Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna of Ambulante

Gael Garcia Bernal, left, and Diego Luna are bringing their Ambulante film fest to California. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times / March 9, 2009)

Ambulante, the Mexican itinerant not-for-profit documentary film festival, founded by actors Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal and producer Pablo Cruz, is crossing the border into Southern California.

Aimed at using documentaries to "promote social change and cultural transformation," Ambulante and its subsidiary Ambulante Global have for the last dozen years brought documentary film screenings and related events to cities across Mexico, and around the world, where quality documentaries are rarely screened in theaters. 

Now a spinoff series, Ambulante California, is scheduled to begin touring metropolitan L.A. starting Sept. 21 and continuing through Oct. 4, 2014. Screenings will take place at universities, high schools, museums, community centers, outdoor venues and makeshift spaces. Filmmakers will be invited to present their films at each screening in order to foster dialogue and explore context with the public.

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The announcement of the new series was made last week at the Morelia International Film Festival in the Mexican state of Michoacan.

The L.A. version of the festival will be led by Christine Davila, an independent film programmer who has worked as curator for various film festivals and film series and has been programming associate for the Sundance Film Festival since 2008.

“The driving core of Ambulante has always been to bring and unpack nonfiction storytelling to areas where it doesn’t reach, and to activate audiences to engage with the dynamic genre as a tool for change and celebration," Elena Fortes, founding director of Ambulante, said in a statement.

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"L.A. is the ideal place for Ambulante Global to kick off a mini Ambulante tour, given its sprawl, diverse populace, and strong Latino rooted sensibility.”

Ambulante was hatched by longtime friends and collaborators Garcia Bernal, Luna and Cruz, who also are partners in the Canana Films production company.

"Ambulante was born of the love that we have, the longing that we have that the documentary would have its own space, that young people can see these works that we love, and for the necessity of there being cinema that makes you think, that provokes debate and in which you see yourself reflected," Luna said at a 2006 Mexico City news conference.

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