“McFarland USA” screening in San Jose

 

On Sunday March 1st Silicon Valley Latino (event media sponsor) had the pleasure of covering the Red Carpet Screening of Disney’s latest inspirational film “McFarland USA” at the Camera 12 Theater in San Jose.

 

The Red Carpet VIP screening was presented primarily by production company, LIFT360 (Latinos in Film & Television 360). This special screening celebrated achievement and diversity in Hollywood and beyond. Event organizers reached out to key community leaders, non-profit organizations and schools in creating an opportunity for guests to meet the actors of the film with hopes that their own respective stories of perseverance would inspire those in attendance. The demand was such that an another screening was added and as a result hundreds of inner city students from the San Jose community watched one of this years most inspiring movies. Attendees included students from many organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, Upward Bound, the Luis Valdez Leadership Academy, Franklin McKinley Children’s Initiative, Dual Immersion K-8th Middle School Cross Country Team, San Antonio Elementary School, James Lick High School Basketball, Mount Pleasant Cross Country Team, Somos Mayfair, Yerba Buena High School Running Club, LATISM (Latinos in Technology, Innovation and Social Media), Daughters of Farm Workers, Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, and more. A highlight of the day was when most guests had the opportunity to meet the actors and take pictures with them on the red carpet.

McFarland USA Screening San Jose

 

The primary objective of the event was to present at risk students with an opportunity to become motivated by the real life story of the inaugural McFarland cross country team. The film’s stars including Carlos Pratts, Johnny Ortiz, Rafael Martinez, Hector Duran, Sergio Avelar and Ramiro Rodriguez were in attendance for the red carpet segment as well as for the question and answer portion with students at the conclusion of the film.

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San Jose Vice Mayor Rose Hererra and City Council Member Raul Peralez presented event organizers, LIFT360, with a Certificate of Commendation from the City of San Jose. The festivities concluded with a private VIP Reception and Mixer at Chachos Mexican restaurant where special guests met with the actors in attendance and were treated to a special musical performance by “The People.”

 

Key collaborators in producing this inspiring event included Ron Gonzales – Former Mayor of San Jose and CEO of The Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley, Tony Arreola – Board Member of the Boys and Girls Club of Silicon Valley and Founder of Organica Fresh, Jorge Sanchez – Chacho’s Restaurant, Mario Burnias – LIFT 360, Ulysses Alvarado – Tu Visión Canal, Rudy Deanda – Blue Chip Restaurant and Henry Priest – Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles.

 

Stable Life: Movie Review

At the 23rd Annual Cinequest Film Festival running Feb 26 through March 10

inspiration
INSPIRATION- 
Films that give your mind & soul a boost!

Meet Dionicia, a mother of five, and her husband, Mario in the remarkable documentary, Stable Life by Director Sara MacPherson and Producer Tricia Creason-Valencia premiering Wednesday, February 27, 2013.

The Martinez’s life was stable while living and working at Bay Meadows of San Mateo, Calif. The family’s passion for the stable life, livelihood, and unity is cleverly projected in this documentary film, along with the unimaginable heartbreak that occurs afterwards. The racetrack is demolished, there is little work, the community is torn apart, and then the Martinez family is also separated.

By Eydie Mendoza

“A whole community that counts on it for a living,” reports the news anchor and 500-600 employees lost their job that day.

Leading up to the days of the Bay Meadow Racetrack closure on August 17, 2008, Stable Life a film by Director/Producer Sara MacPherson and Producer Tricia Creason-Valencia in (English and Spanish with English Subtitles) captures the life, hopes and dreams through the eyes of Dionicia Martinez, a stable hot walker a mother of five.

stable life premier 2.27.13

   Producer Sara MacPherson and Producer Tricia Creason-Valencia

In this documentary the passions and dreams of the stable workers are captured, welcoming the audience into the livelihood of the Martinez family and the community that nurtures the tracks.

Dionicia shares that her ultimate low was when she stole from a neighbor’s farm, back in Mexico, to cook for her family, and that she swore she did not want to live that way, or for her children to suffer as she did. She stresses that that’s no way to live, that a person can be a mother but it doesn’t mean a thing if you cannot feed your child.

Meet her husband Mario who works lives and works at the stables. Mario and Donicia came to the Unites States with hopes and dreams of a better life. They are skilled in caring for the horses. Their eldest son, Jose Luis was born in Mexico and crossed the border when he was a 12-year-old and becomes a horse jockey. Two of their sons Mario (Junior) and Homar are born in California, but Andres and Carlos stay behind with Mario parents.

