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The 12th Annual Watsonville Film Festival
EventsGrantee SpotlightWatsonville ArtsPress
onMarch 5, 2024

More than films: showcasing Lowrider culture at Pajaro Valley Arts

The 2024 Watsonville Film Festival will present a powerful and diverse selection of short films directed by local, national, and international filmmakers. In addition, this year’s Festival will shine a light on local culture with an exciting art exhibit and car show. Watsonville’s vibrant art scene is expanding and becoming more connected. “More Than Cars: Celebrating Lowrider Culture” is a result of the 12-year-old Watsonville Film Festival partnering with Pajaro Valley Arts which is now celebrating its 40th anniversary.

“More than 50 artists and Lowrider club members have attended a series of planning meetings for the exhibit. I’ve never seen this kind of enthusiasm!” says Judy Stabile, Board Treasurer of Pajaro Valley Arts. “PVA is excited to showcase the Lowriders' creativity and history in a way that honors their contributions.”

Members of five local car clubs actively participated by designing their own displays: the Watsonville Riders, Classic Memories, Family First, the Watsonville Impalas, and Killer Klowns, along with a group of women Lowriders. The exhibit features a variety of media, including photography, painting, mixed media, and sculpture, including works by printmaker Juan Fuentes, muralist Guillermo “Yermo” Aranda, and photographer/graphic artist Tyrone “Malow” Diaz.

Everyone is invited to the Opening Reception which will feature live music, a car show and a City Proclamation recognizing the Lowriders’ service to the community on Sunday, March 10, from 1 to 4 pm at the Pajaro Valley Arts Porter Building, located at 280 Main Street. The free exhibit runs through June 30 with public events, including video screenings, panel discussions, art activities for youth, and additional car shows.

Highly respected, the Watsonville Film Festival received one of 14 California Humanities grants to highlight how Lowrider culture symbolizes pride and ingenuity that brings generations of families and the community together. As part of the grant, a collection of Lowrider oral histories is being preserved in a digital archive through a partnership with Cal State Monterey Bay under the direction of Dr. Kristen LaFollette.

“This grant comes at a great time in history,” says Consuelo Alba, Director of the Watsonville Film Festival. “As of January 1, 2024, cruising is no longer a crime in California, thanks to intensive lobbying from Lowriders. Now, like the rest of the world, we can see Lowrider culture for what it is: art on wheels.”

WFF Humanities Advisor, Dr. Alberto Lopez Pulido, a renowned Lowrider scholar and filmmaker from the University of San Diego, will bring the “Barrio Bus,” a mural-covered classroom on wheels from San Diego to participate in the festivities and visit schools to promote art activities and what Professor Pulido calls, “Chicano ingenuity” inspired by Lowriders.

“With the Film Festival and the Lowrider Exhibit, we are reclaiming our stories and our culture, highlighting the lived experiences of Latinos in the US, portraying ourselves in more authentic ways than the mainstream media has historically depicted us,” says WFF Director and independent filmmaker Consuelo Alba. “This year we will honor the resilience and creativity of Lowrider culture and the powerful, often unheard, voices of Latine filmmakers.”

The Watsonville Film Festival opens March 7th at 6 pm with a celebration of local and Bay Area filmmakers, such directors Gabriel Medina, Eugenia Renteria and Carlos Campos. Friday, March 8th, celebrates International Women’s Day with screenings at 5 and 7 pm with The Latina Book Club, written by Josefina Lopez of Real Women Have Curves fame.

Saturday, March 9th features a free screening of local student shorts at 11:30 am, followed by “Our Stories” at 1 pm featuring “The Unbroken Sky” based on University of Santa Clara distinguished professor Francisco Jimenez’s memoir. “Reality Tour Shorts” screens at 3:30 pm with the film “Shura: The Trail is Never Paved” about Border humanitarian Shura Wallin who will be in attendance.

The featured film, La Mission, will be shown at 6 pm. Film screenings will be held at CineLux Green Valley Theater, 1125 S Green Valley Rd, along with a Red Carpet to take photos. The films will be available online March 11-17.