In 1995, A La Brava Productions/Cine Sin Fin founded the first East L.A. Chicano Film Festival (now the Chicano International Film Festival). Since 1995, the film festival has screened a vast array of films – including short and full length narratives, documentaries, and avant-garde films – exposing the perspective of Chicana/o culture and capturing the diversity of Chicana/o film.
Over the years, these projects have been displayed at multiple venues throughout Los Angeles, including Self Help Graphics, the Highland Theater, the Ricardo Montalban Theater, Casa 0101 and more. This decades long tradition has continued to increase awareness and appreciation for Chicano culture across the United States, as well as internationally throughout Canada, Cuba, France, Germany and Mexico .
In the spring of 1991, three Chicano friends, Jaime Gutierrez, Eduardo and Ernesto Espinoza (Los Cuates), met at U.C. Berkeley. While at Berkeley the three started a magazine called A La Brava, which featured art, poetry and political commentary. They returned to East Los Angeles in 1995, and were joined by Jaime’s brother, Marcos Gutierrez. Together, they began volunteering at the Aztlán Cultural Arts Foundation at the old city jail in Lincoln Heights. They organized multi-media events of Chicana/o art for the foundation. During this time, they were approached by filmmakers who wanted to set up a theater in one of the rooms, seeking an opportunity to expose their projects. They had submitted their projects to numerous film festivals through the normal application process, but to no avail. The light bulb turned on! In September 1995, these four young men created Cine Sin Fin with the intention to resolve the discrimination and struggle faced by Chicana/o filmmakers.
Over the years, the festival has been blessed with the support of great celebrities such as Damian Chapa, Paul Rodriguez, Kid Frost, Jacob Vargas, and many others that have come out to validate this innovative concept and stand behind the cause. Nearly 20 years later, this annual film festival now draws the best participants and audience. It has grown to incorporate a red carpet, an award ceremony, and an art exhibit. The red carpet acknowledges the support of those who are participating in or who have endorsed the film festival. The award ceremony was created to motivate the participants to continue to generate Chicana/o films with the Firme Award, after a judging process. To acknowledge the festival’s essence, an art exhibit was incorporated as a way of honoring Cine Arte, the golden era of Mexican cinema.
During the pre-production of this year’s film festival and in recognition of the 20-year anniversary, the organization collectively decided to rebrand Cine Sin Fin to the Chicano International Film Festival (ChIFF). This establishes the film festival’s expansion nationally and internationally for years to come.