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LatinoBuzz: Leaders of the New NYU Film School

LatinoBuzz: Leaders of the New NYU Film School

First Run Film Festival runs April 16th-19th at NYU’s Cantor Film Center showcasing amongst the best films coming out of Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. The festival features promising filmmakers short films as
they journey towards leaving an imprint with their feature films. LatinoBuzz wanted to show some love to Latino filmmakers representing at this years
festival. Remember these names!


– “San Cristobal

LatinoBuzz: Why film and what do you want to ultimately want to say?

Omar: I became interested in film as a viewer when I was a teenager. I would spend entire afternoons in an arthouse theater in downtown Santiago. I didn’t really
expect to be a filmmaker back then. But it was clearly an interest. During the years that followed I discovered the passion slowly, I went to a
communications undergrad in Chile, and then to NYU for my MFA. I don’t see myself doing anything else now. I’m interested in the visual language that it
has, and also in how emotional it can be. There are themes that I unconsciously come back to, There is no deliberate objective. Every film comes out of an
intuition, where I’m at, at that moment in particular. But looking back on my work, somehow I get back to masculinity and how men are taught to avoid
showing how fragile they can be, or to people who are in constant movement (which is what I’ve been doing for the past few years). I seem to want to
explore these types of characters.

LatinoBuzz: You are younger than the current wave of Chilenos, and I brought it up with Marialy Rivas and Andres Wood, but they grew up under the
dictatorship and I was curious how it affected them as they became artists. What about Chile conditioned you?

Dictatorship didn’t affect me directly. I was born just a few years before it ended, so I don’t have clear memories of it. I’ve only learned about its
devastating nature after the fact. There is something eminently Chilean about avoiding confrontation, or about not clarifying the way you feel sometimes.
It’s a particular culture, where emotions are not discussed as profusely with your family or friends, nor shown in an explicit manner. I believe that’s
something that’s somehow in my work, where people can’t articulate too clearly how they feel about things. It is very familiar and natural to me to not
have to define so exactly the nature of actions that people take. We don’t have that over-analyzing attitude about things.

LatinoBuzz: Pick a film to re-make (you have to!) Who is the lead?

Omar: I wouldn’t remake a film.

LatinoBuzz: Where to next?

“San Cristóbal” will continue its route internationally this year. I am also developing a feature project based on the short, and trying to put together its
financing. It’s always incredibly difficult, but we’re trying to make our best. –


Why film and what do you ultimately want to say?

I’m not sure exactly how film came to me and why, I guess it was just a natural progression from recording my parents expeditions when I was a kid, playing
with the camera in high-school and escaping (as much as I could) the business future my family had intended for me. In the end, film was the best way to
put myself into endless adventures, while attempting to tell the world the many stories that can be uncovered on the way. There are always stories out
there, tales of bravery from every corner of the world – they can seem so exotic, yet so relatable to our modern society.

LatinoBuzz: Suriname, obviously is not considered a ‘Latino’ nation but does have a fascinating place in South American – where did the idea to shoot
there come from?

It was late 2009, the last Sunday of the year, and I sat in my living room listening to the news about an attack in the gold mines of Suriname. It was very
weird – though I had grown up in Suriname’s neighboring country of Brazil, I didn’t know much about the place, let alone its gold and the thousands of
lives migrating across the borders in search of it. The more I researched about that fascinating land, the more I craved to visit it and learn about that
little corner of the world of which so few people have heard. What I’ve tried to do with Suriname Gold is reveal a human story within a somewhat hidden
world, the characters may be fictional, but their experiences are real. My hope is that viewers will be entertained by the film’s sense of adventure, and
more importantly, that audiences will learn something new about this complex nation and the continuous exploitation of the Amazon (and the lives taken on
the way).

LatinoBuzz: Pick a film to re-make (you have to!) Who is the lead?

That’s a hard one… I would love to make a new version of Disney’s “Newsies”, more based on the play than the 90s movie. The lead? I’ve always wanted to
work with English actor Jamie Bell, a great inspiration when I was first getting into film. One day, right?

LatinoBuzz: Where to next?

It’s been some years now since we shot the short film of Suriname Gold. I’ve been developing, with the producers, the feature length version of that story,
as well as some other scripts that are set in that environment. Once the story reaches the right point, I hope to gather our adventurous crew and cast back
together, fly to the Amazon and embark on this journey again. –


Why film and what do you ultimately want to say?

