The 2017 Sundance Film Festival is officially underway, and its a special one for me because it marks my 10th year with the not for profit. I started working for the institute in 2007 and ever since, every year from from August to November, I screen submissions as a Programming Associate, primarily Latin American and Latino films. More than ever, I feel priviledged to watch such a volume and diverse array of perspectives.
As for my personal mission on this blog, I choose to talk about Latino representation in a laser focused way: highlighting the writers and directors who are out there telling the stories they want to tell the way they want to tell it, and emphasizing the U.S. context. As much as I love to talk about international films, the real void in the U.S. media and therefore urgent need to support, are stories created by first, second, third, multicultural generation Americans.
Overview: Boricuas dominating. Puerto Rico most definitely repping. Also, we got a healthy presence in Digital and Virtual Reality which makes sense beause it (WE) are the future. Without further ado, a rundown of WTF is Latino at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
In the U.S. Documentary Competition
DOLORES AKA Woman in Motion directed by Peter Bratt
Executive produced by none other than Carlos Santana and supported by the San Francisco Film Society’s Documentary Fund, this long overdue celebration of Dolores Huerta’s achievements over the course of her 60something years in civil rights is reverent, timely and galvanizing. Peter Bratt is an alumni of the festival. He wrote and directed the San Francisco set, gay coming of age La Mission which played in the 2009 festival. Armed with a rich archive of footage, banging soundtrack and one-on-ones with Dolores herself, the film chronicles one woman’s boldness in tackling the obstacles she faced on the sociopolitical battlefield along with the personal challenges of being an absentee mother. It encourages all women to seize claim to their often overlooked contributions to society.
New to the festival, Puerto Rican Antonio Santini’s first documentary feature co-directed with Dan Sickles, MALA MALA about the trans sex worker community in Puerto Rico, premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. Like the intimate access of that film, Dina also has a striking sense of intimacy, unpresumptiousness and ultimately delivers an unexpected and very honest connection to someone as authentically unique as Dina.
In the high profile out of competition Premieres section
The Sundance Film Festival showed Arteta’s very first film, Star Maps back in 1997. Ever since he’s made a career of crafting indelible characters across film and television. He reteams with Mike White (Chuck and Buck, GoodGirl) on this deliciously wicked tale of a fateful dinner encounter between a humble holistic healer and a mega brazen successful business developer. The two opposing forces are embodied by the superb Salma Hayek and immense John Lithgow. Thought provoking, unpredictable and utterly engrossing, the dark comedy is produced by Killer Films. Watch an exclusive clip here.
Co-written with her star and partner in crime, Brett Gelman, Janicza’s striking feature length debut boasts an insanely big and comedically gifted cast including Michael Cera, Judy Greer, Gillian Jacobs, Martin Starr. Along with a background in design, Bravo has a knack for capturing characters lost in flight with a tragic humor and heart. An alumni of the festival, Gregory Go Boom with Michael Cera and last year’s Woman in Deep with Alison Pill, Bravo is a busy woman. Last May she debuted a Virtual Reality experience at Tribeca Film Festival, called A Hard World for Small Things about a day in the life of South Central, and also directed an episode of the Golden Globe winning show, Atlanta.
Marking their 12th project (features and shorts) at the festival in 7 years, multimedia mischievous artists, Jillian and Lucas bring a japanese inspired marionette short this year which like all of their work is eye-grabbing, provocative and is about more than meets the eye. The Miami full time Borsht Corp is a nonprofit which supports Miami filmmakers, they recently supported 28 filmmakers with cold hard cash all of which are poised to premiere at their festival which has been listed on Moviemakers 25 Coolest Festivals in the world. For more info on this February’s event click here.
Making her directorial debut, actor Rosa Salazar stars in this short shot around the hipster rising area in LA named Frogtown. The logline: A complex chick deals with a vanilla beau, a shitty brunch, and a dead coyote all in a Los Angeles day. Heart. Excited to see more of her writing and directing.
Marvin Lemus who made a short film with Project Involve called Vamonos which I loved (you can watch it on PBS online) will be premiering 3 episodes of this series that takes place in Boyle Heights. Each episode features a resident trying to pursue their living/art. Lemus hits a chord/funny bone here as most of the tension and strife is intergenerational; old school mexican generation clashing with millenials. The series is backed by Mr. Charles King and his company Macro. Lemus is in good company. Macro also produced Denzel Washington’s Fences, and at the festival Dee Ree’s WW2 period Mudbound.
Its only three years ago that William popped up on the radar with his animated series Gran’pa Knows Best, a really funny and sweet series in which he used3-D printed miniatures of his Puerto Rican grandfather over real voicemails that his grandfather from would leave for him. Initially an independent short, it was quickly snapped up with HBO. Victor y Isolina introduces his grandma to the mix, who is the perfect foil to his unapologetic grandpa. Produced by Elaine Del Valle who produced her own webseries, Reasons y I’m Single. Check out his website for more info.
In the New Frontier (the future) section
I don’t know much about this one but the description sounds super fascinating; a beauty salon of the future’. Fingers crossed I get an opportunity to experience it while I’m here. Also I’m dying to meet one of the artist/engineers, Carmen Aguilar y Wedge who founded Hypen-Lab, an international team of women of color working at the intersection of tech, art, science and narrative.
IF NOT LOVE by Rose Troche
I been crushing hard on Rose Troche for as far back as I can remember. Go Fish changed my life. No joke. She was a producer on Concussion, and has since come back to the festival in the New Frontier program with a series called Perspectives, which puts you in the shoes of a person caught in a situation a result which shatters any idea of black and white and makes you swim in the gray. Per the description: IF NOT LOVE challenges the viewer to contemplate another difficult subject—a mass shooting at a nightclub, but this time with the question posited: is another outcome possible?
OUT OF EXILE: DANIEL’S STORY by Nonny de la Peña
I mean, she’s been called the Godmother of Virtual Reality. Nonny de la Peña also returns to New Frontier with this piece that recreates Daniel Ashley Pierce’s coming out video that went viral. If you don’t know the heartbreaking and inspirational story read here This experience puts your body into the middle of the action around audio that Daniel recording during that encounter.
For deeper coverage on Latino and Latin American talent at the festival check out REMEZCLA. For a closer look at all documentaries at the festival head over to What (not) to Doc. Livestream the festival’s panels and watch select shorts from home. And follow my BTS on Twitter @IndieFindsLA and insta ChicanafromChicago.
