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The New York Latino Film Festival returns to the Bronx with virtual and in-person screenings 

Returning to The Bronx, the Festival will kick-off this year’s Latino Heritage Month festivities with drive-in, in-person and virtual experiences. 

The New York Latino Film Festival (NYLFF), the nation’s premier Latino film festival returns to The Bronx (100 East 151st Street, The Bronx, NY) from September 14 to 19, 2021 with an impressive roster of 102 films from more than 12 countries, the largest number of films to date. NYLFF’s opening night, presented by the Motion Picture Association, will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film Raising Victor Vargas (2002, 88 min., USA), featuring screening and cast reunion. 

NYLFF opening night will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film Raising Victor Vargas with screening and cast reunion. (Photo via NYLFF)

The New York Latino Film Festival is the premier Urban Latino film event in the country. Founded by Calixto Chinchilla in 1999, it aims to produce culturally relevant and entertaining experiences that build audiences for Latino cinema, support the film community with professional development and foster relationships for Latino talent. Programming includes the flagship film festival in New York City, competition programs and community programs.

“Diversity and inclusion remain at the forefront of NYLFF’s mission. For more than 20 years, we have demonstrated the importance of these values through the renowned festival, the Futuro Digital Conference, our marketing agency, and other partnerships that have offered a critical platform for Latino talent and filmmakers. Gracias to WarnerMedia and our many partners who, year after year, have demonstrated their support for stories by us and for us,” said Calixto Chinchilla, Founder of NYLFF.

NYLFF

The Festival will kick-off this year’s Latino Heritage Month festivities with drive-in, in-person and virtual experiences. (Photo via nylatinofilmfestival)

Festival Highlights 

The week-long festival will feature a mix of virtual screenings and in-person viewings, showcasing some of the best Latino talent in film. 

“We are proud to support this year’s return of the NY Latino Film Festival to the Bronx, home to NYC’s largest population of Latinos,” said the Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, Anne del Castillo. “This celebration of cinema showcases the broad diversity of stories and talent from the Latino filmmaking community.”

Closing night will feature La Soga 2, directed by Manny Perez. (Photo via NYLFF)

The closing night film, straight from its World Premiere at The Toronto Film Festival, La Soga 2, (2021, 92 min., USA) the highly anticipated sequel written and directed by Manny Perez makes its U.S. premiere at the festival. Former hitman La Soga (Manny Perez), fights to rescue the love of his life while confronting his inner demons and violent past that keep calling him. 

Making its world premiere, All the World is Sleeping (2021, 111 min., USA), directed by Ryan Lacen, and starring Melissa Barrera (In the Heights) & Jackie Cruz (Orange Is the New Black). A Chicana in New Mexico sinks deeper into her addiction in this unique, cerebral, and chaotic view of the growing drug epidemic. 

NYLFF, Samland, film

Samland (2021, 87 min., USA) written and directed by Juan Pablo Reyes. (Photo via NYLFF)

Samland (2021, 87 min., USA) written and directed by Juan Pablo Reyes, finds a man and woman and love in the oddest of places on their journey to find the ever-elusive “American Dream.” John Leguizamo returns to NYLFF with the US premiere of the white-knuckle drama set in Colombia, Dark Blood (2021, 83 min., USA). The Spanish-language film, directed by Harold Trampetero, follows a father imprisoned after committing a brutal revenge crime. 

HBO Max will close out the festival with Moving Pa’lante! a free outdoor event that will feature a live performance by reggaeton star Justin Quiles and “concert salas,” where guests can check out HBO Max’s collection of exclusive Latin music specials. The evening will also include DJ’s, poets, food trucks, games, and local business vendors.

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“I am thrilled to once again commemorate Latino Heritage Month by welcoming the New York Latino Film Festival to The Bronx,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “Film is something that unites us globally, and throughout the pandemic, many relied on film and the arts as a form of both expression and entertainment. As our borough and our city recover, I want to thank the organizers of the New York Latino Film Festival for debuting these wonderful works of art celebrating our customs, our culture, and our history, this Latino Heritage Month in our great borough.”

