Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival to Host Special Screening of Anthony Ramos’ “In The Heights”

Anthony Ramos will be reaching new heights sooner than expected…

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival will host a special screening of “In The Heights,” starring the 29-year-old Puerto Rican singer/actor.

Anthony Ramos in In The Heights

The screening will take place on June 4 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

It will come ahead of the world premiere of the Jon M. Chu-directed adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical five days later to open the Tribeca Film Festival.

It’s a coup for the L.A.-based fest, which is run by the Edward James Olmos-founded Latino Film Institute.

The preview is taking take one week before In the Heights premieres on June 11 in theaters and on HBO Max.

The news comes as LALIFF and Tribeca said they are partnering as a celebration of their 20th anniversaries this year.

Mexico Enters Fernando Frías de la Parra’s “I’m No Longer Here” into International Feature Film Oscar Race

Fernando Frías de la Parra is representing…

The Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences has chosen the Mexican filmmaker’s I’m No Longer Here as Mexico’s official entry for the International Feature Film Oscar race.

Fernando Frías de la Parra

The film centers on the young leader (Juan Daniel Garcia Trevino) of a small Monterrey street gang from the Cholombiano subculture who longs for home after being forced to move to Jackson Heights, Queens, after an altercation with a local cartel. It premiered at the 2019 Morelia Film Festival, where it won Best Feature and was a selection of this year’s truncated Tribeca Film Festival.

The film received 10 Ariel Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and is Mexico’s official submission for Spain’s Goya Awards.

I'm No Longer Here

Netflix acquired worldwide rights back in 2018, and it bowed on the streamer on May 27.

“The news took me by surprise, and I am overwhelmed with happiness and excitement,” said Frias. “I am enormously grateful to the Academy and its members and the entire industry that has supported us, such as Netflix and IMCINE, but also to the people. The public has shown us that they are ready to connect with our stories here in Mexico. That fills me with pride.”

Mexico has seen nine film nominated for the Academy Awards’ International Feature race (it was formerly known as Outstanding Foreign-Language Feature) with films from the likes of Alejandro González Iñárritu and Guillermo del Toro. It’s only one the top prize once, however, for Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, also from Netflix, in 2018.

PBS’ POV Acquires Rights to Cecilia Aldarondo’s Documentary “Landfall,” About Puerto Rico’s Post-Hurricane Maria Rebuilding Efforts

Cecilia Aldarondo will be enlightening people on Puerto Rico’s post-Hurricane Maria rebuilding efforts.

PBS’ documentary series POV has acquired U.S. broadcast rights to Landfall, the Puerto Rican documentary filmmaker’s feature-length film about the rebuilding of Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hurricane Maria through the stories of farmers, fishermen, educators, real estate agents and newcomers.

Cecilia Aldarondo

The documentary, which had its premiere at the mostly shuttered Tribeca Film Festival, will now air as part of POV’s 34th season set to launch on PBS stations in June. Before that, it will screen at DOC NYC, which runs November 11-19.

The island and its 3.4 million residents (and U.S. citizens) was ravaged by the September 2017 storm, which shuttered electricity to the entire commonwealth and caused billions in damages, leaving behind a crippled infrastructure and a multibillion-dollar debt. Outside investors descended not as much to bail out communities but to cash in, leaving the next generation of Puerto Ricans finding themselves at an inflection point between the dream of a socialist utopia and the reality of recolonization.

Landfall is a co-production of Blackscrackle Films, ITVS, and American Documentary | POV in association with Field of Vision and Latino Public Broadcasting, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Landfall is a cautionary tale about unjust recovery, and what happens when powerful interests try to privatize public services in the wake of disaster,” Aldarondo said. “Now that we’re all facing the biggest disaster of our lifetimes, we need public media like POV to champion the visionary, ethical, and independent media we need for a healthy society. I can’t think of a better home for my film.”

“Cecilia’s masterpiece is both a sharp condemnation of the continued colonial exploitation of Puerto Rico and a warm embrace of the land and her people,” executive producer Chris White said. “Rendered with a singular vision and deep affection, you’ll be swept into solidarity with these native Puerto Ricans who resist and rebuild.”

Tanya Saracho Signs Development Deal with UCP

Things are developing nicely for Tanya Saracho

The Mexican screenwriterand Vida creator has signed a development deal with UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group.

