Jesse Garcia to Star in the Eva Longoria-Directed “Flamin’ Hot” Film

It’s a flamin’ hot time for Jesse Garcia.

The 38-year-old Mexican American actor and former Quinceañera star has landed the lead role in Eva Longoria’s feature directorial debut Flamin’ Hot from Searchlight Pictures and Franklin Entertainment.

Jesse Garcia

Garcia will play Richard Montanez, the architect of the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto, while Annie Gonzalez of Gentefied will portray his wife, Judy.

Flamin’ Hot tells the true life story of Richard Montanez, the Frito Lay janitor who took inspiration from his Mexican American heritage to create Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, the snack that disrupted the food industry and became a pop culture phenomenon.

Desperate Housewives actress and Telenovela, Grand Hoteland Devious Maids EP Longoria beat out several directors for the job after impressing Franklin and Searchlight with her authentic approach to the project.

“It has been my biggest priority to make sure we are telling Richard Montañez’s story authentically,” said Longoria in a statement. “I am so happy to have two extremely talented and fellow Mexican-Americans on board in these pivotal roles. Jesse and Annie have a deep understanding of our community and will be able to help tell this story of great importance for our culture.”

Also new to Flamin’ Hot is scribe Linda Yvette Chavez who has come aboard for revisions on the Lewis Colick-penned screenplay. Chavez is the creator of Netflix’s Gentefied and she’s also adapting I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter at the streamer for America Ferrera’s upcoming directorial debut.

Garcia appears in the Searchlight Pictures title Under the Same Moon, alongside Kate del Castillo and Ferrera. He has been widely recognized for his role in the highly acclaimed Quinceañera winner of the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. For his performance as Carlos, Garcia was nominated and won the prestigious ALMA Award (American Latino Media Arts) as Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture in 2007. Garcia can also be seen in The Avengers.

Gonzalez is a Chicana actress and East Los Angeles native. She grew up singing with the band Quetzal, (which has been a noted force in the Chicano movement), was one of the original dancers on Jamm X Kids for the WB and has been appearing on TV since the age of 10. She is most known for her roles in Gentefied, Vida, Shameless, and Legion. She was recently cast in the ABC pilot, Bucktown starring opposite Jane Lynch and Nicole Richie. Gonzalez also has a YouTube page with videos dedicated to her thoughts on spirituality, self-love, peace, positivity and living life as a Latina.

Manuel Uriza to Appear on Netflix’s Dramedy “Gentefied”

Manuel Uriza is getting gentefied

The Latino actor has landed a recurring role on Netflix’s dramedy Gentefied.

Manuel Uriza

Uriza joins a list of new recurring cast additions that includes Clarissa Thibeaux, Ivana Rojas and Melinna Bobadilla.

The series hails from Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez, the duo behind the Sundance Film Festival darling Gente-fied: The Digital Series, and Macro.

Created by Chicano first-gen writers Lemus and Chávez, Gentefied is a half-hour dramatic comedy adapted from the 2017 Sundance digital series of the same name. Described as a badass bilingual series about family, community, brown love, and the displacement that disrupts it all, Gentefied follows three Mexican-American cousins who struggle to chase the American Dream, even while that same dream threatens the things they hold most dear: their neighborhood, their immigrant grandfather, and the family taco shop. Set in a rapidly changing Los Angeles, the dramedy navigates important themes like identity, class, and balancing insta-fame with translating memes for their parents.

Karrie Martin, JJ Soria, Carlos Santos and Joaquín Cosio star.

Uriza will play Ernesto Morales, Pop’s estranged, oldest son. By any measure, the personification of the American Dream, Pop has never forgiven him for moving his family from East LA to the calmer suburbs of Boise, Idaho. Unlike the rest of the family, Ernesto is the only one who can stand up to Pop, as their relationship reaches a boiling point.

Rojas will portray Sarai Damian. An up-and coming Chef, Sarai is career-focused, hella ambitious, and a truth-teller. She knows what she wants and she isn’t willing to compromise her dream for anyone. We meet her as she is about to be catapulted into her biggest career high, but it comes with a big price to pay.

Bobadilla will play Melinna Barragan, a fierce non-profit lawyer, she’s down for her community, even if it means working pro-bono. If your prima with the big hoops who always got into fights got her law degree at ELAC – that would be Melinna. Passionate and fierce, she treats her clients like family.

