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Latinas Make Movies

Latinas Make Movies

Latinas Make Movies

by Andrea Meyer

“The Hispanic Community is underserved in terms of product,” says Rita
Moreno, grande dame of the silver screen and one of our most renowned
show-biz Latinas. Quoting a New York Times article by Bernard Weinraub,
Moreno points out that ticket sales for Hispanic movie-goers went up 22%
in 1997, making Hispanics the fastest growing sector of the film-going
public. And yet they are dismally underrepresented in the industry. She
cites a Hollywood exec’s claim that it takes time for the industry to
catch up with this kind of movement. “It takes time to catch up to
what’s happening?” Moreno marvels. “You know what I say? As we say in
Puerto Rico — caca de toro. Or as they say in the barrio —
Bullcheet.” The crowd went wild.

Rita Moreno was one of the hosts, along with Nancy Savoca and Rosie
Perez, of “Latinas Make Movies”, a celebration of Hispanic women in film
and advertising, co-sponsored by New York Women in Film and Television,
the Latino Collaborative, and the Association of Hispanic Arts, that
took place on Thursday, March 12.

The event attracted so many people that hordes were turned away. Press
almost didn’t get seats and general mayhem dominated the pre-screening
period until the rejected were sent home, and lucky viewers sat back to
watch the show. Featured was a diverse selection of commercials and
short films written, directed, produced, and/or edited by Hispanic
women. While some of the shorts felt like first-year student films,
commercials produced by Nettie Marquez and those edited by Yvette and
Gloria Pineyro were top-notch, and a couple of winners — Tatiana
Loureiro’s animated short “Tool Box,” which features a vicious battle
between a pair of pliers and a hammer, Paula Heredia Suarez’ “Zip” (the
short pilot for “Unzipped”) and a sneak preview of clips from Nancy
Savoca’s new film “The 24 Hour Woman” starring Rosie Perez — spiced up
the program.

Overall, solidarity and enthusiasm set the evening’s tone. The three
hosts and representatives from the sponsoring groups spoke about racism
and sexism in the industry, the obstacles present for both women and
Hispanics, and about the need to produce and support projects for both
groups. Rosie Perez got the expected laughs; when talking about her
headbutting experiences at studios she’s pitched projects to. She
remarked: “Certain studios have the Latin Division. They also have the
Black Division. But they don’t have the White Division. I’m still
looking.” Rita Moreno got a standing ovation, and her touching retelling
of the first time she met Perez produced watery eyes. (They both burst
into tears, “We were really disgusting.”) Moreno also urged women,
Latinos and Latinas to unite and fight to achieve a much deserved
representation and recognition in the film business.

Sick of being offered “coffee pourer roles” designated for “a Hispanic
woman,” she quoted Ricardo Montalban who, when asked how Hispanics were
doing in the industry said, “The door is now ajar, where it was once
closed.” Moreno went on, “I have to follow up and say, ‘ajar is no
longer good enough. How about just, open the goddamn door.'”

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