Info & Tickets:

NYLATINOFILMFESTIVAL.COM

Follow NYLFF on Facebook (@NYLatinoFilm), Instagram (@NYLatinoFilmFestival), and Twitter (@NYLFF). #NYLFF

NBCU Academy announces recipients of inaugural ‘Original Voices’ Fellowship to support diverse filmmakers

NBCU Academy and NBC News Studios together named seven groundbreaking filmmakers for the first inaugural Original Voices fellowship early last week. From a diverse range of backgrounds, each documentarian will receive $45,000 in grants and a one-year fellowship to support their feature-length nonfiction films in all stages of production, including access to archival research, individually tailored yearlong mentorship, story and edit consultations, distribution strategy discussions, marketing and publicity guidance, production resources, and exposure to NBC News Studios’ executives and journalists.

This year’s inaugural cohort represents a diverse group of filmmakers telling diverse and inclusive stories. In an age where authentic representation and visibility in media for minority groups matters more than ever, this push by NBCU Academy and NBC New Studios to support diverse filmmakers and bring their stories to the mainstream media is incredibly important. Projects from this first cohort include coming-of-age stories that transcend borders, tales of bravery and courage in the face of institutional corruption, accounts of nascent parenthood and belonging, and films that explore Blackness, Latinx identity, immigration, gender, disability, and more.  

“We are so excited to work with seven incredibly gifted, original voices who are committed to highlighting some of the most important social issues of our time,” said Yvette Miley, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for NBCUniversal News Group. “The lived-experiences of these fellows provide a unique foundation for powerful storytelling.”

Meet the Original Voices fellowship recipients and their projects 

Original Voices Fellowship, Hummingbirds

A still from Hummingbirds. (Image Source)

Hummingbirds, Directed by Silvia Castaños, Estefania Contreras, Miguel Drake McLaughlin, Diane Ng, Ana Rodriguez-Falco, Jillian Schlesinger, Produced by Leslie Benavides, Miguel Drake McLaughlin, Ana Rodriguez-Falco, Jillian Schlesinger 

In a collaborative coming-of-age film, inseparable best friends Silvia and Beba emerge at night to escape the cruel summer heat of their Texas border town, wandering empty streets in search of inspiration, adventure, and a sense of belonging. When forces beyond their control threaten their shared dreams and they are faced with an uncertain future, they take a stand and hold onto what they can—the moment and each other.

I Didn’t See You There, Directed by Reid Davenport, Produced by Keith Wilson 

Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into an unflinching meditation on freakdom, (in)visibility, and the pursuit of individual agency. Shot entirely from his literal physical perspective, both from his wheelchair and his two feet, the filmmaker’s gaze and thoughts oscillate between how he is seen, his distant family, and whether his films have fallen into the legacy of the Freak Show.

Original Voices Fellowship

Bloodthicker director, Zac Manuel. (Image Source)

Bloodthicker, Directed by Zac Manuel, Produced by Chris Haney

A coming-of-age documentary about three childhood friends navigating adulthood while living in the shadows of their famous fathers. Filmed over 4 years, the film is an intimate portrait of how three young musicians come to define themselves in the presence and absence of their fathers.

La Flaca, Directed by Jessica Chermayeff and Ana Veselic, Produced by Alba Jaramillo 

A teenager’s flight from Honduras through Central America suddenly snaps into focus when she gives birth on US soil — launching an epic coming-of-age tale of assimilation in America.

Untitled, Directed by Sura Malluoh, Produced by Laura Poitras and Yoni Golijov, Cinematography by Jason D’Souza

Two friends uncover a conflict that divides their already embattled community. Told from all sides, with unprecedented access to courtrooms, anonymous sources and community leaders, this observational film unfolds in real time.