Quick answer: Not much. But it’s too easy, not to mention unproductive, to bemoan and criticize awards shows for their lack of recognition when it comes to Latino writers/directors. Unfortunately there isn’t much of an eligible pool for these big awards shows to consider (why that is -for another post). Also, for those new to my blog; I define Latino strictly in the American generation/context, not international, and I focus on creators (writers and directors). Now lets celebrate who we do got because it’s pretty cool that of these few American Latino writers/directors in the Golden Globes mix, they happen to be all WOMEN!
Although it is the showrunner/producers who accept the Best TV categories, the writers and directors of the nominated shows obviously are part of what makes the show stand out. To that end, lets give props to the ladies that contributed to the critical success of these nominated series:
In the Best TV Drama series category, there is Jessie Nickson Lopez, staff writer on Netflix’s STRANGER THINGS. The young Columbia University grad was raised between Canada and the U.S. and has Venezuelan roots. After a brief stint at ICM followed by being staffed on A&E’s short lived The Returned, she worked as assistant to Moira Walley-Beckett (Breaking Bad EP/writer) on STARZ ballet drama, Flesh and Bone which was nominated for a Golden Globe last year in the Best Television Limited Series category. Stranger Things debuted this summer to much acclaim and hype with eight episodes. She wrote episode 6: The Monster. The show will be back for season 2.
In the Best TV Comedy series category, Mexican-American Linda Mendoza has directed 4 episodes over the course of the 3 year old series BLACKISH from ABC. Mendoza has been directing hit television show episodes on the regular ever since The Chris Rock show on which she directed 13 episodes during 97-98 season. Except for her 2003 feature Chasing Papi for Pantelion, she has stayed entrenched in the television business.
WINNER ********Also in the Best TV Comedy series, Panamanian Janizca Bravo directed an episode of another new show that came in hot this year, ATLANTA. Her episode was Junteenth. Bravo has a great eye and very soulfully brings a dark comedy to her work. She has directed a number of short films as well as a virtual reality project about police brutality that was featured at the Tribeca Film Festival. She is about to premiere her feature debut, Lemon at this month’s Sundance Film Festival, so you’ll be hearing a lot more of her in the next few weeks.
As mentioned, award shows can only be as representative as the eligible pool so to be fair, what features and television shows were eligible and were snubbed THIS YEAR? I regret to say I lack hard data and to be honest I’m not as well versed in the television landscape as I am in the indie film world (new years resolution!). A few I do know who we’re technically elegible bear mentioning; Danielle Sanchez-Witzel who is the showrunner on The Carmichael Show on NBC didnt get any GG love. Empire which was nominated last year has a writing room that includes Carlito Rodriguez who is also co-producer. He previously wrote on the first season of HBO’s The Leftovers. Orange is the New Black which boasts a killer Latina cast who didn’t get recognized- includes Marco Ramirez as writer. The Get Down includes Jacqueline Rivera as staff writer who also directed an episode. While Gina Rodriguez gets her third nomination (and sole Latina acting nominee) for her acting on Jane the Virgin the show didn’t get any love this year (It was last nominated in 2015 the year of its debut). The show consistently engages Latina scribes, Emmylou Diaz and Valentina Garza, and director Zetna Fuentes. In previous years Hulu’s hit show East Los High received a number of daytime Emmy Awards but the Globes never recognized the show which was created by Carlos Portugal and included a robust number of Latino writers. NBC’s Shades of Blue wasn’t nominated which includes writer Benjamin Lobato who also wrote on USA’s Queen of the South another show that premiered this year. Peter Murrieta wrote on TV Land’s Lopez show. Just recently premiered, so not part of this year’s submissions, Netflix’s One Day at a Time counts Murrieta as a writer and notably Gloria Calderon as showrunner (next year?)
Last year we had Ricky Gervais prophetically introduce Eva Longoria and America Ferrara as folks our future president wants to deport. Conceptually (painfully) funny to prove a point/Brit rub it in move, except both are American citizens. The ladies proceeded to do a bit on people mistaking them for other famous Latinas. Among this year’s presenters, Zoe Saldana who plays Ben Afflecks love interest in his period gang drama Live by Night is the only American Latina on deck. The Dominican American is known to speak flawless Español. Her body of work is fascinating in that she’s managed to play Black, Latina and now simply blockbuster actor (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avatar). Saldana has a production company Cinestar which she runs with her sisters and has a first-look deal with South Shore Television and Pantelion Films, the U.S. joint ventures of Grupo Televisa and Lionsgate. Hopefully they manage to bring up and work with some talented Latino creators.
In the Best Original Song category, musical star Lin Manuel-Miranda was nominated for his work on How Far I’ll Go with Mark Mancini and Opetaia Foa’i.
If you are like me, you make local film festival plans last minute, which makes my annual WTF is Latino at LA Film Festival post not so much late as just (still) in time for you to make a few movie selections this weekend and next week. The festival started last Wednesday, June 1 and runs through Thursday June 9th. PDF of schedule here.
In full disclosure I am a Programming Consultant for the festival. These aren’t reviews as much as hopefully an insightful guide. My purpose in this series is not only to spotlight Latino writers/directors and monitor representation, but also to challenge notions of WTF is Latino. It is a U.S. context classification that is vast; a generational and geographic diaspora. The term Latino is often mistakenly appropriated to international filmmakers/talent from Spanish and Portugese-speaking countries. Alejandro Gonzales Inñaritu is not Latino or a Person of Color guys. I’m talking about ‘Merican – Latinos.
The biggest change at the LA Film Festival is that it has moved from DTLA’s L.A. Live Regal Cinemas to the West side in Culver City’s Arclight Cinemas. The festival has scaled down considerably from 2014’s nearly 200 features to this year’s 56 feature-length film lineup. It underwent a programming department shakeup last year, the result of which it achieved an unprecedented shift towards more inclusive representation. The festival also established a strict world premiere requirement outside of a few special screenings and the Buzz section in order to give new films a shot. For the second year in a row the festival remains leader of the mainstream festival pack with keeping true to its diversity mission. 43% of the films in competition categories are directed by women; and 38% of the films are directed by people of color. 86% of the films in competition are directed by 1st or 2nd time directors.
