Latin people can’t be codified any more than people of other ethnicities and this is particularly evident when it comes to how we identify ourselves. Hispanic? That’s old school, and to some offensive. Latino or Latina? But what about gender non-conforming folks? Latinx? Too trendy. Brown people? But what about other skin tones? You’ll get a mixed bag of reactions to each of these identifiers depending on where one came from and when one grew up. And that’s okay. We need to unify no matter how we identify. Hispanic/Latin/Latinx Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15) is about acknowledging a mostly marginalized group and its struggles, but also celebrating our contributions to culture in general. Here, we’ve gathered the best ways to do just that.
The immersive, film, art and shopping-fueled drive-in experience called Cinemauto heads off an in-car slew of entertainment coming this Fall as it seeks to spotlight community stories and help local business in Chinatown. Taking place one weekend a month on Friday & Saturday, the fiesta kicks off tonight with a celebration of Hispanic filmmakers curated by the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. Selena will be screened, plus there will be additional short films and videos, music, digital art, and food, all benefiting Homeboy Industries Art Academy and LALIFF. In addition to the screening the event features a market (online and outdoors) with involvement from BEAM, Junior High, Las Fotos Project, Food Forward and #XMAP: In Plain Sight.
“After losing clients and projects due to Covid-19, I looked around and saw very little opportunities and support for creatives, artists, restaurants, and event producers so I started thinking how I could use my experience creating meaningful digital, social, and experiential marketing campaigns and working within those industries to support and celebrate the local storytellers and shine a light on the men and women with small businesses that were affected by COVID-19,” says Jackie Gonzalez, the event’s founder. “There are a lot of drive-ins popping up, but this is the first event of its kind. Cinemauto brings you thoughtful, immersive drive-in screening experiences marrying community, art & culture, food, and entertainment while promoting local businesses and fostering inclusive programming celebrating diverse, underrepresented voices, and a new generation of filmmakers. We’d like for our guests to feel as though they are in the same place and space, eating the same food, smelling the same scents, etc. And, our community market serves as a place of discovery, highlighting small businesses and their products. “
“Everything we include in our programming is an ode to rebuilding Los Angeles,” Gonzalez adds, sharing that the curated experiences are designed to stimulate and activate the senses with visuals (art), sound (DJ sets), taste (food) and even scent- a planned hand-washing experience will “create a sense of calmness with greenery or florals and scent in the air.”
Look for other culturally immersive Cinemauto events from Gonzalez and her partners in October (with Katsu Sando) and November (with Steep LA). For more info see https://cinemauto.net/
Like every other film festival his year, the 12th Annual Hola México Film Festival has pivoted to a virtual event. In-partnership with Spanish-language premium streaming service Pantaya, the celebration has been highlighting Hispanic Heritage Month all this week and it concludes this weekend with some great Mexican cinema. The festival’s full schedule includes 19 films and most of them are available through Sunday. The Gael Garcia Bernal-directed Chicuarotes headlines the film list and other highlights still available to watch over the weekend include Amores Modernos (Modern Love), Asfixia (Suffocation), El Deseo de Ana (Ana’s Desire), Blanco de Verano (Summer White), Clases de Historia (History Lessons), Radio Silencio (Radio Silence), El Guardian de la Memoria (The Guardian of Memory), Disparos (Shooting) and Desde tu infierno (From Your Hell). Subscribe and screen at www.pantaya.com.
Latino Comics Expo
MOLAA has joined forces with this free online event, which can be viewed via its YouTube Channel and Facebook Page. Programming kicked off last wee, connecting Latin American comic artists, animators, writers and fans, the expo offers story-telling, panel discussions, animation showcases, design workshops, interviews and demos all for free. “Particularly in this era of stay-at-home measures, it’s important to be able to offer free programming for audiences that celebrates the rich cultural contributions of Latinx creators working in comics, book publishing, animation and many more art forms,” says Javier Hernández, the events co-founder and creative director, in press materials. Hernandez, by the way, closes out the event with an interview featuring another Hernandez: comics legend Jaime Hernandez, creator of Love & Rockets (a comic that was formative for a lot us edgier Latina Gen-Xers) on Saturday. More info http://molaa.org/latino-comics-expo-2020.
En Casa con LA Plaza Events
Ever since the pandemic hit, LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes has offered some of the best online programming on the web, and its En Casa con LA Plaza virtual series is no exception this month, with conversations, presentations, demonstrations, and performances for our community and for all. The upcoming schedule includes a Polvorones Tricolor baking demonstration with Eliceo Lara (we’ve always wanted to know how to make pan dulce and now’s our chance!), a Mexican-American history discussion with Armando Durón and Julio Vallejo, an intimate walkthrough of the exhibit Carlos Almaraz: Evolution of Form with artist Elsa Flores Almaraz, and a performance by the Quetzal Family Trio. Sessions are archived at lapca.org.