Uriza’s credits include Magnum P.I., Hawaii Five-O, Rambo: Last Blood, The Last Ship and Snowfall.

Roadside Attractions Acquires North American Rights to Rita Moreno’s Documentary “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided To Go For It”

Rita Moreno is ready to bring her life story to America…

Roadside Attractions has acquired North American distribution rights to the 2021 Sundance Film Festival documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided To Go For It, about the 89-year-old Latina living legend.

Rita MorenoA release is planned for June 18.

Roadside’s deal excludes the television license to PBSAmerican Masters, which will present the exclusive U.S. broadcast premiere of the doc after it hits theaters.

In addition to Moreno, others featured in the Mariem Pérez Riera-directed doc include George Chakiris, Héctor Elizondo, Gloria Estefan, Tom Fontana, Morgan Freeman, Mitzi Gaynor, Whoopi Goldberg, Norman Lear, Eva Longoria, Justina Machado, Terrence McNally, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Karen Olivo.

The film covers Moreno’s 70-year-plus career rise and struggles, from her beginnings in poverty on a Puerto Rican farm to becoming a rare EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscars, Tony Awards) winner.

She’s the first Latina actress to win an Oscar (for her role as Anita in 1961’s West Side Story). Despite the win, studios continued to offer Moreno lesser roles as stereotypical ethnic minorities, ignoring her proven talent.

“Roadside Attractions, I’m so pleased for your commitment to my story and especially for making it available to a broader audience. Curtain Up!,” Moreno commented.

“Stars like Rita are few and far between, her showbiz story and personal remembrances resonate for a large, diverse audience, and the heights she continues to achieve are a true crowd pleasing uplift after the year we’ve all had,” said Roadside co-presidents Howard Cohen and Eric d’Arbeloff.

“Rita is an incredible inspiration to so many, hers is a success story for all women who feel alone as they struggle to assert themselves with courage and bravery against heavy odds,” offered director Pérez Riera. “We are so thrilled to bring Rita to theaters for audiences to spend time with a woman who, when speaking about herself, speaks to and for a lot of us.”

“There were only a small group of distributors we hoped would take notice at Sundance. Roadside was at the top of that list,” said film’s producer, ACT III’s Brent Miller and EP Norman Lear. “We think we’re in great hands with Howard and Eric at the helm and couldn’t be more excited for the world to know the Rita we now know and love.”

American Masters Pictures and Act III Productions in association with Artemis Rising and Maramar Films are producers.

Vertical Entertainment Acquires North American Rights to Rodrigo Garcia’s Addiction Drama “Four Good Days”

Good days ahead for Rodrigo Garcia

Vertical Entertainment has acquired the North American rights to the 61-year-old Colombian television and film director, screenwriter and former cinematographer’s Four Good Days, a drama starring his Albert Nobbs star Glenn Close and Mila Kunis.

Rodrigo Garcia

The film, which bowed at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, will now hit theaters April 30 and be available on-demand on May 21.

Based on a true story by Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post writer Eli Saslow and adapted by Saslow and Garcia, the film centers on 31-year-old Molly (Kunis) who begs her estranged mother Deb (Close) for save her from the grip of heroin addiction in a poignant and unpredictable chronicle of mother and daughter fighting to regain the love and trust that once held them together. Stephen Root also stars along with a cast that includes Chad Lindberg, Rebecca Field, Joshua Leonard, Michael Hyatt and Sam Hennings.

The film is produced by Jon Avnet, Marina Grasic, Jake Avnet, Jai Khanna and Garcia.

The film is presented by Oakhurst Entertainment, financed by Productivity Media and produced by Garcia’s Indigenous Media.

“We are excited to share the impactful message and impeccable performances by Mila Kunis and Glenn Close in Four Good Days with audiences this spring,” said Rich Goldberg, co-president of Vertical Entertainment. “The film, based on a true story, gives audiences a window into the struggle of a mother and daughter trying to rebuild their relationship after a long battle with drug abuse. The conversation around addiction can be complex and difficult for family members to have and we strongly feel that audiences, and most importantly families, will empathize with these characters and possibly even open up the discussion about drug abuse with one another.”