About the U.S. Latino rep – there’s 5 US. Latino feature-length writers/directors I can identify which comes out to roughly under 10%. In front of the camera the program includes co-starring/cameo roles from established actors like John Leguizamo, Eva Longoria, Lauren Luna Velez, Elizabeth Rodriguez, Judy Reyes, Emily Rios as well as hot rising talent like Gabriel Chavarria, Yvette Monreal and Victor Almanzar.
LOWRIDERS directed by Ricardo de Montreuil, written by Elgin James and Cheo Hodari Coker.
Everyone agrees that the film’s theme made this the perfect LA Film Festival world premiere and while I’ll take full credit in pitching the film to the festival, I certainly cannot take credit for giving it the prestigious Opening Night slot which speaks to Festival Director, Stephanie Allain’s mission of centering underrepresented films as festival headliners. About the film’s pedigree: The film was conceived by Hollywood producer Brian Grazer who grew up fascinated with the lowrider culture. Grazer enlisted Peruvian filmmaker Ricardo de Montreuil to direct, who with his super talented Colombian DP Andres Sanchez, captures the landmark bridges, hills, hotspots and avenues of El Sereno, Echo Park, Elysian Park and Boyle Heights. But its LA born and bred legendary tattoo artist Mr. Cartoon and photographer Estevan Oriol, listed as executive producers, along with co-writer Elgin James, who lend the film some cred and streak of authenticity into this male-dominated club culture. In front of the camera is East Los Angeles native Gabriel Chavarria (East Los) who plays Danny Alvarez, the graffiti artist son of a an OG lowrider club member. Cast is rounded out by Italian stallion sweetheart Theo Rossi (Sons of Anarchy) who plays his brother, Guatemalan-American Tony Revolri as a friend, Academy Award nominated Mexican actor Demian Bichir (A Better Life), Eva Longoria and Yvette Monreal. The Grazer/Blumhouse production, which is said to have cost around 5 million, has yet to announce a release date let alone a trailer or social media campaign.
A bittersweet tale about a fascinating and flawed man who comes to an unsettling realization about his impermanence. Set in Merced, California where Mexican-American filmmaker Reyes is from, Lupe Under the Sun is slotted in the World Cinema competition. I listed this film as one of my top 10 films to watch out for in 2016 so I’m so excited to see it get its first festival premiere. While it makes sense to tag the docu-fiction film under immigrant struggles, don’t get it twisted. Reyes’ sophomore film smartly eschews politics and portrays a personal and deeply moving character’s existential crisis.
11:55 directed by Ben Snyder and Ari Issler, written by Victor Almanzar
The title is a sly evocation to a 3:10 to Yuma type western duel in that it sets an increasingly tense timer from Marine Nelson Sanchez’s early morning return back home to that night’s arrival of a bus carrying a dangerous antagonist who blames him for the death of his brother and is out for revenge. Dominican-American Victor Almanzar who is a real life Marine, stars and co-wrote the film. The story is tight and oozes tension from the get as his homecoming is quickly overshadowed by the looming danger which conflicts with his genuine desire to move forward with his girlfriend and protect his sister and niece. Bomb performances by Victor and Elizabeth Rodriguez as well as John Leguizamo who plays a veteran in a wheelchair (damn he is good at drama). About the directors, both cinematographers in their own right, Ben Snyder notably was a Story Consultant for documentary The Wolfpack and did additional cinematography for Nas: Time is Illmatic, while Ari has shot music documentaries like Brothers Hypnotic and the Hip Hop Project.
The film had its first world premiere screening Thursday night so if you missed it I urge you to join the campaign to demand an encore screening slot. I hope it happens. This is a must watch as its an incredible feat of collaborative and guerilla filmmaking. It is a ridiculously authentic and compelling feature of interweaving slices of Black youth in Brooklyn led by one college-bound 18 year old Caesar Winslow’s pursuit of romance across Brooklyn.
When I asked Rivero how he defines his cultural background, he said Hip Hop. Which is a good reminder how each person identifies with their own distinct cultural upbringing (Okay he’s got a grandfather from Cuba).
Emily Rios (From Dusk til Dawn tv, The Bridge, Quinceañera) plays Alia Shawkat’s punk no nonsense best friend in the film adaptation of Paint it Black written by Janet Finch. It’s notably quite an impressive and dynamic directorial debut by actor Amber Tamblyn. The film is premiering in the U.S. Competition.
Lauren Luna Velez has a deliciously wicked role as police chief in the ultra-fun action violent cult comic adaptation Officer Downe about an L.A. supercop who is killed in the line of duty but is resurrected to clean up the streets. The joy ride is directed by M. Shawn Crahan (Slipknot) screening in the NightFall Section.
Judy Reyes (Scrubs) is called on to soothe the anxiety of a young girl’s first period and welcome her into womanhood in comedy Girl Flu written and directed by Dorie Barton, screening in the LA Muse section.
and now MISC: A couple of my recent festival faves and must-see’s if you can catch them at the fest.
KICKS, the pulsing and striking directorial debut of Justin Tipping is co-written with Joshua Beirne-Golden. Both of whom incidentally wrote an original script for Lowriders at one point and ultimately received co-producer credit. The Oakland set film stars stunner talent Jahking Guillory who decides to go after whats his (the Air Jordans he bought himself which he was jacked for) ultimately sending him on an irrevocable path torwards confronting what it means to be a man in his social construct. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. #KicksFilm
JEANS OF THE JONESES – saw this really witty matriarchal comedy at SXSW by first time filmmaker Black Canadian Stella Meghie starring Taylor Paige as a hopeless in love, adorably searching writer.
Follow the latest scoop @LAFilmFest, check out their YouTube videos for daily coverage and interviews, and for more info go to website or call box office: 1 866 Film Fest.
Heading to the Westside so stay tuned for more via my twitter handle: @IndieFindsLA
I’m getting all psyched up just thinking about this weekend when I’ll finally be seated at the Alamo Ritz on 6th street, ordering my refreshing Paloma cocktail, and sitting back to watch some wildness that SXSW Film selected. Yep, its the 2016 SXSW rodeo.
So what’s the Latino presence? Lets go wide for this one. For the past two years SXSW has tagged its Ibero and Latin American programming across film, interactive and music, under the umbrella SXAméricas. This year, Brazil and Spain have the biggest presence in the film program (3 features for Brazil, 5 films/filmakers from Spain). For the first time in the festival’s history there is a film from Ecuador, UIO: Take Me for a Ride (although back in 2014 Austin based Ecuadorian-American filmmaker Alex R. Johnson had his film Two Step in the fest) which is notable for its rarity. Major KEY alert, Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez will be dropping his mysteriously under wraps untitled Ghosthouse Thriller.
