film festival tourism

Todos Santos

The Todos Santos Film Festival

2007 Poster

Why Go: For the town and the beaches. See a few movies while you’re there.

A cove near Todos Santos

Festival Description: Under the assured hands-on direction of longtime Todos Santos resident Silvia Perel, this modestly-scaled event, begun in 2003,  attracts a loyal following of locals, largely American retirees and artists who winter in this attractive town. Of all the festivals I have attended, this one deserves a prize for the most enthusiastic response  for the most meager resources.

Sylvia Perel


Timing: Four days in late February

Programming: The selections veer toward middle-of-the-road art-house fare chosen to appeal to the (mostly gringo) locals who attend. Fest organizer Perel gives informed, welcoming intros to all films, which are shown with English subtitles. Two films are shown each day, one in late afternoon, the other in early evening.

Venues: The restored Teatro Manuel Marquez de Leon allows festgoers to watch films in comfort.

Teatro Manuel Marquez de Leon

Audience: Mostly American snowbirds. They like movies and are committed to the community. Over 100 people show up for each screening, enjoying chats with friends before and after the films were shown.


  • The Todos Santos Inn is housed in an elegantly restored vintage building close to the theater .

Entrance to the Todos Santos Inn

  • The Hacienda Todos los Santos offers luxurious new suites set among eight acres of lush landscaping overlooking the huerta with the ocean in the distance. It’s a short walk to the theater.

The pool at the Hacienda Todos los Santos

Restaurants: The town is awash in great eateries. Among the best:

  • Cafe Santa Fe: Vastly overpriced,  but the Italian food is excellent and the ambiance magical.

Cafe Santa Fe

  • Tre Galline. Excellent Italian cuisine at reasonable prices.

Tre Galline

  • Los Adobos: Creative Mexican cuisine served in a lovely cactus garden.

Los Adobes

  • El Gusto: Worth a visit just for its setting on a bird-filled lagoon with the ocean just beyond. The food measures up.

El Gusto Restaurant

  • Cafe Todos Santos. Good for breakfast. The portions are enormous.

Cafe Todos Santos


  • Beaches: Beautiful, big and almost empty; but swimming is treacherous except at the Las Palmas beach a few miles south of town.

A beach near Todos Santos

  • Art Galleries: A mixed lot, but there are many to explore and you’re likely to find some works to your taste.

Main Street of Todos Santos

The Festival Year by Year


2010 Program Book

Best Film I Saw: Almost Divas (Casi Divas). Mexican director Issa Lopez delivers a lively, emotion-filled tale about a talent search among a diverse throng of young girls for the starring role in a big-budget telenovella.

Almost Divas

Unexpected Pleasure: The charm and charisma of longtime Todos Santos educator Nester Agundez Martinez, profiled in a short locally-made documentary celebrating his many contributions to the town’s culture.


2012 Program book

Best Film I Saw: Even the Rain (Tambien la lluvia). Paul Laverty, longtime Ken Loach collaborator, crafted an intricate, politically committed script for this 2011 story of Spanish moviemakers in Bolivia caught up in a battle waged by the indigenous population over water rights. Mexican heartthrob Gael Garcia stars under the direction of  Iciar Bollain, who took over after Alexandro Gonzales inarritu dropped out of the project.

Even the Rain

Unexpected Pleasures

  • The warmth and aplomb of festival director Sylvia Perel.
  • The charming animations created by local school children which served as festival promo reels.
  • The appearance of special festival guest, the much-honored Mexican star Daniel Gimenez Cacho, who answered questions about his new film The Painting Lesson (La Leccion de pintura)

Daniel Gimenez Cacho in The Painting Lesson

  • The incorporation of local political issues (water rights, indigenous peoples) into the discussion after many of the films.
  • The large, enthusiastic audiences for every screening.

the audience in Teatro Manuel Marquez de Leon


2013 Festival Program Book

Best Film I Saw: The Good Herbs (Las Buenas Hierbas) Veteran Mexican filmmaker Maria Novaro’s touching portrait of a mother and daughter confronting aging and loss, highlighted by a scene-stealing “performance” by four-year-old Cosmo Gonzales Munoz.

Cosmo Gonzales Munoz in The Good Herbs

Unexpected Pleasures: Fest Organizer Sylvia Perel’s touching on-stage tribute to her recently deceased husband Leonardo, a major contributor to the festival as the co-ordinator of its invaluable youth in video program. Leonardo’s portrait graced the cover of the 2013 program book (pictured above).


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