Original Voices Fellowship

A still from Original Voices Fellowship project, MIJA. (Image source)

MIJA, Directed by Isabel Castro, produced by Tabs Breese and Yesenia Tlahuel

Doris Muñoz is an ambitious music manager whose undocumented family depends on her ability to discover aspiring pop stars. Mija dives into the world of a young woman and a community of first-generation musicians that are hustling harder than anyone because “making it” isn’t just a dream—it’s a necessity.

Untitled, Directed by Michael Premo, Produced by Rachel Falcone 

The Original Voices fellows were selected by a distinguished jury of three independent, critically acclaimed documentary filmmakers: Dawn Porter, Nanfu Wang and Cristina Costantini. Jeanelle Augustin is Manager, Film Fellowships and Artist Development overseeing the curation and design of the Original Voices fellowship. 

“These independent filmmakers embody creativity, integrity and inclusivity — core qualities that make for a great storyteller,” said Molly O’Brien, Head of Documentary, NBC News Studios. “NBC News Studios, along with the jury, are proud to support the fellows and help bring their directorial vision to life.” 

You might be interested: How Arylin Martínez Cora is empowering fellow Latinx Filmmakers through nonprofit

NBCU Academy is a new, innovative, multiplatform journalism training and development program launched by NBCUniversal News Group. The initiative provides four-year university and community college students scholarships, education, on-campus training, online programming, funding for accredited journalism programs and access to world-class journalists from NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo. Currently, NBCU Academy is partnered with 17 academic universities, community colleges and institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions and colleges with significant Latino, Asian American and Pacific Islander, Black, Indigenous and tribal populations – reaching students from underrepresented groups including those from diverse racial, ethnic, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, economic, and geographic backgrounds.

NBC News Studios is a division of NBC News that specializes in documentary storytelling. Working with Studios offers producers and filmmakers access to everything our legacy news organization has to offer: eight decades of TV and radio archive; a global network of journalists; and rich trove of stories. Our team has decades of experience in the TV and documentary worlds and has been honored with multiple Emmy, Peabody and DuPont awards. Our recent collaboration with Focus Features, Dawn Porter’s The Way I See It, was the highest rated non-news program in MSNBC’s 25-year history and the winner of the best documentary feature at the New York Film Critics Online awards.

How Arylin Martínez Cora is empowering fellow Latinx Filmmakers through nonprofit

Arilyn Martínez Cora is an entrepreneur, educator, and filmmaker from Puerto Rico. She is the Founder/Director of the Latino Film Market Inc. (LFM), a non-profit that provides information about film distribution to Latinx filmmakers since its start in 2017. She has also been producing and directing films in the U.S and her native country for almost a decade.   Her passion is promoting and informing the community about the Latinx entertainment world in film, television and online platforms. 

Latino film, filmmaker, film, film festival

Arilyn Martínez Cora with fellow Latino filmmakers (Photo courtesy Arilyn Martínez Cora)

Lack of Latino representation in the film industry 

filmmaker, Latino film

Arilyn Martínez Cora, founder of Latino Film Market. (Photo courtesy Arilyn Martínez Cora)

Arylin has always loved the world of film and theater. She holds two Bachelor’s degrees, one in Theatre Arts from the University of Puerto Rico, and the second one in Film Production from Brooklyn College, New York City. She also has a Masters degree in Marketing from the University of Phoenix. 

Through all her studies, she had the opportunity to attend many educational events about filmmaking and navigating the financial side of the film industry. However, Arylin soon noticed that she barely saw any Latinos at these events. 

“The ones that I saw, I could count with my hands and still have free fingers, ‘you can imagine,’” says Arylin. 

On top of this issue, Arylin also noticed that many filmmakers were struggling to get their films viewed and distributed, even after being accepted to film festivals. 

“I was going to Brooklyn College doing a second bachelors in filmmaking and I started to realize that many of the films after going to film festivals, if they were accepted, would end up on a hard drive or on a youtube channel that nobody would watch,” says Arylin. 

The lack of networking opportunities for these filmmakers and the lack of Latino representation and educational resources inspired Arylin to take action and do something about these issues. 

