Brunch is usually a time for casual conversations, all-you-can-drink mimosas, and a relaxed weekend meal. Or, so I thought. Bring together a group of Latino media-makers and the conversation eventually turns to Hollywood's lack of diverse stories.
Last weekend a group of my friends did just that. Some are directors, actors, producers, editors or writers; others some combination/hyphenate form of the five. A mimosa-fueled, heated debate ensued: when it comes to Hollywood, is it a waste of time to wait around for big studios to hear our demands and make changes? Should we just stop complaining and make our own content?
It's a valid argument but one I don't agree with. I get that our complaining can often fall on deaf ears. Studios won't change until they see dollar signs. They certainly won't do it out of the goodness of their heart. Sitting by idly and hoping they will listen obviously isn't the solution.
We absolutely should make our own content. That's what this column is all about, supporting films made by and about Latinos. The two things don't have to be mutually exclusive; we can complain and create. We should simultaneously speak up and hold Hollywood accountable for their stereotypical depictions of Latinos, demand that they make films that accurately depict us, and produce media ourselves.
I am absolutely positive that after the recent success of Eugenio Derbez's Spanish-language film Instructions Not Included studio heads are scrambling to find the next Latino box office hit. This is nothing new. In the early 2000s after Y tu mama tambien and Amores Perros burst onto the scene distribution companies were instantly receptive to Latin American and Latino films. But when a box office slump followed and Latino movies were no longer bankable the doors that suddenly opened were just as quickly shut. That's why it's up to us to challenge Hollywood stereotypes and create our own films independently. Then every decade or so when the studios come looking for Latino projects we'll be ready.
Making an independent film is not easy. It takes a village and lots of support. All you Latino filmmakers make sure to read on. Don't miss this opportunity to apply for an important program aimed at mentoring Latino screenwriters and a chance to have your finished film broadcast on national television.
Latino Screenwriting Project
WHAT: The 2014 Latino Screenwriting Project, organized with consulting support from the Sundance Institute, is a 3-day workshop designed to support emerging U.S. based Latino screenwriters and filmmakers working on independent feature narrative screenplays. Four screenwriters will be selected to participate in a 3-day intensive workshop that will include panels, screenings and one-on-one feedback sessions under the mentorship of Sundance Lab Advisors. If selected, travel and housing will be provided.
WHO: Sponsored by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio, Texas, the workshop will take place from February 26th through March 1st during the 36th Annual CineFestival, the nation's oldest Latino film festival.
MISSION: The mission of the Latino Screenwriting Project is to support emerging Latino screenwriters and to elevate the presence, representation and quality of stories that narrate the U.S. Latino experience. The project aims to provide these screenwriters with a network of support and a practical environment where they can get quality feedback, mentoring and inspiration to further hone their craft, polish their screenplays and take their stories to the next level.
HOW TO APPLY: The conference is only open to U.S.-based Latino filmmakers. Additionally, the screenplay must be written, primarily, in English. The applicant should have no more than one feature film to their credit either as a writer or director. Send all application materials via email to: Jim Mendiola, CineFestival Director hidalgo12 [AT] aol [DOT] com and Cruz Angeles, Latino Screenwriters Project Co-Director cruzangeles [AT] gmail [DOT] com. For further information: facebook.com/
Nu Point of View: The Emerging Latino Filmmakers ShowcaseWHAT: Nu Point of View: The Emerging Latino Filmmakers Showcase offers the opportunity for independent Latino writers, directors and producers to submit their original works to a nationally televised and digital platform: NUVOtv. In addition to the chance to air their film on national television, all selected feature filmmakers will also receive a licensing fee of up to $3,000. The television program will include celebrity host wrap-arounds and "filmmaker vignettes" that take place in the writer, director, or producer's hometown as they introduce their film and the inspiration behind it, among other things.
WHO: NUVOtv is a national English-language network for Latinos that recently partnered with Jennifer Lopez to produce original multicultural programming.
HOW TO APPLY: Accepting feature films, documentaries, animations, music videos and short films that are in English. Looking for a Latino angle whether it involves a Latino writer, director or producer, actor or storylines relevant to the Modern Latino. For details and to apply: filmfest.mynuvotv.com
DEADLINE: November 13, 2014
Written by Vanessa Erazo. 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.