Converse’s “¡Mi Gente! By You”
Launching “¡Mi Gente! By You” customizable sneakers to celebrate Latin culture and pride this month, Converse has tapped artists including Chicago’s Sentrock and Los Angeles’ own Ruth Mora to create designs that reflect the “LatinX” experience. Mora’s kicks are must-have’s for Angelenos, tapping into her passions and influences, from graffiti and murals to nostalgic imagery of familia and food. As she shared in press materials, “Mi Gente for me starts first at home. That’s the first thing that comes to my mind, I feel at home with not just my family, but I feel like Mi Gente, is people that make you feel warm and at home regardless of whether you know them or not. So, I really like that sense of togetherness that our culture has.”
While other companies performatively align themselves with Latin culture to profit from it, Converse seeks to give back, supporting youth movements for positive social change in a way that actually represents us. (Chucks, particularly white low-tops, have always been a style staple in our communities).
The Converse Diversity Network -an employee resource group within the company is reportedly involved in every aspect of this project including design, marketing and civic support including mural creation in Mexico, Peru, Chile and Brazil as well as involvement with the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory (BHAC) advocating for diversity in the creative arts, media, and technology; Homeboy Industries’ gang rehabilitation and work re-entry programs for previously incarcerated men and women; and Las Fotos Project’s photography mentorship for young Latinas. More at https://www.converse.com/c/mi-gente
Gathering for El Grito
Though it aired live on Sept. 15, you can still watch, enjoy and support the City of Los Angeles and Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez’s ¡El Grito! telethon, which raised funds for Angelenos hardest hit by COVID-19. While the event usually gathers people on the steps of City Hall, it went virtual this year featuring a music lineup including Los Tucanes de Tijuana, La Santa Cecilia, Ozomatli, El Conjunto Nueva Ola (ECNO), La Victoria, Weapons of Mass Creation, San Cha, DJ Angie Vee, Las Joyas Divinas Del Valle, Mariachi Lluvia Y Fuego, and Banda. The pandemic disproportionately affected Latinos, so help is still needed. Funds raised go to the L.A. based organization CIELO- providing economic relief for our undocumented Angelenos. Watch at ElGrito2020.com and support if you can.
Palabra Panels and More
The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ)’s bilingual multimedia platform called Palabra (which means “word”) amplifies #HHM20- as they’ve hashtagged the month, with panel discussions, one on one chats with experts, and social media takeovers on topics that are important to the community. One year since the anniversary of its launch, NAHJ freelancers have sought to “proactively reclaim our narrative as Latinos” and the planned programming seeks to push its mission forward. Go to https://nahj.org/2020/08/18/palabra-website/ to see what they have planned each week, now through Oct 15.
The Latinx Arts Alliance
A collective created to advance and support Latin artists in LA, The Latinx Arts Alliance -which just launched last week, gathers important local cultural institutions such as LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, the Museum of Latin American Art (MOLAA), Self Help Graphics & Art, Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), and the Vincent Price Art Museum to amplify and celebrate for the month and beyond.
Check out MOLAA’s very full calendar of events (including an at home version of the museum’s popular Dia de los muertos programs and exhibits this Sat.) and permanent collections (such as the work pictured here) at https://molaa.org/. Also save the date (Oct. 1st) for “Driven” at the Hollywood Palladium, a project with The Art of Elysium showcasing work by emerging and established local Latin artists and guided by an audio overlay track played directly into cars.
Banding together during this historic moment of racial reckoning makes this alliance not only more powerful but also more effective. Expect more “collaborative initiatives championing a more equitable representation of Latinx art and artists in the public and private realms and advocating for Latinx art integration in major civic and cultural events.” More info at http://www.latinxartsalliance.org/
Amplifying Latinas on The TRENDtalk
We got to know Bel Hernandez when we were a featured speaker at Latinafest last year, and since then we’ve becomes a fan of her output, all of which seeks to promote Latina talents in Los Angeles and beyond. Her TV show TheTRENDTalk (with co-host Marabina Jaimes) premieres its season 4 slate on the MeTV Network just in time for Hispanic Heritage Month. Learn more here.
Verizon Latino Pays Tribute
Verizon Latino -a designated section within the Apple Music platform- debuts this month, featuring curated playlists, videos, and content from Latin artists. Updated regularly, the platform will also offer access to live-streaming radio stations highlighting Latin music and an alliance with Univision on the Uforia Music Series. An exclusive livestream concert broadcast this Sunday, Sept. 20, features Bad Bunny. Watch on UforiaMusic.com, Bad Bunny’s YouTube, as well as @UforiaMusic on Twitter and Twitch.
