Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) is ramping up for its 14th
Annual Conference this weekend and to my great gusto, the discourse promises to
be more specific, relevant and fresh than last year on how to empower Latino
independent storytellers. Judging by the practical and forward-thinking panel
discussions, NALIP’s YouTube channel premiering a curated selection of upcoming
films, and the hip, savvy talent invited to represent, NALIP is setting the
tone for discovery and healthy debate. Chief
among the themes will be a contextualized creative response to the much-propagated
Latino trillion dollar purchasing power statistic, and how to strategically seize
territorial claim to the wild wild west expansion of online distribution
Among the established
and rising American Latino actors and filmmakers on tap are Richard Montoya, Cristina
Ibarra, Aurora Guerrero, Gina Rodriguez, Danny Trejo, Jeremy Ray Valdez, and
Jesse Garcia. The keynote speech on
Friday will be given by none other than Richard Peña, one of the most
influential film curators in the world who headed the prestigious Film Society
of Lincoln Center for twenty-five years.
It will be an insightful and thoughtful conversation moderated by the sensitive,
master documentarian and MacArthur Genius Grant fellow, Natalia Almada. As this year’s NALIP Conference Co-Chair,
Almada helped inform the direction of the conference and scored Peña’s
participation. When talking about how
each year’s conference organically takes shape with the feedback of board
members, staff and hosting committee, Beni Matias, Acting Executive Director
of NALIP, referenced Natalia’s concern of prominently featuring the voice of
the independent filmmaker over the commercial as a guiding pursuit.
involvement with NALIP goes back to 2003 when she became the recipient of the Estela
Award, given in recognition to an emerging filmmaker who has ‘arrived’. Her revelatory
documentaries include El Velador, El General and Al Otro Lado – all which have
been critically acclaimed worldwide and have been featured in museums and screened
at film festivals including Sundance and Director’s Fortnight at the Cannes
Film Festival. I asked her to share a few words about NALIP’s import and she
replied over email, “I think that more than anything else the conference is a
place where we can really exchange ideas, address shared concerns in our
community and collectively fuel to keep going”.
part of the sub-cine filmmaking crew who came of age through NALIP like
Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera and Bernardo Ruiz. In fourteen years the
organization has managed to be one of the few consistent Latino forums that has
nurtured a family of artists/active organizers.
Along with Beni Matias, Maria Agui Carter, who is a filmmaker and the Chair of the Board of
Directors, has been actively with NALIP since the beginning. Other members who have continued with the
organization since the beginning include Louis Perego Moreno who use to
spearhead chapter leadership meetings, Jimmy Mendiola filmmaker and Director of
CineFestival in San Antonio, Frank Gonzalez from Disney/ABC, Kim Meyers and
Terri Lopez at WGA, Alex Nogales, to name just a few. NALIP has also enjoyed a
sustained relationship with Time Warner and HBO who have taken turns at being
the presenting partners of the conference since 2000.
Part of the reason I’m so eager to
engage with and synthesize this year’s theme is this following text written by Maria Agui Carter to describe the Opening Plenary:
“Forbes magazine has called the Latino Market the “New
Media Jackpot.” What is at stake? Why is every network and cable outlet now
chasing the Latino market and how are Latino voices participating in this explosion
not just as consumers but as creators?
There it is: “But
as creators”. Amid all the
hoopla over the rising Latino market data that makes corporations and brands
salivate at the mouth over how to exploit us as consumers, nobody has thought about
reckoning a counter creative force. We should be imagining how to
harness, demand and unleash our creative power with that kind of purchasing
power. Otherwise, the data simply makes
us a target of a branding attack towards the depletion of our capital power and
A programming change for this
year and aimed to provide a more significant showcase for upcoming Latino films,
NALIP is spotlighting brand new films on their NALIP YouTube channel. They’ve done away with the NALIPsters On View
programming where members could openly screen their work during the
conference. Those screening rooms tended
to be lightly attended since there was little visibility and competition from
the panel programming. Instead, this year NALIP will be premiering trailers of
upcoming films to build buzz around them.
The curated selection of fifteen new documentaries, narrative features
and shorts will become available on Thursday, June 6.
doubt, the most anticipated happening of this year’s conference will be the
NALIP and Sundance Institute screening of Richard Montoya’s debut feature film,
Water & Power at the AMC CityWalk.
The impact and influence of this Chicano icon will be evident by the
droves of fans, tentacle network of familia and homies, a wide range of community
activists, artists, politicians who will be in attendance and who might reflect
the young and old blood of the characters he writes. I listed W&P as number one in my top five
movies to watch out for in 2013 so I’m thrilled to see it screen this way. Richard Peña will moderate a Q&A with
Montoya after the screening. I couldn’t
think of a better filmmaker and moderator pairing.
at the Awards Gala, Machete Kills star Danny Trejo, the menacing but
actually sweet hood actor will be presented with a Lifetime Achievement
Award. Aurora Guerrero, filmmaker of
Mosquita y Mari will be honored with the Estela Award that comes with a $7500
grant from McDonalds. And in what will surely be an emotionally
inspiring moment, the first ever La Lupe Award will be bestowed to Gina
Rodriguez. Her effervescence completely
evokes the spitfire tenacity of the late great Lupe Ontiveros. I couldn’t think of a more perfect homage and
passing of the torch.
While I found
last year’s panel topics all over the place, this year it feels more targeted
and practical. Panels like Beyond The
Latino Market: Getting Your Film Out To A Wider Audience with Gabriel Reyes, Writing
on Latino Cinema (a panel LatinoBuzz, Latin Heat and yours truly will be
participating on!), Whatever It Takes: DIY
Technology and the Democratization of Content Creation, and Entertainment
Industry Writer Development Programs, all feature legit, intrepid filmmakers
and industry sharing resources.
On Sunday the Closing Plenary
will be Latinos and Media Stereotypes in which Natalia Almada, Richard Montoya,
Aurora Guerrero, Yancey Arias will be participating, moderated by Mandalit del
Barco of NPR. These are all highly experienced
opinionated individuals with distinct tastes so I expect this one to be one of
the livelier talks. Overall, this year’s
NALIP conference feels like a live one and just about to go off.
Spotlight on the Trillion Dollar Latino Market will take place June 7-9 at the Universal
For a full list of speakers and panels
here available at http://conference2013.nalip.org/conference/keynotes-speakers/
**Update** Maria Agui Carter will replace Aurora Guerrero as participant on the Latino Stereotypes panel.