William Morris Endeavor (WME) Signs Gina Rodriguez & Her Production Company

It’s a new endeavor for Gina Rodriguez

William Morris Endeavor (WME) has signed the 36-year-old Puerto Rican actress and her production company I Can and I Will Productions, run by Molly Breeskin, in all areas.

Gina Rodriguez

The Golden Globe-winning former Jane the Virgin star was previously at Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

Rodriguez played the title role in the CW series Jane the Virgin for 100 episodes, winning a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Series Musical or Comedy in 2015.

Rodriguez recently starred in the Focus Features title Kajillionaire opposite Evan Rachel Wood and Richard Jenkins. The Miranda July directed feature made its world premiere at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.

Rodriguez’s upcoming projects include the Netflix film Awake and the miniseries Lost Ollie for the streamer.

She has starred in Sony/Screen Gems’ Miss Bala and the Netflix feature Someone Great, a film in which she also served as a producer.

Her voice can be heard in the title role of Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego, and she also had starring voiceovers in Twentieth Century Fox/Blue Sky’s Ferdinand, Warner Brothers’ Smallfoot and Scoob, and Sony’s The Star.

In addition to her acting career, the native Chicagoan and NYU Tisch School alum is a driving force for inclusion and the empowerment of women in all ways, particularly in the entertainment industry. This passion led her to create her production company, I Can and I Will Productions, with a mission directly reflecting her commitment to create art and tell stories from those who are traditionally unseen and unheard.

The company has finished its second season of Diary of a Future President where Rodriguez directed, produced, and performed as the future president.

With her family, she established the We Will Foundation, which aims to uplift and champion underprivileged youth through arts, education, scholarship funding, and financial literacy.

Angel Manuel Soto to Direct DC Films & Warner Bros.’ “Blue Beetle,” Featuring the First Latino Superhero

Angel Manuel Soto is feelin’ blue

The 38-year-old Puerto Rican filmmaker Angel Manuel Soto is set to direct DC Films and Warner Bros.’ Blue Beetle, the first superhero film that will be led by a Latino character.

Angel Manuel Soto

Created by Charles Wojtkowski for Fox Comics in 1939, the character Blue Beetle has had a number of superhero alter egos, but the film is said to focus on Jaime Reyes who was first introduced in 2006. As the Blue Beetle, the Mexican-American teen from El Paso is known for his high-tech alien armor.

Miss Bala scribe Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, who also wrote the screenplay for the upcoming Scarface reboot, penned the script for Blue Beetle.

Soto directed the 2020 drama Charm City Kings, which has its premiere at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and is currently available to stream on HBO Max.

Rita Moreno to Take Part in This Year’s Sundance Film Festival Semi-Virtual Edition

Rita Moreno is ready to rock Sundance…

The 2021 Sundance Film Festival has announced a schedule of the talks and events to be presented on the Sundance platform, with the 89-year-old Puerto Rican actress, dancer and singer set to participate.

Rita Moreno

The festival, which runs from January 28 to February 3, opted for a semi-virtual option in lieu of its traditional exhibition in Park City, UT. Among the guests taking part in this year’s virtual “Cinema Cafe” talks are Moreno, Questlove, Robin Wright and others.

Moreno will be joined by beloved Sesame Street alum Sonia Manzano for a little café talk on Saturday, January 30 from 10:30-11:15 am.

The EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscars & Tony Awards) winner will also take part in the Conjuring the Collective: Womxn at Sundance Speakeasy later that night, from 8:00 – 9:00 pm.

The virtual speakeasy will feature performances from an array of talented women from the Festival and beyond, honoring a multiplicity of perspectives through our myths and stories, dance, art, music, and culture.

In addition to Moreno, guests include poet Apiorkor, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison (Ailey), actor Marlee Matlin and director Siân Heder.

The following is the roster of scheduled events. All talks and events are free to view, and all times are U.S. Mountain time.

2021 Sundance Film
Festival Opening Night Welcome
Thursday, January 28,
5:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

The Sundance Dailies
#SundanceDailies
Friday, January 29–Tuesday, February 2,
9:00 a.m.–9:30 a.m.

2021 Cinema Café guests:

Shaka King & Ahmir
“Questlove” Thompson
Friday, January 29, 10:30-11:15 a.m.