Tanya Saracho

As part of the deal, Saracho will develop and create original content for television, as well as podcasts via the studio’s UCP Audio extension. She’ll also establish a lab and incubator program for Latinx voices.

“To say that I’m immensely enthusiastic about this union is not enough. This partnership with UCP is a vital opportunity to keep amplifying the voices and stories that matter to me – those brown, queer narratives which have been missing from the landscape, and which are so important to tell,” said Saracho.

 “I’m also elated and looking forward to establishing a lab and incubator program aimed to nurture, amplify and empower intersectional Latinx voices,” Saracho added. “And on a personal level, it is greatly gratifying to find a home where I already feel so seen and supported.”

Saracho most recently served as creator, showrunner, and executive producer of Starz’s critically-acclaimed Vida, which aired its third and final season this spring. The series featured all Latinx directors in season one, and all Latina directors in seasons two and three, including Saracho, who made her television directorial debut last year. The series had an all-Latinx writers room for seasons one and two, and in season three, the room was composed of all Latina writers.

Vida won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Comedy Series and was also honored by the National Hispanic Media Coalition with the 2019 Impact Award. The series won the Audience Award at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and made its season two premiere as an Official Selection of the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival.

“Tanya came on the scene like a comet with such a strong point of view and a drive to tell culturally diverse stories that push boundaries and open our imaginations. Oh, the places we will go with Tanya’s deep curiosity, experience, commitment, enthusiasm, joy and fervor to tell the diverse stories we haven’t explored on television yet. We are such fans of her work on Vida and are thrilled to partner with her,” said Dawn Olmstead, president, UCP.

“One of our goals at Universal Studio Group is to provide access through on the job training and opportunities to empower the next generation of culturally diverse storytellers. Tanya’s program fully embodies that intention and we look forward to supporting her as she mentors aspiring Latinx writers,” said Bonnie Hammer, chairman, Universal Studio Group. “This is the first of many programs we will be backing across our three studios.”

Saracho was recently honored by the LGBTQ California Legislative Caucus as their 2020 Pride Month Honoree. She received the Rising Star Award at the Outfest Legacy Awards, and was awarded the New Voice Award by Final Draft.

She’s the founder of Teatro Luna, the first all-Latina theatre company in the country, as well as the founder of ALTA (Alliance of Latino Theatre Artists).

Saracho’s other television writing/producing credits include Devious Maids, Looking and How to Get Away with Murder.

Gael Garcia Bernal to Star as Saul Armendariz, aka the Liberace of Lucha Libre, in the Biopic “Cassandro”

Gael García Bernal is hitting the ring to play a Lucha Libre legend.

The 41-year-old Mexican actor/filmmaker will star in Cassandroan independent feature from Oscar winning and two-time Emmy nominee filmmaker Roger Ross Williams.

Gael García Bernal

Cassandro tells the true story of Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso who rises to international stardom after he creates the “exotico” character Cassandro, the “Liberace of Lucha Libre,” and in the process upends not just the macho wrestling world but also his own life.

Armendáriz at the age of 15 quit school and began training for Lucha Libre, beginning his professional wrestling career in 1988 under the mask as Mister Romano. Ultimately he would abandon the character and take on the exotico character of Baby Sharon. Exoticos are male wrestlers who dress in drag.

Ultimately, Armendáriz would take the new ring name of Cassandro, from a Tijuana brothel keeper Cassandra whom he appreciated.

In January 1991, after bad press that he was going to wrestle El Hijo del Santo in the UWA World Welterweight Championship, Armendáriz reportedly attempted suicide by cutting his wrists with a razor blade, but was saved.

The title match occurred a week later and Armendáriz credits it as the match that earned him the lucha libre community’s acceptance.

While Cassandro failed to win the UWA World Welterweight Championship from El Hijo del Santo, he managed to win his first title, the UWA World Lightweight Championship in October 1992, by defeating Lasser, becoming the first exótico in history to hold a championship in UWA.

Bernal, who will star in M. Night Shyamalan’s new secret movie from Universal, will shoot that movie first before stepping into the ring for Cassandro, which is eyeing a November start in Mexico.

Cassandro will rep the feature narrative directorial debut for Williams, who took home the Oscar for his short docu Music by Prudence in 2010, and recently was nominated at the Emmys a second time, this time in Outstanding Documentary/Nonfiction Special category for the HBO doc The Apollo. That movie, which made its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, follows the historic and famed Harlem NYC venue and its legacy.