Film is still one of the few mediums that you can reach a mass audience. It’s an opportunity and a platform to share content with depth, meaning, culture,
and value, regardless of genre, to inspire and make people think. Ultimately I want to use the art form to share, inspire and make meaningful change in
people’s lives. My favorite movies have had profound meaning in my life well past the end credits.

Did the tragic deaths of young males of color propel you to write ‘Stop’ or is it something that has long lingered?

The genius of the film has been something that had been brewing for a while. It really came into focus for me with the Trayvon Martin/ George Zimmerman
decision. I thought to myself, what if that were me? What if I was walking home at night and a cop stopped me, what would I do if I were in that situation?
So, we decided to make a film about it.

LatinoBuzz: Pick a film to re-make (you have to!) Who is the lead?

I’d remake “Drive” with Benicio Del Toro. There’s nothing wrong with the original, I just think it’d be a fun experiment.

LatinoBuzz: Where to next?

The Green Brothers
will be making a feature (or two) over the next year, look out for them!

Twitter @greenbrosfilms / Facebook:

CARLOS VALDIVIA – “Writing Lessons”

: Why film and what do you want to ultimately want to say?


Why not film? I think cinematic storytelling is the most impactful. It has the greatest reach out of any art form. My focus has always been to increase the
representation and visibility of people (particularly LGBTQ people and people of color) that are often neglected or completely erased from the big screen.
I’d like to do it with empathy and intelligence, but without ever diluting the complexity of individuals and their lived experiences. So I’d say I
ultimately want to challenge preconceived notions with authenticity.

: How much yourself turns up in your narrative?

A lot! With “Writing Lessons” I wanted to recreate a most exciting time and place from my first year in New York, when I moved here to attend NYU as
a freshman. My best friend and I both ended up getting in with a crowd of much older Columbia academics and we were regular guests at their gatherings
where we were by far the youngest people. It was very exciting and I was always fascinated by the convergence of young naiveté and older indifference and
how people often desire the one they don’t have. Young people trying to grow up too quickly and older people who wish to be younger is a central source of
conflict in the film. At the same time, I also wanted the film to reflect the experience of being the only person of color in almost exclusively white
environments. I purposely had Julian be the only non-white person in the narrative. Julian is fascinated by his professor’s world but he will never really
be a part of it. I strongly relate to being an outsider with a desire to fit in. Even though race is never explicitly stated in the film, it’s clear that
he will always be an outsider in this environment. I think this is how race operates in highly liberal environments today, rarely spoken out loud and yet
still relevant and highly impactful.

: Pick a film to re-make (you have to!) Who is the lead?

This is a tough one. Generally, I’m not a fan of remakes. But I’d love to remake Ingmar Bergman’s “Cries and Whispers” with Penelope Cruz and Salma
Hayek as sisters, playing the Liv Ullmann and Ingrid Thulin roles. Maybe Gina Rodriguez can play their dying sister. That would be a dream project.

LatinoBuzz: Where to next?

I finished Writing Lessons very recently, so I’ve only just begun submitting it to film festivals where I hope the film can get some exposure. After that,
I’ll definitely be sharing it online. Programmers, call me/email me! –

FIDEL RUIZ-HEALY– “A Band of Thieves” 

Why film and what do you want to ultimately want to say?

Unfortunately I make films because I don’t know how to do anything else. It’s all I’ve thought about since elementary school and when it came to growing up
and picking a career I feel like I didn’t really have a choice in the matter. I think your films grow up with you so what you want to say with them all
comes down to what you are currently living through. I think films are inherently influenced by the social and political environments that surround you and
its up to the writer to choose how on the nose they want to be.

LatinoBuzz: How
important was shooting in Texas? Do you feel it shaped you as a storyteller?

The movie had to be in Texas. It’s about the crazy things you do when its 100 degrees outside and creating a lawless playground to play cowboy. For me the
only place for that is Texas. When looking up references from old westerns and bank heist movies, I quickly realized that what I was looking for was just
locales I saw growing up. After that it was just a matter of finding out how to produce a film in San Antonio from New York, and that’s what we did. In
terms of being shaped as a storyteller by Texas, I think everyone is influenced a bit by the city they grew up in. At he end of the day that’s what shapes
your image of the world. The people and places you interact with as a kid define your perspective on things, and for me that was growing up around the San
Antonio suburbs wanting to live life like I saw in the movies.

LatinoBuzz: Pick a film to re-make (you have to!) Who is the lead?

