The idea behind the Ambulante Film Festival is right in it’s name, taken from the Spanish word for ambulatory. The itinerant documentary film festival holds free screenings in dozens of community locations –including many outdoor venues– and for the second annual edition of Ambulante California, those include new and returning locations in Boyle Heights.
Ambulante California –which gets underway this weekend and continues through Oct. 4– will screen 28 documentaries in 21 venues, including stops in Northern California for the first time. All in all, organizers say they will cover 485 miles with Ambulante California.
An offshoot of the Morelia Film Festival, in Michoacán, México, Ambulante was started 10 years ago by actors Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna, along with Pablo Cruz and Elena Fortes.
The screenings are scheduled and organized through a series of alliances with local not for profit organizations. For Ambulante California director Christine Dávila, the free public screenings provide a diverse number of local communities with the unique experience of attending a film festival right in their own back yard.
“I love seeing the reaction, witnessing the unexpected pleasure of seeing screens pop up in familiar places,” Dávila said. “There is no easier way to capture their attention. That’s the power of showing in unexpected places.”
Three familiar Boyle Heights venues, including one returning location, are part of this year’s itinerary.
Opening weekend activities include a couple of screenings of “We Like It Like That”, Matthew Ramírez Warren’s documentary about the New York Latin Boogaloo scene of the 1960’s, at the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory. Both are on Sunday, Sept. 20. The first one, at 3:00 p.m., is open to all ages. The second, at 7 p.m., is for a 21 and over crowd and will be followed by a free performance of Boogaloo Assassins and various DJs (food and drinks will be on sale.)
A second Boyle Heights screening takes place on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. when Renee Tajima-Peña’s documentary “No más bebés” is shown at Legacy LA. The film tells the dramatic story of the legal fight for justice for immigrant women who were sterilized against their knowledge or consent at Los Angeles County USC Hospital during the 1960s and ‘70s. The screening location is close to the hospital and to Ramona Gardens, the public housing development were many of the women lived.
A third screening takes place at Casa del Mexicano, a returning venue administered by Ambulante partner East Los Angeles Community Corporation. There, the family-friendly documentary “El patio de mi casa” (“No Place Like Home”) by Mexican director Carlos Hagerman screens Thursday Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. It tells the story of the filmmakers parents’ efforts to bring educational opportunities to indigenous communities in rural México.
Photo above: 2014 screening of ‘Elevador’ at Casa del Mexicano in Boyle Heights. Photo by Ambulante.
Check out a full schedule for Ambulante California here.
Details on Boyle Heights screenings:
“We Like it Like That”
Sunday, Sept. 20, 3 and 7 p.m.
Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory
2708 East César Chávez Avenue
“El patio de mi casa”
Wednesday, Sept. 23, 7 p.m.
Casa del Mexicano
2900 Calle Pedro Infante
“No más bebés”
Thursday, Sept. 24 7 p.m.
1350 San Pablo Street