Hispanicize 2013 Expands Film Festival Vision With Focus on Empowering Filmmakers

April 9-13, 2013 at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach

By Amalia Gutierrez

The 2012 Hispanicize Latino Film Showcase was just a taste of great things to come for Latino filmmakers creating content on film and TV.  In 2013 there will be a full-fledged film festival at Hispanicize 2013 that will blow your socks off according to Manny Ruiz, Founder and  and Creative Director of Hispanicize 2013 and Roman Morales, Festival Curator.

“The goal of the Hispanicize 2013 Film Festival is to showcase ‘The Next Generation’ of U.S. Latino filmmakers,” says Morales. “We want to be the launchpad for the future Robert Rodriguezs, Guillermo del Toros or Alejandro González Iñárritus.”

There are several ways Hispanicize 2013 plans on reaching their goal.  In addition to various venues for screenings that will take place over a course of four days, the focus of the panel sessions will be on the business and marketing of Latino films; they will launch their first Latino Filmmakers Marketplace to help connect independent Latino filmmakers directly to investors and distributors; there well be at least one Latino celebrity or business professional in the film industry selected as one of the 2013 Latinovators, an honor that this year was bestowed on Emilo Estefan, Univision’s Maria Elena Salinas, Cesar Milan, and Nely Galan

In 2013 expect a lot more star power says Ruiz.  Adding to this star power is the selection of award-winning CNN TV host, Soledad O’Brien (Starting Point) who has been named Co-Chair and one of the Latinovators of Hispanicize 2013.   “It’s a true honor to co-chair Hispanicize 2013 because in the midst of this huge cultural shift in our nation we should welcome an event that provides opportunities of journalists to hone their skills and network with Latinos in media, social media, entertainment and marketing,” O’Brien said.

The group of industry influencers on board to help guide the Hispanicize 2013 Film Festival agenda include Calixto Chinchilla, Executive Director of the New York International Latino Film Festival; Bel Hernandez, CEO of Latin Heat Media and co-founder of the Hispanicize 2013 Film Festival;  Jaie Laplante, Executive Director of the Miami International Film Festival; Ivette Rodriguez, CEO of American Entertainment Marketing; Hugo Perez, award winning producer and Director of Hispanic Marketing for The Zocalo Group; and Monica Taher, Business Development Director Getty Images Hispanic and Getty Images Latin America.

“As an independent film maker and a brand marketer, it is very exciting to be a part of such an influential event that ties these areas together and provides tools, insights, connections and inspiration for the next great Latino storyteller,” Hugo Perez. 

We recently spoke with Manny Ruiz and Roman Morales about the strategic partnerships, the integration of the various tracks, the content, the co-chairs, and Latinovators and all the other elements that help them create this one-of-a kind Hispanicize 2013 Film Festival.

LATIN HEAT: How will the Hispanicize 2013 Film Festival differ from the 2012 Film Showcase?

MANNY RUIZ:  In 2013 we will be working a lot closer with our filmmakers.  There will be a dedicated PR person assigned to just the coverage of our film festival track.   We will be publicizing their films as soon as they are accepted into the festival, we will be reaching out to both Latino media and mainstream media, and more significantly to bloggers.  We will also be featured on our Hispanicize 2013 dedicated filmmaking microsite.

ROMAN MORALES:   Hispanicize 2013 is comprised of four tracks Film, Music, Interactive, and Marketing.  Each of the other tracks play a key role in the life of a film or TV project.  The convergence of the different tracks will serve to inform filmmakers on how to utilize that knowledge and apply it to their projects.

It’s all about empowering filmmakers with knowledge, in addition to showcasing their film to industry and mainstream audiences.  The filmmakers will have someone advocating for them and promoting their film

LH:  What kinds of films are you looking for?