Personally I cannot wait to see WAR ON EVERYONE by the wicked Irish hooligan John Michael McDonagh (The Guard, Cavalry, also his brother wrote/directed the savagely entertaining IN BRUGES). War on Everyone which premiered in the fancy Berlinale last month is a black, pulpy buddy cop flick filmed in ‘Burque’ New Mexico. The film stars Michael Peña, Alexander Skarsgard, Tessa Thompson and Miss Bala/Bond girl Stephanie Sigman.
I usually try to focus on only U.S. Latino writers/directors, but I’ll expand and be global for this edition as there is just too much cool filmmaking and stories coming from South America and Spain. Also, this is by no means a definitive list of WTF is Latino but a pre-curtain look. More once I’m on the ground!
One of five directors Vice says is going to save Spanish Cinema, Carles Torrens’ second feature film, Pet is premiering in the Midnight section. From Barcelona, Torrens graduated from Chapman University. A psychological thriller in which Dominic Monaghan plays a man who runs into an old high school classmate he use to have the hots for. His creepy attempts to romance is met with rejection. Naturally, he takes her prisoner at the dogpound he works at to teach her a lesson, only to find that she is not who she seems. Torrens’ first directing feature was Apartment 143 written by Rodrigo Cortes (Buried with Ryan Reynolds). Previously Torrens directed shorts like the twisted thriller Sequence, which has played over a hundred festivals. Pet teaser below.
The OVA’S ARE COMING! It’s so rad to see this documentary about the badass cycling brigade, Ovarian Psycos get its world premiere at South By. I have been talking about this one on here since its first Kickstarter, and last year’s Top Docs to Watch Out for list. The filmmakers managed to successfully crowd-fund a second time on Kickstarter in order to fly and put up members of the collective from the Eastside EL-Lay in Austin and represent at the world premiere. Don’t be surprised to see the sisterhood ride through the street raising awareness for social issues that affect all women. In fact I’d follow them on Twitter so you can join in. Austin has a great rental bike program.
With no confirmed title yet nor film stills out there, this second original film from Alvarez is about “a group of teens break into a blind man’s home thinking they’ll get away with the perfect crime. They’re wrong.” This is the guy who six years ago caught fire when his 5 minute short film Panic Attack made the rounds and ultimately got him the gig to helm the 2013 Evil Dead reboot which is bananas. Only info that is clear on this one is that Jane Levy stars, its from Sony Pictures and Sam Raimi produces. It’s been referred to and on IMDB its listed as A Man in the Dark. Fede has also been rumored to be director of Warner Bros’ Dark Universe. Fede has also directed episodes of Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Til Dawn TV series.
A thriller set in the dry outposts of Texas in which border patrol men, two of who are played by Latinos, Clifton Gonzalez and Gabriel Luna, stumble onto evidence that may lead to a plot between the cartel and one of their own. I read the script a while ago and remember vividly visualizing the filmmakers’ cinematic western noir intent. Given the score is co-written by The Revenant composer, Bryce Dessner, and it the film shot by Jeffrey Waldron, a versatile commercial, documentary and indie film D.P, it will surely deliver on that front. Kwedar, who previously produced the documentary Rising From Ashes, about Rwanda’s first ever cyling team, teamed up with Texan filmmaker, Clint Bentley to write his feature directorial debut. I’m eager to report back on this one. Last border fiction tale I saw that flexed its thriller genre (unfortunately over story) was El Desierto from Mexican Jonas Cuaron which ultimately suffered from oversimplistic storytelling.
In Narrative Spotlight, From Nowhere is the film adaptation of the play, No One Asked Me written by Kate Ballen, whose 10 year experience as a counselor at a Bronx high school where she helped undocumented students navigate the college admission process became the basis and inspiration to tell this story. Australian director/actor Newton directed No One Asked Me as part of Fringe NYC festival last fall. Newton previously directed Three Blind Mice which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Julianne Nicholson ostensibly plays Kate as the teacher and the students are played by J. Mallory McCree (Quantico, We Need to Talk about Kevin), and newcomer Octavia Chavez-Richmond.
Homaro Cantu was a goddamned trail blazer. Legend has it that he came to Chicago with $300 in his pocket and camped out at famed master chef Charlie Trotter’s until he gave him a job. He shortly thereafter became his sous chef. In 2003 he opened up his avant garde restaurant Moto which became a prized Michelin star rated restaurant and blew up Chicago on the culinary map. He was a beloved figure in the chef community so the news of his death last spring at age 38 rocked everyone’s world. My sister, Diana Davila who is a chef in Chicago idolized Cantu so much that she had her engagement dinner there. Apparently filmmaker Brett A. Schwartz was granted a fair amount of access for the three years he followed him. The aptly titled film focuses on Cantu’s game-changing culinary practices, mad passion for the intersection of science, art and health, and deep imprint he left as a molecular gastronomy pioneer.
I previously wrote about Ivette’s film Mexican Fried Chicken. Her new documentary short with filmmaking partner Patrick Bresnan premiered at Sundance earlier this year. The film is a fly on the wall look at a group of seniors from a Central Florida high school as they they prep and dress for the big prom affair which includes their local block party show where the royally dressed young couples pose for snaps.
You know you want to watch. Here is the full 3 minute shit.
The 23 year old filmmaker’s bio: Cinema is what I truly believe. Cinema is the cause and solution for every trouble I have. Cinema to me is like morphine to Bela Lugosi, like Richard Burton to Liz Taylor, like red lights to Dario Argento, like big boobs to Russ Meyer, like Lynch and the dwarfs.
VICTOR XX written and directed by Ian Garrido Lopez.
Trailer above for the 20 something min short from Spain which was incubated and premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The film’s synopsis: “Victor likes to experiment with his gender. He doesn’t know if he feels like a boy or a girl.” The actor who plays Victor, Alba Martinez is magnetic. Bravo to Ian, a 27 year old transgender filmmaker from the south east Mediteranean coast of Spain for directing the performance and bringing this story to the fore.
I previously wrote about this first feature in my last Mexican film roundup post. Making its U.S. premiere after playing Toronto up north and Los Cabos down South, the film is a keenly felt and compelling story set in a run down Acapulco during Easter holiday. You might recognize Tenoch Huerta from Dias de Gracia, Gueros, Mozart & The Jungle.