Sonia Manzano & Rita Moreno
Saturday, January 30, 10:30-11:15 a.m.

Rebecca Hall & Robin Wright
Sunday, January 31, 10:30-11:15 a.m.

Tyson Brown, Patti Harrison & Emilia Jones
Monday, February 1, 10:30-11:15am

The Big Conversation
#SundanceBigConversation
Friday, January 29-Monday, February 1,
1-2 p.m., individual slots TBA
The Big Conversation tackles science, art, culture, and the movements that are fueling the imaginations of today’s independent artists. A compelling selection of speakers discuss topics centered on the themes of this year’s program and explore broader trends in art and culture around the world. In considering how
artists — through their practice and their work — make meaning of the world, we’re reminded that it’s the big conversation that connects us to the big ideas. The topics are “Barbed Wire Kisses Redux,” “Come Together” and “The Past In the Present: A Personal Journey through Race, History and Filmmaking.”

Power of Story
Timing TBA
The Sundance Film Festival’s Power of Story looks to deepen public engagement with storytelling, delve into cinema culture, and celebrate artists whose work propels the form and reinvents storytelling as we know it.

Power of Story: Speculative Fiction Is the Place
Black speculative fiction and historiography, Afrofuturism, and utopian/dystopian visions speak to an enduring, evolving, and vibrant storytelling sensibility.

Conjuring the Collective: Womxn at Sundance Speakeasy
Saturday, January 30, 8-9 p.m.
A virtual speakeasy featuring performances from an array of talented women from the Festival and beyond, honoring a multiplicity of perspectives through our myths and stories, dance, art, music, and culture. Guests include: poet Apiorkor, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and Artistic Director Emerita Judith Jamison (Ailey), actor Marlee Matlin and director Siân Heder (CODA), actor Rita Moreno (Rita Moreno: Just A Girl Who Decided to Go For It), actor SOKO (Mayday, The Blazing World), and more TBA.

Awards Night
Tuesday, February 2, 6 p.m.
Free and open to all, the event will be live-streamed on our online screening platform.

It’s a Wrap
Wednesday, February 3, 9-9:30 a.m.
Festival director Tabitha Jackson leads a ceremonial end to this all-new Sundance experience by bringing audiences together for one last moment together in the virtual space.

Karamo Brown to Appear on Season 4 of Netflix’s “Dear White People”

Karamo Brown has landed a Dear role…

The 40-year-old Cuban-Jamaican American television host, reality television personality, author and activist has joined the upcoming fourth and final season of Netflix’s Dear White People in a recurring role. Season 4 is slated to premiere in 2021.

Karamo BrownBased on Justin Simien’s acclaimed debut indie feature, Dear White People is set against the backdrop of a predominantly white Ivy League university where racial tensions bubble just below the surface. The satirical series — which picks up where the 2014 Sundance Film Festival hit left off – follows a group of Winchester University’s students of color as they navigate a diverse landscape of social injustice, cultural bias, political correctness (or lack thereof) and activism in the millennial age.

Stars Marque Richardson, Logan Browning, Brandon P. Bell, Antoinette Robertson, DeRon Horton, John Patrick Amedori and Ashley Blaine Featherson are slated to return for Season 4. The 10-episode series is produced by Lionsgate.

Brown received a 2020 Primetime Emmy nomination as Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition program for Queer Eye. He most recently starred in Freeform’s romantic comedy The Thing About Harry opposite Jake Borelli.

Brown is the co-founder of the beauty and skincare company MANTL that launched online last year and now sold nationwide in Nordstrom. He also is the author of Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope and I Am Perfectly Designed, co-written with his son Jason ‘Rachel’ Brown. Available through Luminary, Brown’s podcast, Karamo, is an in-depth look at life’s thorniest issues through the lens of his celebrity guests and fans from around the world.

Fernanda Valadez’s “Identifying Features” Wins Gotham Awards’ Inaugural Best International Feature Award

Fernanda Valadez is in a New York state of mind…

The Gotham Film and Media Institute’s 30th annual Gotham Awards have been revealed virtually, with the Mexican filmmaker taking home a prize.

Fernanda Valadez

Valadez’s critically acclaimed Identifying Features (Sin Señas Particulares) picked up the inaugural award for Best International Feature.

