movies, chosen by the program directors with whatever criteria in mind, are meant to be the highlight and centerpiece of the Festival itself, right? Well. Because I am a member of the Press, I go to the Festival and get my Press pass and therefore don’t have to buy a ticket or generally stand in line for the movie I’m seeing. The opening night film, Espacio Interior, was no real exception, in the beginning. I get my pass, figure out which number movie theater it will be, and then go stand in the Rush Line to wait. The line was allowed into the theater five minutes after the film was slated to begin on the program, but that isn’t unusual for the opening night of a Festival. After that, nothing would do but for an Announcer to come in and make mention of the Festival itself and some of the highlights, attractions, and sponsors, first in Spanish and then in English. Then she had to introduce the Director and Producer of the film, who both had to speak a bit about their film too, also first in Spanish and then in English. No problem there. But then… Right as the Director and Producer of Espacio Interior finished their announcements and were about to leave so the film could begin, it was oh by the way, there will be NO English subtitles for the film.
Personally, I couldn’t believe it. Some people left the theater after that but most stayed. I chose to leave and hunt down a Program Director so I could express my displeasure. He proceeded to tell me that oh yes, there were signs denoting that there wouldn’t be any English Subtitles for the Opening Night Film (just wanted to express that again), they were located at the Box Office and at Will Call. Now, as I stated before, I don’t have to go to the Box Office and pick up tickets at these Fests, so there was no reason for me to have seen that. I did however check Will Call, and well. There was an actual sign, but it was no larger than both my hands, taped at waist height at the edge of the booth, and completely covered by the long line and crowds of people clustered around the Will Call booth. And that isn’t even the point of this entire diatribe.
These Film Festivals are supposed to be for anyone and everyone to enjoy, right? It shouldn’t matter if I don’t speak Spanish, Cubano, or any other Latino-oriented language. Even if the movie was filled with explosions a la Michael Bay and the characters each had less than five lines of actual dialogue, I still want to know what they’re saying! For a Film Festival that happens to be on it’s 21st go-around, it struck me as rather unprofessional to have the Opening Night film be something that fully a third of the audience (at least) couldn’t understand. Yes, Espacio Interior is being shown more than once, and yes, I may catch a showing. If there is one with English Subtitles.