LGBT film from Ecuador, a co-production with Mexico and Colombia. Michaela has spent the last five years working on her first fiction feature debut, working from a script by Juan José Valle. You can see the trailer on the film sales agent site M-Appeal
First premiering at the Venice Film Festival this impressive next level teen angst tale is a first feature from Brazil/Argentina. Set in a newly developed city in Rio de Janeiro the story’s backdrop is a wave of murders which calls 15 year old Bia’s attention. The filmmaker says, “Bia is someone who wants to kill herself yet wants to carry on living, experiencing everything to the edge – she wants to be killed but also wants to kill, wake up the next day, and do it all over again.” Sounds dope.
The hums, deep waves and barge ship motor noises makes for a really hypnotizing minimal film from Spain. Check out the trailer here. Born in Barcelona in 1976, Mauro Herce graduated in engineering and fine arts before enrolling in top film school Cuba’s San Antonio de los Baños.
Selected in the Visions section, the more ‘audacious’ filmmaking section, this 1983 set Brazilian caper about stealing the world cup trophy looks like pure boogie down fun. You can see trailer here. Caito Ortiz is on the director roster of slick advertising and entertainment company Prodigo Films.
In my last post I highlighted Rafael Palacio Illingworth and his intense relationship drama, The Force now called Between Us. Very cool to share the announcement that it will premiere at the Tribeca film festival this April. Lucky new yorkers! Browsing through the list I’m also pleased for Cecilia Aldarondo’s documentary Memories of a Penitent Heart, a very personal film in which she rattles some family secrets comcerning her estranged gay uncle. And I am so stoked for the opener, KICKS, a script I fell in love with years back. Justin Tipping and Josh Beirne-Golden have two back to back features unspooling this year, this bay area sneaker caper and LOWRIDERS which they wrote and peruvian Ricardo de Montreuil is directing, starring Tony Revolori. Check out rest of the fest list here:
The 15th annual New York festival has unveiled about half the films on its 101-feature lineup, with 55… Read more »
No better time than Oscar week to post my annual list of new films made by Latinos. I hope reading about these cool flicks inspires you to seek and consume the stories you value outside the super exclusive corporate media. Before we get to the list, my 3.63 pesos on the #HollywoodSoWhite convo.
Rafael Palacio Illingworth
I appreciated Dennis Romero’s recent LA Weekly article called “Hollywood’s Diversity Emergency is not Black” in which he gives big ups to the Black community for doing the ‘heavy lifting’ in making the diversity conversation trend. Romero essentially calls on the Asian and Latino community to take part in the dialogue because we stand the most to gain in moving the dial considering the wider gap that exists between Asian and Latinos’ population and their respective media representation compared to African Americans’ numbers.
Using the framework of proportion, USC’s Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity reveals that across the 309 episodes and 109 films they covered, 15% were directed by women (50% population), and 13% were directed by underrepresented racial/ethnic groups (38% non-white).
It makes sense that the percentage of on screen underrepresented characters increases (17.5%) when an underrepresented director is at the helm of a scripted episode or film.
I’m not sure what to make then of a recent phenomenon I have seen within the Latino community; an overwhelming desire/shift to tell stories UNRELATED to their Latino identity. Don’t get it twisted, I respect the artist’s prerogative and agree that just because you are from a certain ethnicity, you shouldn’t feel obligated to tell that ‘ethnic film’. But if the rationale is that in order to tell a universal story you can’t be ethnic specific, I totally take issue with that, and would argue on the contrary, we just haven’t done it enough to prove it’s not true. Along these puzzling but no less real lines, I was startled to read in the report, “As (female) power increases, female presence decreases. In film, television, and streaming executive ranks, 46.7% of Senior Vice President-level executives are female.” What’s up ladies?
Part of me gets it though, both artist and gatekeeper is faced with the obligation, pressure and responsibility to succeed in a business of mediated platforms. Unfortunately that usually means don’t stick your neck out, less risk. But what if we made it our goal to seize and create as many chances to allow ourselves to FAIL, at least as much as the rest get to, because that is how we get to the next level.
Okay enough rant! Here is my curated list of brand spanking new feature length fiction films written and directed by filmmakers in the US of A who have Mexican/Caribbean/Central/South American roots. Many of these films are in post-production but might be making their world premiere at a film festival or VOD later this year. As you can tell, some filmmakers clearly chose to tell a story from a specific Latino character/experience, while others drew from their culture in a more abstract, no less personal route. One thing is for sure though, each of these artists have been hustling their craft for years outside the studio system which is why you can see a distinct genre and aesthetic in their work. Make sure to check out the links to their previous work. It is one thing to say there we be underrepresented and quite another thing to be overlooked.
BETWEEN US written and directed by Rafael Palacio Illingworth
From Caviar Content, a multi media company that financed last year’s Diary of a Teenage Girl by Marielle Heller, comes this intense romance drama made by Mexico/Colombia raised AFI grad Rafael Palacio Illingworth. The film features two incredibly talented actors Olivia Thirlby (Juno) and Ben Feldman (Ginsberg in Mad Men!) as a couple navigating a tempestuous “post-honeymoon phase” while trying to hang on to the chemistry that first made them gravitate towards each other. Rafael starred in his own first film MACHO ( see here,) which like The Force, also tracked a relationship through the initial meet-cute high. Macho landed with IFC after premiering at the Raindance Film Festival in London in 2010. The film just announced its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Danny is two for two, his first and second films have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Raised in Virginia in a Cuban Catholic family, Danny cut his visual teeth while collaborating with avant garde music group, Animal Collective for years. His first film, Oddsac is in many ways a sensory album for the band. It screened in Sundance’s experimental New Frontier section in 2010. Taking his skills for phantasmagoric imagery and folding hyperreal narrative and social commentary Perez shot the wasteland USA set Antibirth which stars none other than the coolest indie queens, Natasha Lyonne and Chle Sevigny. The film got rave reviews, having premiered in the much talked about Midnight section at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. A film that’s been called “a debauched progeny of Cronenberg’s classic, The Brood, it has without a doubt the wildest, most bat-shit crazy ending I have ever seen. Must-watch. Stay tuned to hear where it lands more fests and distribution.