Launching the Latino Film Market 

Latino film, filmmaker, film, film festival

Arilyn Martínez Cora at an event with fellow Latino filmmakers (Photo courtesy Arilyn Martínez Cora)

After graduating from Brooklyn College, Arylin worked in the film industry, gaining experience on many films, and decided to “go for it” and start the Latino Film Market. The LFM first began as an event along with Laura Rosado, Luz Ahmed, Bernardo Palombo from El Taller Latino Americano and many others.

The Latino Film Market event was a success. “So many people attended,” says Arylin. The positive response to the event pushed Arylin to expand the LFM. “I decided to move forward and build the nonprofit.” 

Now, the Latino Film Market is a woman-run 502c3 non-profit that provides information and resources to Latinx filmmakers. Through the LFM, Arylin has helped sell five short-films and one feature film: El Buen Vassallo, Azul, I Will Not Forget You, among others. 

One of the biggest struggles for Arylin early on in the process of building the nonprofit was finding funding. However, she says, “With time and planning I have been able to raise money with my team for the events. I have a great team member that was able to provide expertise and help us to grow, his name is George Luis Acevedo.”  

Throughout her journey as an entrepreneur, Arylin has surrounded herself with great mentors and experts. She says one of her biggest strengths has been to learn to listen and allow the experts to do their work. 

Latino film, filmmaker, film

Latino filmmakers on set working on a project. (Photo courtesy Arilyn Martínez Cora)

“No micromanaging,” she says, “but let people work and be happy bringing what they know, allowing the process to develop very well.  For example we have an annual film festival called Latino Film Market and we have been working with Erika Sanchez for two years. She brings marketing ideas, we agree, then she works her magic.” 

Arylin has developed an understanding of what is important and what she should bring to the Latino community. Her goal is always to keep empowering and educating women and Latinx filmmakers. 

“For me succeeding is to be able to keep educating the community about film distribution and also to provide a platform for filmmakers and artists that don’t have the opportunity. That way they can learn how to develop a path and become financially sustainable with their talent,” Arylin says. 

Latino Film Market event. (Photo courtesy Arilyn Martínez Cora)

From their film festival to networking events to film screenings and workshops, the Latino Film Market is providing resources to aid Latinx filmmakers and facilitate a space for filmmakers who are eager to network, and acquire the knowledge and tools necessary to promote and distribute their content. At LFM events, there are more Latinos than can be counted on just one hand. It’s a space where the Latino community is included as the main topic. 

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Going for your dreams: “Develop a plan and make it happen” 

Arylin is dedicated to empowering women and Latinos through education and media. She saw a problem and did something to make a change. In addition to her work with the LFM, she has co-produced the TV show special Empowering Women In Media Panel—a collaboration with the company Girl Love Yourself Now and Manhattan Neighborhood Network and supports Latino film projects and storytelling from the women’s perspective. She also has worked as an artist teacher and a professor for Reel Works and Boricua College. 

Latino film, filmmaker, film

Arilyn Martínez Cora on set with filmmakers and crew. (Photo courtesy Arilyn Martínez Cora)

Another highlight of her career thus far was collaborating with Sundance. 

“Being able to do an event in collaboration with Sundance–one of the best film festivals of the world–was amazing. Teaching a class about film distribution to the Latinx community, that does not have the resources, was very inspiring and the community responded very well,” said Arylin. 

All of these dreams would not have been possible if Arylin had not acted on her dreams. To other aspiring women looking to start a business or make career change, Arylin says, “Just do it. Develop a plan and make it happen. Try to find a way to stay motivated throughout the days that are less productive. Write a to do list and at least to accomplish one task a day. Allow yourself to fail and find members that would help you to build your business.  Find mentors that are able to educate you. Take classes and put in practice everything that you learn.” 

Currently, Arylin is working on her next dream: developing a web series and a documentary. 

For more information on the Latino Film Market, how to submit your work, or volunteer visit: latinofilmmarket.org