RM:  Hispanicize seeks Latino filmmakers with a unique vision. The stories may be the  same, but we are looking for filmmakers who have a unique voice or storytelling technique.  We want to hear from filmmakers who are willing to out on a creative limb, willing to take us on a journey – whatever that is

And we want it all  — Latinos with Latino themed.  Latino themed films made by non-Latinos, Films made by Latinos with no Latino themes….we want to see it all 

LH:  Hispanicize is a major undertaking.  What is your vision for this film festival and the event as a whole? 

MR:  As a film festival we want to be a launching pad for ideas, trends, new films, marketing campaigns.  We want to encourage breakthroughs in the film world and in every industry.

We want Hispanicize to be the breakthrough platform for talented Latinos in every industry especially the content production industries of film, music, TV and all the tracks especially the content.

Soledad O’Brien, Hispanicize Co-Chair

To this  end we have a National Advisory Board comprised of more than 40 Latino brand marketing executives and influencers from the industries of advertising, public relations, journalism, social media, film, music, business and technology.  This year we want to take this event to a whole different level and we have taken very deliberate steps to do this.  To begin with Soledad O’Brien has come on board as Co-Chair of Hispanicize 2013 and she will also be one of our 2013 Latinovators.

Having Soledad as co-chair of Hispanicize will help us lay the foundation for the Hispanic Journalist Showcase, a new track, which will focus on providing Hispanic journalists with professional development training, and the networking opportunities they need to succeed.

Soledad is representative of the fact that we are no longer going to allow this event to be about Latinos covering Latinos.  It’s going to be about the mainstream media discovering the best of Latino culture at Hispanicize.

It’s very important that we get media coverage from the CNNs, the ABCs, CBS’S, NBC’s and other mainstream broadcasters of the world – not just their Latino divisions but also the general market.  Soledad Obrien is obviously mainstream success that happens to be Latina.  Well we need a lot more of those and we want that mainstream media to discover that talent at Hispanicize.

LH:  Tell us about some of your strategic partnerships

MR:  We want to invite and collaborate with other film festivals, organizations, and influencers.  We realize that our platform is a very unique monster .  It has all the elements of a traditional film festival with the injection of  journalist, blogger, marketers and brands gathered under the umbrella of Hispanicize, which is not easily replicated because of the overarching value proposition that Hispanicize is bringing people from different industries under one roof at—all at one time.

To this end, we have also added two noted film festival directors to our Film Festival Committee,  Calixto Chinchilla, (New York International Latino Film Festival) and Jaie Laplante (Miami International Film Festival) who have extensive experience.  We will have the benefit of their curating and film selection expertise.  Ivette Rodriguez, one of the premiere film marketers in Hollywood; Hugo Perez, both as an independent filmmaker but also the Director of Hispanic Marketing at The Zocalo Group.  Our partnership with Getty Images Hispanic and Getty Images Latin America through Monica Taher,  key in the documenting of, not only the filmmaking track, but also the whole Hispanicize event.  Latin Heat Media, an established brand in Hollywood, and our West Coast liaison.

LH:  The call for submissions was recently put out and I know you have already begun to receive submissions.  Why would a filmmaker want to submit to Hispanicize 2013?

RM:  We have done more outreach to filmmakers, a lot earlier this time around, and once accepted our PR team goes into action to promote their participation.  We will also be giving out a feature film jury prize of $1,000 and the winner of this prize will also get a $500 maximum reimbursement for airfare and an additional $500 toward room and board for the winner.  The prize for the Short Film category is $500, the winner of this will also get the $500 reimbursement for both airfare and room and board.

We are shaping up to be the most complete festival in the U.S. for Latinos. By bringing the influencers, marketers, media and brands all under one roof and getting them excited about the films at Hispanicize — it’s a win-win.

As we saw in the recent elections there is more of an urgency than ever before to reach out to Latinos – Hispanicize 2013 is the conduit to reach them all.

To submit your film to Hispanicize 2013 CLICK HERE  

The early submission deadline for feature and short films is January 21st. The late submission deadline is February 18th.  Films must be received by these dates; postmarks do not count toward the deadline. Refer to the FAQ with any questions. Films selected to be in the festival will be notified in late February.