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LatinoBuzz: Boricuas on the Set! A Look at the International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival

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by Juan Caceres
November 13, 2013 12:30 PM
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The International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival (IPRHFF) kicks off Wednesday Nov. 13th in Nueva York City celebrating the best in Boricua filmmaking. Opening with crowd-pleaser El Clown, IPRHFF started just 3 years ago to pay tribute to the legacy of Puerto Ricans, they have a steady roster of films showcasing “pioneering, historically significant films and documentaries, contemporary shorts and features, and other innovative films”. This years spokesperson is no other Rockaway Beach native, Lauren Velez (Dexter). While the festival is still in its young stages and some of these films have been in release (and some shot years ago) it's still a treat for those yet to discover them. LatinoBuzz picked out some of our faves.

Babygirl, (81 minutes)
Director: Macdara Vallely
Producer: Alan Maher, R. Paul Miller, Felix Werner, Kathrin Werner

Set in the Bronx, Babygirl is a bitter-sweet drama about teenager LENA who, since she can remember, has watched her mom LUCY squander her life on a series of deadbeat men. When VICTOR, her mom’s latest boy toy, starts hitting on her Lena sets up an elaborate honey-trap, hoping to show her mom what a scumbag the guy really is. But the plan backfires. Trapped in a twisted love-triangle between Victor and her mom, Lena finally realizes that the only way out is to stand up and finally confront some difficult home truths. Baby girl premiered at last years Tribeca where lead actress Yainis Ynoa was greatly acclaimed but oddly enough the film didn't get the festival attention it deserved, it did get a limited release.

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El Clown , (105 minutes)
Director: Pedro Adorno, Emilio Rodriguez
Producer: Emilio Rodriguez

El Clown, Emilio Rodriguez and Pedro Adorno’s tale of a circus clown’s rise to stardom as a pitchman, tracks the erosion of creativity through corporate branding with a healthy dose of absurdism. Pic’s sly portrait of the artist as a conflicted clown is rich in the meticulous craftsmanship it celebrates, its consummate slapstick deflating any overwrought Pagliacci operatics or facile art-vs.-commerce preciousness. Intelligent crowd-pleaser reps a rousing triumph for the burgeoning Puerto Rican film industry and, with savvy handling, could conjure a niche for itself under the indie big top. —Variety

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Lemon , (85 minutes)
Director: Laura Brownson, Beth Levinson
Producer: Dan Cogan, Stan Lathan, Russell Simmons

Three-time felon. One-time Tony award winner. Lemon Andersen is a pioneering poet whose words speak for a generation. But Lemon has landed back in the ‘hood, living in the projects with thirteen family members and desperate for a way out. So he turns to the only thing he has left, his pen and his past. In this intricately crafted documentary, Lemon follows one man’s harrowing journey to bring his life story to the stage while battling the demons from his past.

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Read our interview with Lemon Andersen HERE

Machetero , (99 minutes)
Director: Vagabond Beaumont
Producer: Vagabond Beaumont

Post 9/11 definitions, ideas and notions of terrorism are challenged in this highly controversial and experimental film. Machetero is an allegorical narrative that follows French journalist Jean Dumont played by Isaach de Bankolé (The Keeper, Ghost Dog, Coffee and Cigarettes, Mandalay) to a New York prison where he interviews Pedro Taino a so called “Puerto Rican Terrorist” played by Not4Prophet (lead singer of the Puerto Punk band RICANSTRUCTION). Pedro is a self-described Machetero fighting to free Puerto Rico from the yoke of United States colonialism. He is obsessed with freedom, freedom for his country, his people and for himself. Jean questions Pedro about his decisions to use violence as a means to achieve that freedom. As Jean and Pedro speak, another story unfolds. A ghetto youth played by Kelvin Fernandez (in his first starring role) grows up in the ghetto streets and crosses paths with Pedro. Pedro sees potential in the ghetto youth and reawakens a revolutionary spirit instilled in from childhood by a mentor in Puerto Rico.

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Read our interview with Vagabond Beaumont HERE

For their roster and schedule check them out HERE

Written by Juan Caceres. LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow @LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook.

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