“As a filmmaker, my own life experience has inspired my passion to tell inspirational stories about outsiders and uplift the voices of people we don’t normally see on screen. The true story of Cassandro, Saúl Armendáriz, was one I knew I wanted to tell from the moment I met him. I look forward to being able to bring Saúl’s story to a wide audience,” said Williams.

Williams wrote Cassandro with Emmy-winner David Teague and Julián Herbert (Satelite).

Bernal is a two-time Golden Globe nominee and winner for the Amazon series Mozart in the JungleHe was part of the SAG ensemble nominated cast of Paramount’s Babeland a BAFTA nominee for Focus Features’ 2004 The Motorcycle Diaries

The filmmakers are reportedly in talks with Amazon to acquire Cassandro once complete, but that deal is contingent on several factors before it’s a negative pick-up.

Guillermo del Toro Taking Part in Tribeca Enterprises & YouTube’s ‘We Are One: A Global Film Festival’

Guillermo del Toro is taking his talk global…

The 55-year-old Oscar-winning Mexican filmmaker, author, actor, and former special effects makeup artist will take part in Tribeca Enterprises and YouTube’s We Are One: A Global Film Festival

Guillermo del Toro

The fest will stream exclusively on YouTubefor free and feature more than 100 films co-curated by 21 of the most renowned festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival, Venice Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Toronto Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival.

The 10-day fest kicked off on Friday, May 29 and will not only provide entertainment but also offer relief to the COVID-19 pandemic via supporting organizations.

The truly global event will feature programming from different cultures all over the world, with films representing more than 35 countries and include 23 narrative and 8 documentary features, 57 narrative and 15 documentary short films, 15 archived talks along with 4 festival exclusives and 5 VR programming pieces. 

The fest will include 13 world premieres, 31 online premieres and 5 international online premieres. Each selection was handpicked to give shine and highlight each participating festival.

“We are so excited to share the combined efforts of our festival partners and YouTube with the world this week,” said Tribeca Enterprises and Tribeca Film Festival Co-Founder and CEO Jane Rosenthal. “Together, we were able to curate a compelling slate of programming that succinctly reflects the subtle variations in style that make each festival so special. We Are One: A Global Film Festival will offer audiences an opportunity to not only celebrate the art of film, but the unique qualities that make each story we watch so memorable.”

The fest will include the world premiere of Ricky Powell: The Individualist, which spotlights the titular legendary street photographer featuring interviews with Natasha Lyonne and LL Cool J

Eeb Allay Ooo! will make its online debut and introduce a whole new audience to New Delhi’s professional “monkey repellers”. The satirical film won Mumbai Film Festival’s Golden Gateway Award

The iconic Joan Chen will present the world premiere of Iron Hammer, a documentary about legendary, trailblazing Chinese Olympic volleyball star Jenny Lang Ping.

There will also be a lineup of specially-curated talks from past festivals as well as new discussions. Talks will feature del Toro, Francis Ford Coppola with Steven Soderbergh, Song Kang-ho and Bong Joon-ho, Jane Campion and Claire Denis.

In addition to features, audiences will be able to access over 50 narrative and documentary shorts such as the world premiere of Japanese narrative short Yalta Conference Online (wt), which was created exclusively for the fest by director Koji Fukada. The fest will also include the global premiere of the Third Eye Blind documentary short Motorcycle Drive By, as well as shorts from Dreamworks Animation, BilbyMarooned and Bird Karma.

360 VR selections will feature Emmy-nominated documentary Traveling While Black and Alteration, a sci-fi narrative starring Bill Skarsgard, as well as titles featuring John Legend, Oprah Winfrey and Lupita Nyong’o. On top of the film goodness, Questlove from the legendary Roots crew will perform a DJ set for your listening and dancing pleasure.

On the episodic side, We Are One will host the world premiere of Losing Alice, an Israeli female-fronted neo-noir psychological TV thriller as well as the two-part docuseries She Could Be Next which chronicles the experiences of women of color running for office, including Stacey Abrams and  Rashida Tlaib.

