Inaugural J-Town Film Fest – Recalling the Opening Night

It’s hard to believe that we are already in the month of June in 2015. Time seems to fly by and if we blink too long, we might miss some great events in San Jose. Hopefully you didn’t miss the inaugural San Jose J-Town Film Fest. The opening night was Friday, May 29th at 7PM at the  Jacinto “Tony” Siquig Northside Community Center.

We’re lovers of film festivals here at Kooltura. It wasn’t too long ago that we were in and out of theaters catching Cinequest films. So, when we heard Japantown was holding it’s inaugural film festival as part of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and their anniversary celebration of 125 years as Japantown, we knew we had to be there.

When we arrived for the opening night film at JTS Northside Community Center, we heard that the last “at-the-door” ticket was sold. It was great to hear. The energy was high with anticipation and everywhere we turned there was a friendly volunteer face guiding us.

The scheduled film was “Delano Manongs: Forgotten Heroes of the United Farm Workers Movement” (2014) by filmmaker Marissa Aroy. If we could give a film a higher rating than two thumbs or more stars than five, then we would. Why? Well, besides the film being well made, it holds an important significance because of its relevance to San Jose, its people, and its surrounding communities.

San Jose is diverse, that’s no secret. And, chances are we are familiar with the story of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. Many of us actually have relatives or know older generations who were directly involved with the American farm labor movement in one way or another. The film “Delano Manongs” tells the often overlooked story of Larry Itliong and the Filipino farm workers whose actions played a key role in the Delano Grape Strike of 1965 and ultimately brought about the creation of the United Farm Workers Union (UFW). The film shines a spotlight on the Filipino farm workers and you’ll be sure to fall in love with Mr. Larry Itliong and his cigars.


Q&A/Discussion after the screening of Delano Manongs with Marissa Aroy, Luis Valdez, and Johnny Itliong.

As if the film wasn’t enough, the opening night also included a Q&A panel which included filmaker Marissa Aroy, noted playwright Luis Valdez, and Larry Itliong’s son Johnny Itliong. Being in that room with people who are or were connected to such a huge part of history felt like witnessing history itself. After the once in a lifetime panel discussion, we were blessed with live performances by (folklorico group name), (Q’s drumming group name), and music by Sonido Clash.

The film festival continued on Saturday and Sunday with great films like; Hibakusha” (2012), “Kumu Hina”(2014), “Skin Stories: The Art and Culture of Polynesian Tattoo” (2003)East Side Sushi” (2014)The People I’ve Slept With” (2009)Issei: The First Generation” (1984).

So, what did we take away from this inaugural J-Town Film Fest? We fell in love with it! We want this back every year. Ultimately it’s up to us to support and allow great events like this to flourish and succeed. If you were there, you know exactly what we’re talking about when we say this event is the definition of community. If you weren’t there, you won’t want to miss the next one.

If you loved this event and wish more people would know about it or wish you would’ve heard about it sooner, then make sure to head over to #iPledgeSJ to find out how you can take the pledge and support San Jose and the Arts.

Photo Credit: Miguel Martinez | Event: J-Town Film Fest

#iPledgeSJ: Do you?

If you live in San Jose, chances are you’ve asked or heard someone ask, “What is there to do in San Jose?” Or, perhaps you’ve heard, “I wish more people would hear about these events,” or “Why don’t more people attend these events?” Being an advocate for San Jose can be challenging. We know that there is always something to do in San Jose How do we let others know?

Enter #iPledgeSJ. San Jose is a complex and diverse place with a mix of different cultures, subcultures, and creative individuals. The result is a beautiful array of options for things to do. The challenge we have as advocates of San Jose is how best to create awareness about San Jose’s artistic and cultural vibrancy.

#iPledgeSJ’s purpose is to engage San Jose’s community members to encourage greater, active participation in our City’s artistic and cultural scenes. Truly there is a space for every one of us. The Kooltura team will curate a selection of events that are unique to San Jose and representative of its culture. We will share our curated list of events through a monthly blog-post that showcases #iPledgeSJ events.

Interested in taking the pledge?



Here’s what you do.

  1. Attend at least one event once a month.
  2. Bring a friend…or two to the event!
  3. Post photo to Twitter or Instagram using #iPledgeSJ


By taking the pledge, you commit to attend at least one event that is unique to San Jose and to bring at least one friend with you to share the experience. During the event, take a photo and post it to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #iPledgeSJ. It’s that simple — we promise.

Below is the first list of events to choose from to launch your pledge.

Take the pledge!




3/19 Book Launch Party for The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy by Gary Singh
Join author Gary Singh, a San Jose native and lifelong fan, as he recounts the Earthquakes’ legendary story in vibrant detail.

3/19 – Drink and Draw at The Art Boutiki
Art Boutiki hosts its first ever Drink and Draw. Come on out with us and bring your art supplies and draw to the sounds of our guest DJ Thirdeye Shrine.

3/20 – The Commons presents “The Vernal Equinox”
Join the Commons at the Circle of Palms to welcome the Spring season with an evening of performance featuring the acclaimed torch singer, Jackie Gage.

3/20 – Metalachi, Mokahete, & Total Badass
METALACHI, MOLKAHETE, TOTAL BADASS live at the Back Bar in the SoFA District.

3/22 – San Jose Challenge 2015
The San Jose Challenge urban scavenger hunt adventure race.

3/23 –  SV Creates Board (DOT) Impact
Silicon Valley Creates is partnering with Center for Excellence in Nonprofits (CEN) and BoardSource to help increase capacity of the cultural ecosystem to bring you a day long Board Development Conference called Board(dot)Impact. 

3/28 – Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative March
Memorial Mass and Commemorative march will be held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. 2020 East San Antonio Street San Jose, CA 95116. 

3/28 – SJMAG Girlfriend Appreciation Day
In honor of Women’s History Month, the San Jose Multicultural Artists Guild and Tabia African American Theatre Ensemble present Entertainment, Audience Participation, Vendors, Raffles and much more!

3/28 – iBecome
Andre Hart holds his last one man show in San Jose. The show is titled “ iBecome”. The artist will be showcasing his new style in painting.

3/23-4/19 – M. Butterfly, by David Henry Hwang
A haunting tale at City Lights Theater Company of a French diplomat’s gradual, inevitable submission to the charms of a Chinese opera star who personifies his fantasy vision of submissive oriental sexuality. 

3/31 – 14th Annual Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative Breakfast
Join the Chavez Family Vision, Inc. in celebrating the 14th Annual Cesar E. Chavez Commemorative Breakfast.



MoTown Mondays – Mondays
A weekly dance party. Spinning originals, remixes, & close relatives of your favorite Motown songs.

The Changing Same – Thursdays
A weekly excursion keeping time with the future of Soul, RnB, and Jazz every Thursday. With guest DJ’s, live performances and dancing.

Nomikai DJ Nights – Various Days
Assortment of nights featuring great DJ’s.

FutureArtsNow! Open Sessions – M/W/TH
Open funk, house, and break dance sessions at the Edenvale Community Center.



Know of an event that should be on the list? We are open to suggestions. Send us an email to with the subject line “iPledgeSJ”, a description of the event, any social media accounts associated with the event, and a website link if possible.

Join us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram where we will be sharing photos of those taking the pledge.


Photo Credit: Jonathan Garcia | Event: FAME SS2014