It would have to be “Alphaville”. It’s one of my favorites. Remaking a Godard films seems like some kind of filmic taboo, so that would make it hard. You
would have to get it right or else a lot of people would hate you, (Remember the remake of Breathless? Not very many people do) so finding the way to
recreate that film in a modern context seems like a great challenge. As for the lead, I have no idea. Maybe someone from Texas? I’m kind of going through a
weird Texas love phase in my life right now, so instinctively I’m leaning towards some Texan faces. But either way, I would have to watch the imaginary
casting tapes with my casting director a couple of times to make a final decision. But maybe I would just be forced to make it with talking CGI farm
animals – “Alphaville” for kids. Maybe that’s the best approach and one Godard would respect. Mr. Godard if you’re reading this – Just picture this: CGI farm
animals as Lemmy Caution and Natacha von Braun.

LatinoBuzz: Where to next?

I’m currently writing a feature and developing a short film that deals with the border violence in south Texas. It’s kind of like Blood Simple meets
Halloween but in the desert. I’m looking to shoot later this year in West Texas. –

CARLOS ARATA – “An Evening with Oliver

LatinoBuzz: Why film and what do you want to ultimately want to say?

Film is the ultimate medium through which to tell stories, and when I was younger, it was a way of visually expressing myself. Now, it’s become a way for
me to see the world as I did then. When you are young, everything is fresh, magical – you don’t have to have it all figured out. You experience a lot of
things for the first time, with a heightened sense of reality…and naivety, too, and it’s wonderful. The world is much more interesting that way. I want my
audience to experience the most fascinating version of the world, to feel their feelings in a way they haven’t in a long time, and to look at the world in
a way they don’t normally do.

LatinoBuzz: Is there a particular childhood memory you would like to realize in a film of yours one day?

I have a distinct memory of being lost in Disneyland at five-years-old. I would like to revisit that experience of roaming the park alone – The feeling of
being lost against the backdrop of the “happiest place on earth” interests me.

LatinoBuzz: Pick a film to re-make (you have to!) Who is the lead?

If I could remake any film it would have to be “The Warriors.” I used to and still watch the film all the time, and caught it whenever it played at
the nearby art house. It has an amazing vibe, and of course, a story that is still relevant in our day. I’d cast Chris Pratt as Swan, Kid Cudi as Cochise,
and Danny Trejo involved somewhere in the mix.

LatinoBuzz: Where to next?

I’m developing a feature version of my short film, “An Evening with Oliver,” and in the process of writing an animated feature, as well as a TV
pilot (and of course, looking for opportunities to produce both!) –


LatinoBuzz: Why film and what do you ultimately want to say?

I grew up with my mother taking me and my brother Joao (who produced “Partiu”) to watch “cult” movies – as we used to call them – during the week; and my
father making us watch Scorsese’s filmography with him during the weekend. Quite inappropriate for kids, but it taught me a lot about movies and shaped who
I am. I believe in films that make the audience uncomfortably entertained and have people walking out of the theater with their subconscious still in the
story. It needs to be breathtaking and bring new perspectives.

LatinoBuzz: Which is the ‘Brasil’ you would like the world to see through your lens?

A ‘Brasil’ through unpleasant reality based films with characters, personalities and events deconstructed to their core, avoiding the common subjects that
have already been over-explored. Certain stories need to be told, but not as many times as it has been done over the last few years. Brazil is much more
than “cine-favela” and soap-opera-like comedies. “Central Station,” “City of God” and the “Elite Squad” movies are great, but not every Brazilian film needs to
be like them. With very few exceptions, in the last few years those were the themes explored by the majority of the films produced in our culturally
diverse country. Brasil is desperate for new stories that don’t underestimate the audience.

LatinoBuzz: Pick a film to re-make (you have to!) Who is the lead?

That’s are many choices, but I would really love to adapt ‘Ashes and Diamonds’ to the current South American political turmoil. There are a few recent
cases of assassinations of prosecutors and whistleblowers that could base a great remake. The lead… Joao Miguel, who’s in ‘Cinema, Aspirins and Vultures’,
‘Xingu’ and many other great films. In my opinion he’s one of the most complete actors in Brazil’s cinema.

LatinoBuzz: Where to next?

I am currently working on a story of faith and corruption involving money-making mega-churches. I am also working on a feature version of “Partiu” as I
created the short in order to explore the subject in deep. This is also my thesis project for NYU Tisch School of the Arts. –

You can find screening times and more info at:

Written by
Juan Caceres
. LatinoBuzz is a feature on

that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow

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