In addition to Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Sundance, Toronto and Tribeca, participating festival also include Annecy International Animation Film FestivalBFI London Film FestivalGuadalajara International Film Festival,International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM), International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), Jerusalem Film FestivalMumbai Film Festival (MAMI), Karlovy Vary International Film FestivalLocarno Film Festival,Marrakech International Film Festival, New York Film FestivalSan Sebastian International Film Festival, Sarajevo Film FestivalSydney Film Festival and Tokyo International Film Festival.

The fest will provide COVID-19 relief through donations to the World Health Organization( WHO), UNICEFUNHCRSave the Children, Doctors Without BordersLeket IsraelGO Foundation and Give2Asia, among others. Audiences will be able to donate via a link on every film page.

Click herefor the full festival schedule.

“Long Gone Summer” Documentary, Highlighting Sammy Sosa’s 1998 Home Run Chase, Headed to ESPN

Sammy Sosa’s summeris heating up…

The 51-year-old Dominican former professional baseball right fielder will be the focus of a special documentary to air on ESPN.

Sammy Sosa

Sosa, who played in the Major League Baseballfor 19 seasons, primarily with the Chicago Cubs, is part of the focus of AJ Schnack’s, Long Gone Summer, an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.

It chronicles Mark McGwire and Sosa’s storied 1998 home run chase. For the first time, both men discuss that summer at length, including its undeniable complications.

The 1998MLB home run chase was between McGwire, a first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Seattle Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr., and Sosa, a right fielder for the Cubs. It resulted in McGwire and Sosa breaking Roger Maris‘ long-standing and highly coveted record of 61 home runs. 

McGwire broke Maris’s record on September 8 against the Cubs and finished with 70 home runs. Sosa finished with 66.

The documentary will air on Sunday, June 14 at 9:00 pm ET.

The film will be made available on ESPN+immediately after its premiere, along with the rest of the 30 for 30 library.

Vadhir Derbez to Star Opposite Guy Pearce in the Exorcism Horror Film “The Seventh Day”

Vadhir Derbezis getting some excorsize

The 28-year-old Mexican actor will co-star with Guy Pearce in Justin P. Lange’s exorcism horror movie The Seventh Day.

Vadhir Derbez

Pitched as “Training Day meets The Exorcist,“ the film follows a renowned exorcist who teams up with a rookie priest for his first day of training. As they plunge deeper into hell on earth, the lines between good and evil blur, and their own demons emerge.

Lange is directing from his own script. His credits include 2018 Tribeca Film Festivalpremiere The Dark, which was nominated for a Fangoria Chainsaw Awardfor Best First Featurein 2019.

The project is being produced by Fangoria, the horror brand owned by Dallas-based producer Cinestate

Shooting is scheduled to start in  February in Dallas and New Orleans.

Derbez’s previous credits include How to Be a Latin Loverand Netflix’s Sense8.

He has more than 4.2 million followers on Instagramand has been acting in Spanish-language content since he was six.

“Finding someone who can go toe-to-toe with Guy Pearce is no small task, but I’m confident we’ve found our man with Vadhir Derbez,” said director Lange.

Starz to Premiere Season 2 of Melissa Barrera’s Series “Vida” in May

Melissa Barrerais returning to lifethis May…

Starz has set Thursday, May 23 for the season 2 premiere of its critically praised series Vida, starring the 28-year-old Mexican actress and singer.

Melissa Barrera

All 10 half-hour episodes will be available on the Starz app and Starz On-Demandin the U.S. and Canada and on StarzPlay in the UK and Germany. 

The series will broadcast its linear premiere Sunday, May 26 at 8 PM, airing weekly for the following nine weeks. Vida Season 2 will make its world premiere as an Official Selectionof the upcoming 2019Tribeca Film Festival.

Created and executive produced by Tanya Saracho, Vida stars Barrera, Mishel PradaSer Anzoategui, Chelsea RendonCarlos Mirandaand recently announced Roberta ColindrezRaúl Castilloand Adrian Gonzalezjoin as guest stars this season.

Lyn and Emma begin the monumental task of rebuilding their mother’s business while navigating financial constraints, competing developers, and the growing anti-gentrification movement. Lyn and Emma must contemplate the relationships in their lives, including their own, and are forced to dig deep to unearth what their mother’s legacy means to them.

Hispanic-household viewing of Vida has nearly tripled since its premiere on Sunday, May 6, 2018, growing by 171% to earn the series the largest Hispanic audience composition for premium series in 2018, according to Starz. Additionally, on the Starz app, the series audience grew by more than 60% from the season premiere to the finale.