The Ambulante traveling documentary film festival founded by Mexican actors Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna has arrived in the United States with the screening of a movie about late farmworkers' leader Cesar Chavez.

"Documentaries for the Latino community are completely transforming because when we identify (with what is on screen), whether because of the language or because the people look like us ..., people feel that they're being given a place," Christine Davila, Ambulante California's director, told Efe.

The screenings of Ambulante films in the United States will be geared for the Hispanic audience, she added, because "seeing images on the big screen that reflect our culture is super important."

"I think there is a need to generate Latino American narratives and expressions with depth, transcendence and within a sustainable, long-term model," Garcia Bernal was quoted as saying in a press release Thursday.

"I think that's where documentary film is a critical tool specifically to bridge this gap, to reflect a unique identity and to empower many people to feel pride from where they come from, who they are, who they would like to be and where they would like to go."

Luna said for his part that the goal of the project is "to celebrate films that matter."

"Ambulante is by far the project that I'm most proud of being a part of, because I feel like I belong to something that matters", the actor, who like Garcia Bernal is also a producer and director, said.

The festival, which began in Mexico and also has presented selected programs in countries including Spain, El Salvador and Colombia, "came out of a necessity to show films that were not being shown in my community. It's about celebrating the films that matter and celebrating being part of the audience," Luna said.

Ambulante's screenings in California began with an outdoor showing Thursday of "Cesar's Last Fast," a film directed by Richard Ray Perez and Lorena Parlee about legendary migrant farm workers' leader Cesar Chavez, in Los Angeles' MacArthur Park.

Daily film screenings will later be held from Sept. 21 to Oct. 4 in different parts of the Los Angeles metropolitan area.

From 2005 to the present, Ambulante has screened 106 documentaries in 11 Mexican states and those films have been seen by nearly 87,000 people.

Los Angeles, which is home to nearly 4 million inhabitants, around 50 percent of whom are of Hispanic descent, is the right place to launch Ambulante in the United States, Davila said. EFE