Antonio Méndez Esparza is having a notable year…
The 26-year-old Spanish filmmaker has earned a Gotham Independent Film Awards nomination in the Breakthrough Director category.
Méndez Esparza was recognized for his exceptional work on his debut feature film Aquí y Allá (Here and There).
The film, which took top honors at the Critics’ Week sidebar at the Cannes Film Festival, centers on Pedro, a Mexican man who returns home to a small mountain village in Guerrero, after years of working in the US. He finds his daughters older, and more distant than he imagined, while his wife still has the same smile. Having saved money from two trips to the U.S., he hopes to now finally make a better life with his family, and even to pursue his own dreams on the side by starting a band: the Copa Kings.
Meanwhile, Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza has been recognized for her work on the feature film Safety Not Guaranteed, a film that centers on three magazine employees who head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel.
The 28-year-old half-Puerto Rican actress/comedian and her co-stars in the film – Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere, Kristen Bell, Jeff Garlin and Mary Lynn Rajskub – received a nod in the Best Ensemble Performance category.
The Gotham Independent Film Awards are handed out by the Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP), the nation’s oldest and largest organization of independent filmmakers.
The awards signal the kick-off to Hollywood’s awards season. In all, Gotham Independent Film Award nominations were given to a total of 26 films across six competitive categories: Best Feature, Best Documentary, Breakthrough Director, Breakthrough Actor, Best Ensemble Performance, and Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You.
The Gotham Awards ceremony will be held on Monday, November 26th in Manhattan. In addition to the competitive awards, actors Marion Cotillard and Matt Damon, director David O. Russell, and Participant Media founder Jeff Skoll will each be presented with a career tribute.
Here’s a look at the categories with Latinos being recognized:
Best Ensemble Performance
– Bernie, Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, Matthew McConaughey (Millennium Entertainment)
– Moonrise Kingdom, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban (Focus Features)
– Safety Not Guaranteed, Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere, Kristen Bell, Jeff Garlin, Mary Lynn Rajskub (Film District)
– Silver Linings Playbook, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker, Anupam Kher (The Weinstein Company)
– Your Sister’s Sister, Emily Blunt, Rosemarie Dewitt, Mark Duplass (IFC Films)
– Zal Batmanglij for Sound of My Voice (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
– Brian M. Cassidy and Melanie Shatzky for Francine (Factory 25 and The Film Sales Company)
– Jason Cortlund and Julia Halperin for Now, Forager (Argot Pictures)
– Antonio Méndez Esparza for Aquí y Allá (Here and There) (Torch Films)
– Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild (Fox Searchlight Pictures)