Working conditions vary between tracks. At Bay Meadows they get room, board and $900 every 15 days. Dionicia and Mario share a room and the two boys have room, as well. While one might question these living conditions, the Martinez’s are grateful for to be together and for the basics, like running water.

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(Photo: Benoit Photography)

Experience the emotional heart break as Bay Meadows of San Mateo prepares to close and watch it crumble.

Just then a caller alerts the director, “Sarah … Dionicia and Mario were arrested and they might be deported very soon.”

What was stability for the Martinez family crumbles after the tracks close.

Producer Tricia Creason-Valencia quotes Dionicia, “The U.S. separates families.”

If you missed the premier of Stable Life on Wednesday, February 27, Cinequest Film Festival is scheduled to show on Sunday, March 3, 4pm and Tuesday, March 5, 7pm, but check the guide for updated times and location http://www.cinequest.org.

 

I Am a Director: Movie Review

At the 23rd Annual Cinequest Film Festival running Feb 26 through March 10

LAUGHS

LAUGHS – Don’t take life too seriously

What do you get when you cross ROCKY with THE OFFICE? You get a hilarious Puerto Rican send-up film called I Am a Director by Director Javier Colon Rios and starring Carlos Marchand and Joa Tous. In one funny scene, Carlos (the protagonist) describes his unmade film as having the colors of The Matrix and the camera movement of Memento. (What? Yes, it is that zany at times)

By Jose Posadas

I Am a Director (in Spanish with English subtitles) tells the story of Carlos (Carlos Marchand) a wannabe director whose complete (not to mention  unbalanced) enamoration of all that is Hollywood sets him off on a mission to create the best Hollywood picture ever made… in Puerto Rico.

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Filmed in the style of The Office and other mockumenataries, Carlos, aided by producer/friend/love interest Joa (Joa Tous), set out on their mis-adventure in producing their very first film. The laughs in this film are quick and constant throughout this film beginning with the scenes of Carlos and Joa going on a sales pitch to promote their film to potential investors despite the fact they have no script and no measurable experience in film making.

As he speaks to one possible investor Carlos boasts about his experience living in Hollywood for all of two years and proudly states that his film will be made in English. Which is probably not with his Spanish-speaking potential investor wants to hear.

Early in the journey of making his film Carlos realizes the challenges in making his dream come true, from having to raise money, to getting permission to film on location as well as the film festival circuit he must undertake to promote his still undeveloped film. Faced with such seemingly insurmountable obstacles he likens himself to the Rocky Balboa of filmmakers.

In one scene, captured by their documentarian, Carlos admits, “I have no actors, I have no story, no money.. I have nothing”, yet ever the eternal optimist (or fool, take your pick) Carlos, channeling his inner Scarlett O’hara, proclaims, “I will get it done!”

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Delivered with deadpan seriousness Carlos (the actor) gives a memorable performance as the ill-fated director. His costar Joa is equally as funny as she is beautiful.  She too delivers a wonderful comic performance both touching and sweet.

Real Director Javier Colon Rios does a marvelous job in telling the story of his protagonist as well as providing  genius comic touches like inserting quotes from both real and fictitious people (including himself) throughout the film.  The final credits (bloopers) and ending trailer are worth the price of admission alone- DON’T LEAVE YOUR SEATS OR YOU MAY MISS MAYBE THE FUNNIEST SCENES OF THE ENTIRE MOVIE!

Those who see this film will not be disappointed and you will find yourself cheering Carlos on and laughing your kidney off along the way.

To see the most current full lineup of films, ticket information and event schedule go to www.cinequest.org

I Am a Director will be shown Thurs 2/28 9:30pm and Mon 3/4 4:00pm

HABANASTATION Movie Review

At the 23rd Annual Cinequest Film Festival running Feb 26 through March 10

inspiration

INSPIRATION- Films that give your mind & soul a boost!

Imagine being a tween stranded in an unfamiliar side of town and experiencing a rite of passage in one day. That is what happens to Mayito (Ernesto Escalona) but lucky for him he runs into his classmate, Carlitos (Andy Fornaris), who accompanies and befriends him in this journey. This film is great for the entire family. Experience a time in life where ignorance and innocence are blissful, where Mayito and Carlitos develop a sense of gratitude for what they have and don’t have. Fall in love, fly a kite, roam in the rain without shoes, and learn to stand up for yourself in HABANASTATION; it’s no game.

 

By Eydie Mendoza

Mario, also known as Mayito, a 12-year-old boy happens upon his rite of passage in the film HABANASTATION/HAVANASTATION from Director Ian Padron.

