OC Film Fiesta strives to entertain and inspire action

In these trying and politically charged times, a local, largely Latino-themed film festival aims to achieve something that could almost be considered unusual — it wants people to have fun.

The eighth annual OC Film Fiesta starts Oct. 6 with the Orange County premiere of the documentary “Chavela” and continues on weekends through Oct. 15.

A number of unique screenings, workshops, special guests and entertaining events are in the works.

“Mainly we want people to have fun, to have a good time,” said Victor Payan, director of the OC Film Fiesta and of Media Arts Santa Ana, the organization behind the film fest. “We also want to introduce people to great spaces, such as the Heritage Museum of Orange County and MainPlace Mall, where a lot of the films are screening. We want people to celebrate and leave feeling inspired.”

The films and events on tap are not without political motivations or underpinnings themselves.

“If you look at the historical and cultural record, the contributions to this country — culturally, economically and socially — of the immigrant communities, the Latino communities is undeniable,” Payan said. “It’s also remarkable how strong the effort is to erase them. We need to understand them ourselves, to really defend the reality of our situation.”

Here’s a look at some of the films that are part of this year’s OC Film Fiesta:

“Chavela” (8 p.m. Oct. 6) is about lesbian Latin American singer Chavela Vargas, who was an intimate friend of Frida Kahlo and also sang at Elizabeth Taylor’s wedding in 1957. Acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar also cited her as an inspiration, using her music in multiple movies and giving her roles in “La Flor de Mi Secreto” and other flicks.

• The short-film version of “A Day without a Mexican,” originally released in 1998, will play at 11:45 a.m. Oct. 7 at MainPlace Mall. Director Sergio Arau and…

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