The drama premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic and the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Screenplay.

Co-written by Valadez and Astrid Rondero, the film centers on the many immigrants who often go missing or die on their journeys. Most of the main characters are mothers trying to find their children.

IFP Executive Director Jeffrey Sharp welcomed the virtual audience and the night featured a handful of in-person presenters including Renee Elise Goldsberry, Cristin Milioti, Hunter Schafer, Padma Lakshmi, Michael Shannon and Noma Dumezweni, as well as remote presenters such as Zachary Quinto, Lupita Nyong’o, Anthony Mackie, Rebecca Hall and Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre.

Here’s the full list of winners below.

BEST FEATURE: Nomadland
BEST DOCUMENTARY – TIE A Thousand Cuts & Time
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE: Identifying Features
BINGHAM RAY BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR AWARD: Andrew Patterson, The Vast of Night
BEST SCREENPLAY – TIE: The Forty-Year-Old Version, Radha Blank & Fourteen, Dan Sallitt
BEST ACTOR: Riz Ahmed, Sound of Metal
BEST ACTRESS: Nicole Beharie, Miss Juneteenth
BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR: Kingsley Ben-Adir, One Night in Miami…
BREAKTHROUGH SERIES – LONG FORMAT (40-PLUS MINUTES PER EPISODE): Watchmen
BREAKTHROUGH SERIES – SHORT FORMAT (LESS THAN 40 MINUTES PER EPISODE): I May Destroy You
ACTRESS TRIBUTE: Viola Davis
ACTOR TRIBUTE: Chadwick Boseman
ENSEMBLE TRIBUTE: The cast of The Trial of the Chicago 7: Sacha Baron Cohen, Eddie Redmayne, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jeremy Strong, Mark Rylance, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Keaton, Frank Langella, John Carroll Lynch, Alex Sharp, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Caitlin Fitzgerald, Alice Kremelberg, and Ben Shenkman.
DIRECTOR’S TRIBUTE: Steve McQueen
INDUSTRY TRIBUTE: Ryan Murphy
MADE IN N.Y. AWARD: Jeffrey Wright
GOTHAM AUDIENCE AWARD: Nomadland

Alexis Gambis’ “Hijo de Monarcas” Wins 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Prize for Film

Alexis Gambis is celebrating a monarch moment…

The French Venezuelan filmmaker and biologist’s US-Mexico film Hijo de Monarcas has won the 2021 Alfred P. Sloan Prize for film.

Alexis Gambis

Gambis’ film, which stars Tenoch Huerta, Paulina Gaitan and William Mapother centers on a Mexican scientist (Huerta) living in New York, who returns to his hometown, nestled in the majestic butterfly forests of Michoacán. The journey forces him to confront past traumas and reflect on his hybrid identity, sparking a personal metamorphosis.

The annual award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation recognizes a film screening at the Sundance Film Festival that focuses on science or technology or portrays a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a major character.

Tenoch Huerta, Hijo de Monarcas

Hijo de Monarcas is directed and written by Gambis and features a cast that includes Alexia Rasmussen, Lázaro Gabino Rodríguez and Noé Hernández.

Hijo de Monarcas, which was filmed in New York and Mexico in both English and Spanish, will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 29, with a second screening on January 31.

“As we celebrate the wonderful news for Son of Monarchs, I just wanted to take a minute to point at this injustice and call to action to save the endangered monarch butterfly,” posted Gambis on Facebook, referring to his movie’s selection for Sundance, before the award was announced. He highlights the risks and challenges now facing the butterflies in light of reported huge population declines in the past few years. “The monarch butterfly is threatened with extinction but will not come under federal protection because other species are a higher priority, federal officials announced Tuesday,” he added citing a New York Times article.

Gambis’ filmmaking mixes documentary and fiction, often honoring animal perspective. His artistic craft and scientific background led him to launch various projects like the Imagine Science Film Festival in 2008 and the science-focused streaming platform and online magazine Labocine. Eight years later, he directed his first narrative feature, The Fly Room, a biographical drama that also deals with science, in this case genetics.

The Alfred P. Sloan Prize has been handed out at the Sundance Film Festival since 2003. The winner receives a $20,000 cash award.