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All good things must come to an end and this weekend the San Diego Latino Film Festival is going out in style. Not only are there still dozens of films to see and numerous guests to meet, this year marks the first where the San Diego Film Critics Society actively became involved.

Several members of the group will be on hand Saturday and Sunday night to introduce two selections that, in our estimation, rank among the best the fest has to offer. Five of us (Diana Saenger, Jeri Jacquin, Brian Lafferty, Yazdi Pithavala, and this reporter) were given 3 screeners with instructions to view and pick one that the group would most like to represent.

Oddly enough, the three narrative films all dealt with the topic of missing persons. Thank heavens none of us bought into La Playa DC, a well-intentioned drama about an Afro-Colombian teenager searching for his younger brother. Writer, director, and Cannes favorite Juan Andrés Arango Garcia captures most of the action by following his characters from behind with a camera. It's Gus Van Sant-lite, minus the gay subtext.


A man who places career ahead of family is forced to reevaluate his life when his son disappears. The story has been filmed countless times, but Luciano Moura's Father's Chair retells it in a manner that's both fresh and guaranteed to hook an audience. As the father, Wagner Moura (Elite Squad 1 & 2) brings an intensity that refuses to allow things slide in the direction of sentimentality.

An elderly woman desperately combs the streets of Guadalajara in search of her adult son. Kenya Marquez's Fecha de Caducidad (Expiration Date) is being billed as a dramatic thriller, but you couldn't prove it by me. Any filmmaker who paints a set Campbell's Tomato Soup red to match the color of the lead character's first, middle, and last suppers, automatically brings a smile to my face.

I'll have the opportunity to tell you why I enjoy this stylish black comedy in person tomorrow night when I introduce the 5pm screening of Fecha de Caducidad. After the show Brian and Yazdi will take to the stage for a Q&A. Sunday's 7pm showing of Father's Chair will be introed by Ms. Jacquin and followed by a post show meet and greet in the lobby.

Both screenings will be held at Digiplex Mission Valley. Click for more information. Hope to see you there!

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