Watsonville Film Festival celebrates 10th anniversary with expanded hybrid program

The Watsonville Film Festival (WFF) will come full circle as it celebrates its 10th anniversary with a special in-person event at the Mello Center for the Performing Arts, where it all began in 2012. The Festival will also feature a program of virtual films exceptional free of charge, from March 11 to 20. The Cine Se Puede Fellowship 2022, which provides support and mentorship to local emerging filmmakers, will also be a featured activity at the festival.

“We are thrilled and proud to celebrate a decade of storytelling and art from the Latinx community in front of and behind the camera. This year, we bring you an incredibly powerful selection of films, most of them directed by women. We will also honor Josefina Lopez, a trailblazing Latina and Los Angeles-based playwright and screenwriter.

— Consuelo Alba, Watsonville Film Festival Director

Under the theme 10 years of cultivating community through film, the WFF will present a virtual program featuring more than 30 award-winning, local and student films from March 11-20 via its streaming channel at watsonvillefilmfest.org.

This year’s films shine a light on Latinx art, activism, resistance and community. Highlights include the Oscar nominee The Mole Agent by director Maité Alberdi; two-time Sundance winner Identifying features by director Fernanda Valadezand nominated for the Mexican Ariel Award Things we dare notyou Do by director Bruno Santamaría.

The Festival is collaborating for the first time with POV, the award-winning independent non-fiction film series on PBS, presenting seven documentary films, including fruits of labor, a documentary by director Emily Cohen Ibañez about the life, dreams and challenges of a teenage girl and her family in Watsonville.

Read on to find out more about the extensive list of amazing short films shown at this year’s festival.


Aguilas / Eagles

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan & Maite Zubiaurre

Along the scorching Arizona desert frontier, it is estimated that only one in five missing migrants are found. Águilas is the story of a group of researchers, the Águilas del Desierto. In these hostile and treacherous lands, every bone has a story. Presented in conjunction with POV, PBS’ award-winning non-fiction film series.

Watsonville Film Festival

Lupita: Retiemble la tierra


(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by Monica Wise Robles

In a country where indigenous people are increasingly displaced, their lands stolen, students disappear without a trace after police arrests and journalists are murdered at an alarming rate, a brave new voice is emerging. Lupita, a survivor of the Tzotzil Maya massacre, is at the forefront of a new indigenous women’s movement.

Watsonville Film Festival

Love in Cuarentena

love in cuarentena

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by Eugenia Renteria

During the pandemic, Emi feels stuck in a box, and out of boredom or desperation, she starts looking for love…virtually. What can go wrong?



(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by Marcus Cisneros | Produced by Gabriel J. Medina

After fleeing a civil war in Mexico, two undocumented workers find work during a global pandemic in the United States, only to find they’ve been lured into a frightening situation.

Watsonville Film Festival

Death and Deathability (A period piece)

death and mortality

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by Maria Victoria Ponce

Mystified by the unexpected arrival of her first period, Ceci (Blanca Ordaz) concludes that she must be dying. She prepares a bucket list to accomplish on her last day, including her first real kiss and her own funeral, because death should be an art.

Dial the reception

dial the house number

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by Cesar Martinez Barba

Within the walls of a Tijuana call center, a sense of being in limbo permeates. Homesickness floods the phone line as expelled US call center staff engage in conversations across the US-Mexico border.



(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by Rodrigo Reyes | Directed by Andrew Houchens

Separated by years of immigration policy, a young girl dreams of meeting her grandmother for the first time. With binational cooperation from governments on both sides of the US-Mexico border, her grandmother embarks on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to find her undocumented loved ones.

Watsonville Film Festival

First time at home

first time at home

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Co-directed by Heriberto Ventura, Noemi Librado Sanchez, Esmirna Librado & Esmeralda Ventura

When they learn that their grandfather is ill, four cousins ​​travel for the first time from their native immigrant community Triqui in California to their ancestral village in Mexico. The teenagers record videos to share with their family members, who are farm workers in the United States. Through a mix of Spanish, Triqui and English, they get to know their grandparents, aunts and uncles. The group of cousins ​​forges a bond over thousands of miles, with a newfound pride in their indigenous identity.

Guardian of the Fire: Alejandro Murguía

fire keeper

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by David L. Brown and Louis F. Dematteis

Following the life and work of San Francisco activist, author and poet laureate Alejandro Murguia, Keeper of the fire explores the roles this outspoken poet played in the fight for a more just and equitable world.

The Pearl of the Pacifico

the pearl of the pacific

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by Carlos Campos

Gambino and Anna decided to start a restaurant that would support their family; little was known about the impact this would have on the small rural community of Watsonville.

Oda a los Frijoles

oda a los frijoles

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Co-created by Karolina Esqueda & Brenda Avila-Hanna

A literary and visual interpretation of beans, Oda a los Frijoles fuses a cooking recipe with archival footage of immigrants and field workers, creating a parallel between tradition and immigration.

painter of dreams

painter of dreams

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by Gabriel J. Medina

A short documentary about artist Guillermo “Yermo” Aranda and his efforts to repaint his iconic “Dreams” mural at Watsonville High School after it was covered. Named Artist of the Year 2022 in Santa Cruz, Aranda creates his murals through an inclusive community process of mentoring young children and adults who want to learn and help with painting. Aranda’s murals act as a mirror and a vibrant visual archive of collective dreams and memories, reminding us of where we are and where we have been.

Watsonville Film Festival

Towards the future with love

towards the future with love

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by Shaleece Haas

Hunter “Pixel” Jiménez is a non-binary teenager caught between the expectations of his Guatemalan immigrant family and his dreams of living happily ever after with his long-distance boyfriend.

Tony’s Cakes

tony's cakes

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by Tony Holman & Vida de Kayla

A man with a troubled past finds redemption by building his own bakery in East Bay.

Watsonville Film Festival

25 Texans in Lincoln Country

25 texans

(Watsonville Film Festival)

Directed by Ellen Brodsky

Join the quest with 25 intrepid history students – mostly Mexican Americans – who travel 2,000 miles from the Alamo in Texas to a museum in Springfield, Illinois. Their mission? Ask to repatriate General Santa Anna’s prosthetic leg to Mexico and honor Abraham Lincoln with a Day of the Dead altar. With humour, humility and animation, the film raises questions of identity, borders, museum ethics and collective memory.

Watsonville Film Festival

In addition to various short films by local students

new generation shorts

(Watsonville Film Festival)

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