August 28, 2019

In its fifth year, The Panamanian International Film Festival in Los Angeles (PIFF/LA) brings PANAFEST 2019, a celebration of cinema, culture and community, to  The Downtown Independent Theater Los Angeles on October 18, 19, and 20.

PIFF/LA’s non-traditional approach to PANAFEST is reflected in our initial slate of dynamic features and feature-length docs. “The Latino community is under attack and the creative community is striking back against stereotypes and marginalization,” said Carlos Carrasco, PIFF/LA’s Artistic Director. “PANAFEST 2019 will share the work of a vibrant group of innovative storytellers whose fresh voices and perspectives illuminate things that matter to us all.”

Inspiring themes like immigration, profiling, diversity, and identity are brought to life in new ways in films that range from heartwarming comedy, to a technologically sophisticated thriller, to a horror film based on a Panamanian folk tale. They include:

Edgar Soberón Torchia’s  Panama Radio , a US premiere, is an award-winning documentary. It is the story of a Panama City record store run by women. Its focus on music and the 60’s and 70’s social scene is not just a trip down memory lane but a celebration of groundbreaking musicians and moments of importance to Panama and far beyond.

Turnover,  an Audience Award and Best Family Film winner at the Idyllwild Film Festival, brings together a diverse cast and shines a light on the power of that diversity. Starring  CSI ’s Paul Guilfoyle and co-starring Festival Director Carlos Carrasco,  Turnover is directed by multiple-award-winner Linda Palmer Cardone and features  American Horror Story actress Jamie Brewer, also known for her advocacy in support of actors with Down Syndrome as well as Hollywood veterans Donna Mills and Beverly Todd.

Paul Guilfoyle, Julia Silverman and Carlos Carrasco on “Turnover”, directed by Linda Palmer Cardone.

A U.S. Premiere,  El Diablo Rojo , is Panama’s first official horror feature. Named for Panama’s vibrant painted buses, El Diablo Rojo takes audiences on a nail biting ride by putting a modern spin on the story of  La Tulivieja,  Panama’s equivalent to La Llorona.

“Inspired by today’s news,” is the opening title on the film  Intolerance No More.  Emmy Award winner Sergio Guerrero Garzafox (A Day Without A Mexican) has directed a thriller that leverages the power of new media and technology to comment on police brutality, profiling, privacy, and other themes of our hyper-connected yet hyper-divided times.

The immigrant journey is captured in Andrea Victoria Calderon’s powerful Panamanian documentary Darien Vienen O Van , winner of the Festival de Cine Pobre de Panalandia for best documentary and production. PIFF/LA’s alliance with several independent film festivals in Panama has created a bridge between both creative communities and facilitated an exchange of select films to share with audiences in both countries.

“Darién Vienen O Van”, directed by Andrea Victoria Calderón.

The closing night film on Sunday, October 20t h is also a documentary.  Our Quinceañera , directed by Fanny Veliz Grande. This heartwarming story of Gilbert Galvan, principal for San Benito Veterans Memorial Academy, follows his mission to make sure every girl who wants a Quince has one. The documentary won the Audience Award at the prestigious Bentonville Film Festival, co-founded by Geena Davis.

“Our Quinceañera” directed by Fanny Veliz Grande

A new addition to PANAFEST 2019 is a prestigious judging panel. They join Carrasco who has been curating content along with De Zan Hatch, and Yaniv Waisman, founder of Los Cortos. Waisman returns to PANAFEST 2019 with an exciting display of 360 VR technology, sponsored by Samsung. This allows audience members to appreciate the work of filmmakers who are engaged in this innovative technique for dimensional storytelling.

The  judging panel includes Juan Escobedo, Juan Agustin Marquez, Angela Ortiz and Sabrina Precario. In addition to official award categories, PANAFEST is known for its innovative recognitions which have included the Yucca, Platano and Gandules Awards for noteworthy filmmaking elements.

“Celebrating our 5t  h year is a major milestone,” said Carrasco. “Our approach to networking, education, and engaging filmmakers and film audiences, is more important than ever as our stories – all of our stories – are too vibrant not to be told. False narratives have defined our community for far too long. Together, we can bring new voices to new heights.” Carrasco, who is best known for his work as an actor as Popeye in Blood In Blood Out and Gigantor in Speed, created the Panama International Film Festival in Los Angeles (PIFF/LA) in 2014. Its evolution into PANAFEST, a multi-disciplinary celebration, is a salute to the pan-Latino nature of a diverse community. PIFF/LA is produced in partnership with Los Cortos and New Filmmakers Los Angeles.





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