Verizon is also mobilizing other media brands to help celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with more livestream events and programming in conjunction with Yahoo, that will explore “the issues facing Hispanic voters, highlight Hispanic leaders and influencers, and delve into life as a Latinx person in the United States.”
The Paley Center for Media has also partnered with the company, creating a slate of “Impact Programs” focused on diversity and inclusion running through October 15, and including Paley’s launch of the exhibit, A Tribute to Hispanic Achievements in Television, celebrating contributions of the Hispanic community on TV, hosted by Natalie Morales. More on all this at www.verizon.com/about/news/.
Our Voices Matter to Telemundo
With its multi-platform campaign called “Nuestras Voces Cuentan” (Our Voices Matter), Telemundo aims to support local non-profits and aid Latinos affected by the pandemic. The month-long initiative showcases art representing the power of the community and encouraging “Latinos to engage in the upcoming 2020 election, while honoring family values and Latino culture, as well as the accomplishments of women, health professionals, athletes, farm workers and young entrepreneurs, among others.”
Using the hashtag #NuestrasVocesCuentan and #UsaTuVoz, Telemundo is asking the Latin community to share conversations about cultural identity and more. They’ll also be donating $10,000 each to three non-profit organizations in three cities. CIELO (Comunidades Indigenas en Liderazgo) is the charitable group in L.A. and it supports undocumented indigenous people in the service industry.
Telemundo is also featuring artists and journalists with in-show segments across the network reporting on the many contributions of Hispanics in the U.S. and it’s launching From Me to Me, a new weekly show on Latinx Now! (its bilingual entertainment source) featuring Latin personalities answering questions and sharing their personal journeys. Learn more at https://www.elpoderenti.com/
Peacock’s True Colors
Peacock, NBCUniversal’s new streaming service, will premiere its first original Latin-driven documentary series True Colors for Heritage month, sharing the stories of Hispanic trailblazers and thought leaders in politics, entertainment and more. Subjects include Alex Rodríguez, John Leguizamo, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mario Lopez, Ellen Ochoa, Laurie Hernandez, and Lele Pons. Developed in partnership with Telemundo and presented in English, the show aims to capture and celebrate the richness and beauty of Hispanic culture. Also, check out the networks slew of Spanish-language entertainment here.
Y Tu Tubi?
As we wrote about back in April, Tubi has become one of our favorite free streaming destinations, and their celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month should keep us tuning in. Just last week, the channel launched Tubi en Español, a dedicated Spanish-language destination offering more than 1,000 titles.
Some cool stuff to look out for: Alejandro González Iñárritu’s classic Amores Perros (pictured), Sundance winner La Nana, Cannes winner Viva Cuba, Oscar-nominated foreign film Biutiful starring Javier Bardem, Ma Ma starring Penélope Cruz, Midaq Alley starring Salma Hayek, seasons 1-4 of Enchufe.tv– an Ecuadorian sketch comedy show and Juana La Virgen, the telenovela that inspired CW’s Jane the Virgin. https://tubitv.com/
Calle Ocho Online
Mark your calendars for Oct. 4th, when Gloria Estefan, Camilo and Jessi Uribe Join come together to perform for Calle Ocho Live, a virtual Festival in Miami benefiting The Kiwanis of Little Havana- a non-profit organization of volunteers dedicated to helping under-served Latin families with youth development programs, college scholarships, back to school assistance, and emergency financial assistance during the Covid-19 crisis. Also sure to be fuego: Ivy Queen performing a virtual duet with the late Celia Cruz and Tito Puente, Jr. performing a virtual duet with his late father Tito Puente.
In addition to the music, the interactive three-hour livestream event will also feature comedians, chefs, social media influencers and celebrities, and offer audiences at home ways to engage and opportunities to win prizes and be seen online. In between live and pre-recorded performances, the show will also highlight personal stories from the families helped by the organization.
The online show is free, but asks viewers to donate $8 or more ahead of or during the fest at https://calleocholive.com/
HBO debuts a biggie during National Hispanic Heritage Month highlighting the life of an important but somewhat little known pioneering activist— Luis A. Miranda Jr.. A fighter for Latino communities in New York and Washington, DC. he is also the father of Hamilton‘s Lin-Manuel Miranda. Siempre Luis, which had its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, documents Miranda Jr.’s Puerto Rican childhood and young adult life in 1970s New York City, to more recent times when, following Puerto Rico’s devastation due to hurricanes Irma and Maria, he coordinated relief efforts and raised money, while also bringing his son’s award-winning production to the island. The film covers his time in the 1980’s as special advisor for Hispanic Affairs to Mayor Edward I. Koch, and the 1990s, when he founded the Hispanic Federation and became one of New York’s leading voices for increased support of the Latin community. Debuts Tues., Oct. 6 on HBO and to stream on HBO Max.