HEARTS OF PALM written and directed by Monica Peña
Following her first feature, the experimental street docu-fiction film, Ectotherms, which drew comparisons to Harmony Korine’s work, Monica Peña is back with her second feature, Hearts of Palm. The fable like film follows a romance en route to decay between two sentient beings. Peña brings to life her distinct vision with her previous collaborators Brad Lovett aka Dim Past who stars and is behind the sonic pulse of the film, and Jorge Rubiera, cinematographer who beams an otherworldly yet unmistakable Miami vibe. The Cuban American filmmaker is a Sundance Institute/Knight Fellow. Watch Ectotherms here. Hearts of Palm is world premiering at the upcoming Miami International Film Festival.
LUPE UNDER THE SUN written and directed by Rodrigo Reyes
Since the debut of his 2012 highly acclaimed and visual border documentary, Purgatorio, Rodrigo Reyes has been developing a number of projects, including this evocative tale called Lupe Under the Sun. Originally planned to be a documentary set in Merced, his hometown, Northern California, Reyes let the story evolve into a hybrid film about an old Mexican man who has spent his entire life working in the California fields. When he attempts to get back in touch with the family and life he left behind, he finds out that his absence did not stop them from moving on. Shot by Justin Chin, his D.P. on Purgatorio, the film casts a neorealist, tinge of black humor aided by the real world surroundings of the agricultural desert suburb. Lupe Under the Sun was selected to participate in IFP Narrative Lab last year and is expected to finish the film in 2016.
MARIGOLD THE MATADOR, written and directed by Kenneth Castillo
The prolific independent LA born and raised Chicano filmmaker, Kenny Castillo is currently finishing his 7th feature. Known for his popular short form series, The Misadventures of Cholo Chaplin which he is currently developing into animation, Castillo has since successfully specialized in urban films led by multi dimensional characters. Marigold the Matador focuses on a single mother from the perspective of an 11 year old girl who deals with her feelings of loneliness and isolation by imagining herself as a Matador in the world of the Day of the Dead. Most of the story was shot unscripted and the result is a very authentic and emotionally engaging film. He is currently raising funds to finish the film. The true blue indie filmmaker entrepreneur he is, you can head over to his website and buy a cool Cholo Chaplin shirt, check out his complete body of work, and donate to his film.
I only recently discovered the work of this enigmatic filmmaker who’s been lurking along the coolest fringes of art genre. Among his previous films, 2014’s moody verite, Shadow Zombie won a prize for best “documentary-sh” film at the renowned Chicago Underground Film Festival. Sisters of the Plague starring Josephine Deckker screened at last year’s New Orleans Film Festival and Outfest. Back in 2011 Jorge was the cinematographer on Jonathan Caouette’s Cannes documentary, Walk Away Renee. Yes , he also directs music videos, including this neat Modest Mouse Strangers to Ourselves track. The Puerto Rican born filmmaker has also produced and shot a number of random videos you can find on his Tumblr. Upcoming films include a documentary about the Slacker esque Athens, Georgia music scene called A Peculiar Noise, premiering at this year’s Atlanta Film Festival, and Fugue, which follows a woman (Sophie Traub) who wanders around an island lost and out of place. Having binged on his work recently I can safely say that he casts spells of mad intrigue and strange dream-state feels. Definitely an indie auteur you should know.
Michael Olmos goes family superhero action film in The Green Ghost, his 4th feature film. It is not surprising that Olmos is collaborating with Marco Zaror; back in 2006 Marko made noise in the Chilean street action thriller, Kiltro which premiered at LALIFF, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival headed by Michael’s father, Eddie Olmos. Michael’s underrated first film, Splinter in 2006 was shot on the streets of LA and displayed his stylish and gritty directing chops. Olmos went on to co-direct and produce the 2012 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Dramatic Competition film Filly Brown which catapulted Gina Rodriguez pre-Jane the Virgin. Zaror has many fans around the world having carved out for himself a string of martial arts action flicks, many of which have played Fantastic Fest where incidentally he and Michael sneaked some footage of the Green Ghost last year. The film is about a man having to overcome his insecurities to transform into a superhero and defeat the dangerous bruja Lechusa who plans to bring back the wrath of Moctezuma. Currently in post.
DADDY’S BOY written and directed by Daniel Armando
Daniel’s first feature What it Was made the Latino/LGBT film festival run. The story about an actor coming to terms with a recent family loss and her marriage breakup returns to her home in Brooklyn where she runs into an old college girlfriend. The film has raw verite scenes interlaced with poetic close up cinematic imagery. He has not one but two films premiering at this year’s Cinequest Film Festival next month. He directed a film called When I’m With You, and wrote and directed an erotic swoon and slow dance film, Daddy’s Boy which indulges in its queer cinema throwback and music interludes as it follows four young men behind the closed doors of a burlesque studio, shedding more than just their clothes and inhibitions. Daniel has said that he likes films that wander throughout space. He’s been quoted as saying, “A lot of my favorite films don’t feature characters like this, and I feel I have a responsibility as an artist of color to tell everyday stories from a perspective rarely seen.”
From the director of Big Ass Spider which played at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival, comes this supernatural action thriller, starring none other than 80s movies action icon, Dolph Lundgren. Mike Mendez, born to Salvadorean and Mexican family parents, born and raised in LA has been busy. After Big Ass Spider he did Lavalantula about giant lava spewing tarantulas. Last year he put together an anthology of scary shorts, Tales of Halloween directed by various filmmakers including Lucky McKee (2002’s May is one of my long time cult faves). Mendez doesn’t show any signs of slowing his roll which is a good thing for his loyal fans. His love for genre is evident in his filmmaking, and his action/horror genre is mixed with a pure sense of humor.
A real bi-cultural American who spent his formative years in between Lima, Peru and Lawrence, Kansas, Alonso Mayo first moved to LA to attend AFI where he made his thesis short film, Wednesday Afternoon. In 2013, Gravitas Ventures picked up his first feature, The Story of Luke starring Lou Taylor Pucci, Seth Green, Cary Elwes and Kristin Bauer. His sophomore effort, Frozen Peas is a funny and honest film about a husband and father to three kids finds himself in the throes of a masculinity panic attack when pressured by his wife to consider vasectomy.
