Velasco Selected for Film Independent’s Directing Lab

The future looks bright for Aldo Velasco

The Mexican filmmaker and playwright has been selected by Film Independent as one of the participants for  its 12th annual Directing Lab.

Aldo Velasco

The annual program is designed to assist promising directors develop new narrative feature films, improve their craft and advance their filmmaking careers in a nurturing yet challenging environment. The selected filmmakers are provided digital camera and sound packages and a cash stipend to shoot scenes, as well as access to a variety of production resources.

Velasco, born in Guadalajara, Mexico, has seen his short films screened at the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW and Los Angeles Film Festival, among others. In 2009, he received a grant from ITVS (Independent Television Service) to write and direct the short film Tent City for the first season of the online Futurestates series. Aldo is also an editor of feature films. Recently, he edited Chittagong the epic Indian historical drama directed by Bedabrata Pain. He also edited Grace Leeʼs political mock documentary Janeane From Des Moines, which recently premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.

Velasco will work on his project, God Love Stu, true story of Stu Rasmussen, who convinced his conservative hometown in Oregon to elect him as the first transgender mayor in history.

But Velasco isn’t the only Latino selected to the Film Independent’s Directing Lab.

Brazilian-American filmmaker Alex Moratto will take part in the lab. He’s a graduate of the UNC School of the Arts, School of Filmmaking where he was a Kenan Scholar and studied film directing under Peter Bogdanovich. His thesis film The Other Side won the 2010 Jury Award from the Directors Guild of America for Latino filmmaker. Moratto attended Werner Herzogʼs 2010 Rogue Film School Seminar and was the recipient of the 2012 North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship for Screenwriting.

Moratto’s project is the Untitled Amazon Project. When armed loggers threaten to evict their family from their rural home in the Amazon, two brothers smuggle rare lumber in hopes of selling it on the black market for money to save their land.

The lab, which began this week, runs through mid-April.

Chao Shines a Light on the Plight of Arizona’s Jailed Immigrants…

He’s known for his politically charged music… And, now Manu Chao is using one of his classic songs to denounce the conditions undocumented immigrants are forced to endure at Arizona’s Maricopa County Jail.

The 50-year-old Spanish singer/songwriter has released a new music video for his classic migrant song “Clandestino.” The new version features the singer and one of his guitarists singing in front of the infamous jail’s tent city section, where detainees must tolerate the intense heat in summer and sub-freezing temperatures in winter.

Manu Chao

“The particulars were the result of the work of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, who met after a concert with Chao in California a year ago to talk with him about the situation being experienced by immigrants in Arizona,” the video’s director Alex Rivera told EFE.

After wrapping up his U.S. tour at the Festival of Resistance in Phoenix, Chao fulfilled a promise to offer a free concert in protest of the implementation of Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law in September.

During his visit to the state, Chao took advantage of his presence there to record this new version of “Clandestino” in front of the tent city jail run by controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who once called it his ‘concentration camp’. The special Arizona edition of the tune features some lyrical changes as Chao sings “Mexicano, clandestino! Hondureño, clandestino! Guatemalteco, clandestino! Maricopa, ilegal!” emphatically pointing his thumb to the tent city jail behind him after the last line.

“We wanted to do something powerful about what’s happening in Arizona. That’s how the idea of filming ‘Clandestino’ in front of Arpaio’s infamous jail came up,” said Rivera.