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.
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.
Also in the U.S. Documentary Competition
DINA directed by Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles
BEATRIZ AT DINNER directed by Miguel Arteta
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.
LEMON written and directed by Janicza Bravo
In the Shorts Competition
KAIJU BUNRAKU directed by Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva
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.
GOOD CRAZY written and directed by Rosa Salazar
In the newly minted, Short Form Episodic
GENTIFIED written and directed by Marvin Lemus
VICTOR Y ISOLINA by William Caballero
In the New Frontier (the future) section
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.