To round up the list here are three special mentions of directorial debuts to watch coming soon; Bruising for Besos written and directed by Adelina Anthony, the queer chicana poet who wrote the story for one of my favorite short films, You’re Dead To Me. A critically acclaimed and beloved solo artist performer, she stars herself in Brusing as Yoli, a smooth talker whose game is put to the test in pursuit of romance. Varsity Punks written and directed by Anthony Solorzano is a high school comedy following a tight knit rambunctious cross country team shot in El Monte starring Efren Ramirez as the coach. H.O.M.E by Daniel Maldonado which is premiering a the Queens World Film Festival stars Jeremy Ray Valdez as a young man with Aspergers. See trailer for H.O.M.E. below.
Two transcendent nights in two pueblos magicos, (Valle de Bravo and Tepotzlan), hallucinating pulque, and an overdose of Mexican cinema at the Morelia Film Festival later, I’ve got a roundup of what and who you need to know in new Mexican Cinema (fiction), the 13th edition of the Festival (and my 8th consecutive year!), and whats to come in 2016.
While one of the biggest Mexican movie rockstars (no pun intended), Guillermo del Toro did not show up to Morelia’s Opening Night screening of his latest, La cumbre escarlata aka Crimson Peak, there were plenty of internationally acclaimed Mexican cinéastes present.
First, outside the festival’s competition, making their home turf Mexican premieres was young auteur David Pablos’ remarkable, bittersweet and bleak Tijuana set portrait, The Chosen Ones which premiered earlier this year in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard. A Canana production. Mundial handling sales. Yet to premiere in the U.S.A.
It was a family affair for the querido Cuarón clan at the festival. Oscar winning director Alfonso accompanied his son Jonas, along with his brother, Carlos. Jonás’ second feature, Desierto which premiered in Toronto and won the FIPRESCI award stars Gael García Bernal. The Mexico/U.S. border crossing story intends to imbue a “Hunger Games” type/hyper sensory action thriller approach but falls a bit short of that cool aim. STX, a new distributor led by producer Bob Simonds picked up North American rights. It is yet to screen in the U.S.
Raised in Mexico, Rodrigo García, who I had no idea until recently is the son of famed Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez which gives me another perspective and appreciation of the symbolic father/son relationship in his astral film, Last Days in the Desert, made his first long-awaited visit to the festival. The Ewan McGregor starrer, Emmanuel Lubezki shot film was picked up by Broad Green recently.
I missed two Mexican co-productions but thanks to AFI Film Festival will catch this coming week in LA. From Afar, a Venezuelan/Mexican co-production and first feature from Lorenzo Vigas which won Best Film at Venice Film Festival, and Chronicby Michel Franco which won Best Screenplay at Cannes is also making its U.S. premiere at AFI. Franco has been busy directing and producing through his shingle Lucia Films which also includes 600 Miles by Gabriel Ripstein, Mexico’s entry in the best foreign language film category at the 88th Academy Awards. Tim Roth stars in both Chronic and 600 Miles, and was in Morelia presenting them where he was given a tribute for his body of work which includes directing. Rumor has it he will be directing his next film in Mexico.
The competition was a bit more uneven than in previous years, comprised of a few fantastic films among many more average. But that has always been the tightrope walk; using the platform as a discovery of Mexican world premieres, and the necessity of including films in competition that come with built in word of mouth from having played abroad at prestigious festivals. In fact, 7 out of 10 films in the official feature fiction competition were world premieres. More so than in previous years and I applaud that direction as it’s a risky but one that should further consolidate its reputation of supporting Mexican filmmakers, as well as encourage more Mexican filmmakers to world premiere their features at home. 3 were first time feature filmmakers, 3 co-productions including 2 with Spain, 2 out of 10 directed by women, of which are the only films who have a female lead/role with the exception ofRodrigo Pla’s film, A Monster with a Thousand Heads.
Having seen all the films in competition – and for that matter many of this year’s Mexican films, I Promise you Anarchy by Julio Hernandez Cordon (Marimbas from Hell, Gasolina) stands out above the rest. A skater boy lovestory that is genre and gender bending, it’s played in all the big fests including Locarno, Toronto, San Sebastian. It’s his first film shot outside his country of Guatemala, in various exterior locations in Mexico City, and the first with a real budget. It took home an Honorable Mention at Morelia. I found each shot transfixing and saw depth and true emotion within the surreality of his narrative. Interior XII is behind the film, a film production company known for its risk-taking bent. Latido Films is handling rights, and the film is yet to premiere in the U.S. Hernandez Cordon is already at work developing his next film.
Among the world premieres, the magnetic The Pleasure is Mine by Elisa Miller, is for sure the discovery of the Morelia Film Festival in my mind. It was awarded with Best First or Second feature film (It’s her second). Co-starring Flor Edwarda Gurrola who I first saw in Plan Sexennal and newcomer Fausto Alzati who makes a “big” full frontal impression. Fernando Eimbcke (Duck Season, Lake Tahoe, Club Sandwich) and Christian Valdelievre produces. Playing with the male/female gaze through a female perspective, the arrested in sex lovestory is bound to have a bright future in the hippest festivals around the world
The Heirs is another world premiere worth mentioning. A second feature by Venezuelan Jorge Hernández Aldana, (Buffalo of the Night) featuring the kid actor in Güeros, Sebastián Aguirre. The performances and dynamic between characters are impressive, however the story itself, idle privileged youth who live reckless lives of impunity, feels like over-tread terrain. From Lucia Films and prolific film producer Alex Garcia.
I’d give honorable mention to Lucia Carreras’ The Greatest House in the World which premiered in Berlin earlier this year. Her first directorial debut screened a couple years ago at the festival, called Nos Vemos Papa, starring Cecilia Suarez. Her latest co-production is shot in Guatemala, A visually captivating film about a young girl who loses a sheep (read her innocence) it is a jewel of an art house film, and alongside Guatemalan feature Ixcancul by Jayro Bustamante and Hernandez Cordon’s previous films, propelling Guatemala on the film map as of late. Indeed, this year marks the first time Guatemala submits a film for the Academy’s foreign language entry.
Rodrigo Pla’s fourth feature, A Monster with a Thousand Heads, blasts on the bureaucracy and apathetically broken medical care system in Mexico. Taut, it gets right to the point, but it is not as compelling for me as his previous films.
The Best Film Award at Morelia Film Festival went to Matias Meyer’s world premiere (The Last Cristeros) for YO, about a mentally stunted overgrown teenager who lives with his mother, based on a short story by Jean-Marie Le Clezio. Film is handled by Figa Films. The film, like the lead, is touching but overly earnest and ambling.
