By Christine Davila
The 35th CineFestival, which takes place in San Antonio Feb. 23 – Mar 2, has unveiled the launch of The Latino Screenwriters Project, a screenwriting conference in which Sundance Institute is lending critical consulting support. The three day workshop aims to elevate the presence, representation and quality of stories that narrate the U.S. Latino experience.
Fellows will be provided a network of support in a hands-on environment where they can get quality feedback, mentoring and inspiration to further hone their craft, polish their screenplays and take their stories to the next level.
Festival Director, Jim Mendiola along with filmmaker Cruz Angeles (Don’t Let Me Drown), both Sundance alumni fellows, conceived of the program and turned to Sundance Institute for support. “Cruz and I both recognized the benefit of the Sundance Labs both in terms of a career and in improving one’s craft,” Mendiola says, “since we wanted to champion Latino stories, bringing an experience like that to CineFestival seemed liked the perfect fit.”
“Latinos are yearning for more access and representation in American cinema,” Angeles says, “We want American-based Latino screenplays to be more competitive in the industry.”
Labs Director of the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, Ilyse McKimmie adds, “We’re thrilled to be providing consulting support to CineFestival’s Latino Screenwriters Project, the goals of which so closely align with our own. It’s part of our ongoing commitment to encourage and celebrate a diverse group of storytellers and helping them bring their visions to the screen.”
In addition to the previously announced film lineup, CineFestival has added a special screening of Narco Cultura directed by Shaul Schwarz and produced by Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen. The film recently premiered in U.S. Documentary Competition at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and the Berlin Film Festival in its distinguished Panorama section. Strikingly lensed, it is an explosive look at the drug cartels’ pop culture influence on both sides of the border as experienced by an LA narcocorrido singer dreaming of stardom and a Juarez crime scene investigator on the front line of Mexico’s Drug War. Thought provoking and prescribed viewing, I’m excited for San Antonio audiences to engage with the sociological complexities in the film. Tickets available here.
The four projects chosen for the inaugural 2013 workshop below. The full press release can be found here and for passes, tickets, and schedule information check here. Follow CineFestival on Twitter and Facebook.
· Gabi by Zoe Salicrup Junco
After the unexpected death of her mother, a modern, emancipated Puerto Rican woman in her late 30s forces herself to explore the possibilities of becoming a mother for the first time.
· La Perdida by Miguel Alvarez
In the mid-21st century, a memory-wiped psychiatric patient illegally travels back in time to stop a tragedy she can’t remember from happening all over again. But along the way, she can’t help but get swallowed up in a Moebius strip of time, memory, and loss.
· Rachel’s Quinceanera by Mauro Flores Jr. (Los Angeles, CA)
A coming-of-age story set in South Texas. A shy nerd has a crush on the head cheerleader, but due to his social status Rachel doesn’t know he exists. But a family obligation forces Rachel to include the nerd in the Court of Honor for her upcoming Quinceañera.
· The Andes Project by Jose R. Casado (New York, NY)
When Sofia, an opportunistic American Latina journalist, attempts to revive her career by investigating mysterious disappearances in Paraguay, she teams up with an idealistic young local reporter doing the same and together they uncover a complex water conspiracy instead.