New York, N.Y. – HBO and the New York International Latino Film Festival (NYILFF) announced that The Acting Lesson, an original screenplay by Carmen Peláez, has been chosen as the 2012 winner of the HBO/NYILFF Short Film Competition. The screenplay tells the story of Emily, a rising starlet who interviews her director’s maid Pepa, claiming that she is doing research for her next big movie role. But when the questions get personal, Pepa is forced to delve deep into her own history, erasing the line between telenovela and real life.
In addition to receiving the $15,000 grand prize, an HBO creative executive will serve as a mentor toPeláez and consult during the production of the winning script to film. The short, which is being shot in the Miami area and co-directed by Peláez and Nicholas Calzada, will be exhibited during screenings at the New York International Film Festival, August 13-19, In New York City.
“I’ve wanted to jump into film work for a while now but couldn’t imagine where to begin,” said Peláez. “I’m thrilled that the NYILFF and everybody at HBO have given me this opportunity and I can’t wait to cannonball into the most creative pool of people working today.”
A graduate of the American Academy for the Dramatic Arts in New York City, Peláez received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for her solo play, Rum & Coke, which she’s performed in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and off-Broadway in New York City. Featured by Ted Koppel on a NIGHTLINE Friday Night Special along with her family, she became the first PS-NBC performer to sign a talent contract with the network and was a contributor on the Nightline/PBS co-production Life 360. Peláez has been featured in several independent films including A Very Serious Person by Charles Busch. Her collaboration with Pablo Cano in City Beneath the Sea, a play for marionettes, premiered at MOCA inMiami and was part of Art Basel in 2006. Her second collaboration with Cano, The Seven Wonders of the Modern World, also played at MOCA in 2011. Most recently she completed her second play Fake and was cast in Steven Soderbegh’s upcoming film A Bitter Pill. Currently, Peláez is developing a series of one-act plays called Loteria and her bilingual web series Julia.
Co-director Nicholas Calzada is a graduate of Yale University and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. A writer/director of films, documentaries and commercials, his short films have been shown at festivals in five continents. He is currently in development on his first feature film Sunset Bakery. Calzada is also a junior director at the commercial production company Magnet Filmworks, where he has directed a number of television and web spots.
2012 HBO/NYILFF Short Film Competition winner/2
HBO has been the presenting sponsor of the New York International Latino Film Festival for the past 13 years. The HBO/NYILFF Short Film Competition, created in 2004, seeks to foster films by Latino filmmakers and /or about the Latino experience.
Launched in 1999 by Calixto Chincilla, the New York International Latino Film Festival (NYILFF) is now the premier Urban Latino film event in the country. The NYILFF’s mission is to showcase the works of the hottest emerging Latino filmmaking talent in the U.S. and Latin America, offer expansive images of the Latino experience, and celebrate the diversity and spirit of the Latino community.