People outside of Mexico see far more independent and art house Mexican cinema than people in Mexico because of limited exhibition platforms. One shining beacon in Mexico City is La Cineteca Nacional, a cinema palace with 10 theaters that programs year round classic and contemporary Mexican films. The country’s two major film output entities are Cinepolis the largest theater chain in Mexico with over 2500 screens (nearly half the market), and IMCINE, The National Film Institute. Per IMCINE’s film report, 130 Mexican films were produced in 2014 and 68 were released. Cinepolis has established their Sala de Arte, their designated documentary and arthouse theater inside their multiplexes, as well as begun to distribute films. Meanwhile IMCINE, which has long funded development and production, recently created a fund for distribution, so that Mexican independent fiction and documentary films can be seen. Still, because they are the corporate/government film monopolies in Mexico, some feel it is their responsibility to do much more. Yours truly moderated a panel with their new digital platforms CinepolisKlic, and FilminLatino. CinepolisKlic offers VOD of a variety of commercial national and international titles while FilminLatino (IMCINE) is a subscriber based platform with a very curated selection and cool editorial tone. Both are open for filmmakers to submit their films, regardless of whether its had a theatrical or festival premiere.
For far too long Mexican filmmakers have been overly influenced by european cinema- no doubt to appeal to international fests where sometimes its the only place their independent work has a chance to be seen. So I love it when I see filmmakers like Julio Hernandez Cordon, Nicolas Pereda, and Gerardo Naranjo creating original aesthetics and risk-taking narrative approaches. Thematically this year, there seems to be a thruline of simmering desperation, desire, and fighting for something aspirational, even if only for a brief respite…. before landing to reality and surrendering to the same old.
El FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE CINE DE MORELIA
Film Festival heads; President and Cinepolis CEO Alejandro Ramirez, Vice President, cultural ambassador and Architect, Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Batel, and the always eloquent and die-hard cinephile Festival Director Daniela Michel are super involved and present every day/night hosting their guests and introducing films. They elevated the quality of intros and q&a’s at the festival along with Festival Programmer and filmmaker (and for many years the head of production for the festival) Daniela Alatorre, who framed context and created rich dialogue around the documentary screenings. Although it was rumored that Hurricane Patricia scared away some attendees, the festival seemed to have more special guests and industry presence than ever. Sundance Institute’s Artist Services engineered a popular workshop which included a 101 with Dan Schoenbrun from Kickstarter, a conversation with doc master Ondi Timoner and a conversation with SXSW head, Janet Pierson. This year also marked an alliance between Locarno’s Industry Academy and Morelia Film Festival, focused on developing professionals working in international sales, marketing, distribution, exhibition, and programming. The Festival broke its attendance record reaching 40,000 filmgoers per Alejandro Ramirez at the Closing Night Ceremony.
TRANSCENDENT NATURE OF CINEMATOGRAPHY
I had not seen any of Thai auteur darling Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films before until now (sigh). Truth be told I only went to see Cemetery of Splendour because it was shot by a Mexican. Cinematographer Diego Garcia (Without, Fogo), who alongside the high profile company of Emmanuel Lubezki aka El Chivo, represent exceptional Latin American cinematographers doing incredible work in and outside of Mexico. I also would include Maria Secco, Sebastian Hiriart and Lorenzo Hagerman among them. Garcia’s latest film is Neon Bull by brazilian filmmaker Gabriel Mascaro, also showing at this week’s AFI Film Festival.
Garcia is shooting Carlos Reygadas next film which starts filming next week and throughout all of next year. We can also expect very soon the new film by Amat Escalante. The Untamed just finished shooting in his home state of Guanajuato. It is produced by Nicolas Celis, a young intrepid producer with impeccable taste in projects he takes on. He is also the producer of first feature, female directed Easter by Alejandra Márquez which world premiered at Toronto. It will be making its Mexican premiere in competition at the Los Cabos Film Festival which starts in a couple weeks, November 11-15. There is some overlap of Mexican films between Morelia and the 4th edition of Los Cabos Film Festival. Among Los Cabos’ world premieres, I’m excited to see Marcelino Islas Hernández new film, Charity. He made a very small and touching film called Martha back in 2010. I’m also curious about You’ll Know What to do with Meby Katina Medina Mora. It will be her directorial feature debut. She has worked as 1st AD on several awesome films like Gerardo Naranjo’s Voy a Explotar, the Gael Garcia Bernal directed Deficit and festival darling Cochochi.
WATCH OUT FOR – FILMS IN POST
Aside from Escalante and Reygadas, there are a few hotly anticipated First features which will be ready to premiere in 2016. I’m so glad to have gotten the chance to see a cut of Zeus by multi media artist Miguel Calderon in Morelia’s Work in Progress, Impulso section. The film has an unnerving, escalating tension between a young man and his mother, and unique visual allegory. The film is produced by Christian Valdelievre, and was developed and supported by Sundance Institute’s international Feature Film Program. Also currently in post, first fiction feature Pan American Machinery by Joaquin del Paso, produced by Mantarraya. And one of my favorite filmmakers of the world (for reals), somebody who draws outside any prescribed doc and fiction lines, Nicolas Pereda, has a new project called The Heart of the Sky.
To see the full list of winners at the Morelia Film Festival click here. If you missed it, do not fret! You can see great interviews by film critic and friend, Anne Wakefield with Stephen Frears, Rodrigo Garcia, Tim Roth, Peter Greenaway and more on the festival’s YouTube channel. Also, right now until November 15 you can check out some of the short films in competition here! Many short film filmmakers who go on to screen their feature debuts at the festival as well as already well established, compete in the short film competition. Speaking of which one of my favorites (not online yet) was Boy at the Bar Masturbates with Fury and Self Assurance by new wave queer film cineaste, Julian Hernandez. Check out the trailer:
Don’t think I forgot the Mexican documentary treasures! The award for Best Documentary at Morelia went to 25 year old Mazatlan female director, Betzabe Garcia for Kings of Nowhere. The film was developed and supported with a post production grant from Ambulante and had its world premiere at SXSW earlier this year where it won the Audience Award.
Stay tuned for a Mexican documentary round up post, my experience at the first ever Mexican Film Residency, and my visit to the extraordinary Splendor Omnia studios, Carlos Reygadas’ hidden jewel of a post production studio compound in the magical village of Tepotzlan.