Set in Habana, Cuba (Spanish with English subtitles) the film centers around Mayito (Ernesto Escalona) who is sheltered by his overprotective mother, Moriama (Blanca Rosa Blanco) and has a famous musician father, Pepe Arlay (Luis Alberto Garcia) who is more down to earth than his mother.  He is fortunate, coming from a wealthy family where he has a carefree life. Mayito is a friendless, single child, and even owns the latest Playstation games.

He and his classmates prepare to celebrate May Day with readings in the school courtyard and for a field trip, but like most children they share more enthusiasm about playing video games.  Teacher Claudia (Claudia Alvarino) cares about her students, and promises Moraima that she will watch Mayito after the May Day parade.

“La vida esta muy dura,” says his father as they enjoy a roasted chicken adorned with bell peppers for dinner and drink imported wine. Immediately after dinner, his father gives him a Playstation III game.

The following day, after the May Day festivities and parade Mayito gets separated from his class and his adventure begins when he mistakenly takes the wrong bus. After requests that the driver stop to let him off, he walks through the unfamiliar neighborhood filled with people and children playing in the dirt roads.

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Fortunately he runs into Carlos (Andy Fornaris) an acquaintance from school that lives there in a shack with his grandmother (Miriam Socarras).  As they walk over to use a phone at the neighbor’s house, Mayito relizes that “La vida esta muy dura (life is hard)” for his classmate, yet in spite of having to work, save money to buy his own toys, and cook his own meals,  Carlitos too is a bit carefree.

Throughout their adventures in the barrio, the boys tease each other about their ignorance but have a bonding experience when they compare their relationships with their fathers, who are not around much. One father was incarcerated for self-defense and the other is a traveling musician.

The teacher finally remembers that Carlitos lives in the vicinity where the bus driver left Mayito, so she alerts the parents, and meets up with the grandmother at the shack.

Mayito not only grows from this experience but he learns about sacrifice, develops a sense of independence and appreciation for others.

Viewers seeking to gain insight into a day in the life of two boys who develop a friendship, learn about each other’s lives, and discover how to have fun in el barrio de la tinta in Havana, Cuba are invited to join Mayito and Carlitos as they get into mischief, play in the rain, learn to solve problems and share Mayito’s first crush.

To see the most current full lineup of films, ticket information and event schedule go to www.cinequest.org

Habanastation will be shown Thurs 2/28 4:15pm, Tues 3/5 6:45pm, Sat 3/9 11am

Bel Borba Aqui Film Review

Brazilian artist Bel Borba | Photo courtesy of Cinequest

Meet Brazilian artist Bel Borba of Salvador da Bahia through an awe-inspiring documentary (English and Portuguese with English subtitles) about the man who loves his city as he, through his vast imagination and unlimited canvases, embellishes it.

The film, written and directed by Burt Sun and André Costantini, opens with Bel and an assistant crew at a decayed building frame, and he talks about the history of other fallen structures just like it throughout the city, he paints the exposed metal beams with white paint using a small paint roller. When he is done speaking, the camera pans out and the metal beams come to life with the patterned mural made up of cultural expressions.

Brazilian artist Bel Borba here stands next to one of his Mosaic Murals in Salvador du Bahia | Photo courtesy of Cinequest

“People from Bahia are very much on love with our town,” says Bel. “I have such a close relationship with my town where I was born, where I live.”

He is considered a gift to his town.

We follow the artist through the city and neighborhoods to discover what inspires him and experience the passion for his culture, people and home town. The open market, a small ranch, his back yard and an old boat yard all attribute to images in his work.

“I am a man that is moved by  passion. I just feel things.”

He works from small scale on single ceramic tiles to larger than life scale murals made of broken tiles –wood and ceramic – and his crew solders and saws out sculptures from steel and metal, as well.

“There’s my rocket!” Bel refers to a Christmas tree sculpture that he created from metal bars and plastic Coke bottles strung on rope; at night it is illuminated with green lights to be seen for quite a distance.

Director Burt Sun says, “Bel has tattooed the city with his art.”

Live like Bel as he eats, sings, works and sleeps in this creative film production that incorporates ten lapse photography and animation techniques. Feel the artist’s exhaustion while working on his masterpieces as he falls asleep on benches and the floor. One can almost taste the marinated steak dinner he cooks for friends. Feel free to sing along or whistle, if you know the tune, while he creates.

The Bel Borba Aqui world premier will be featured Sunday, March 4 during Cinequest 22 Film Festival in San Jose at Camera 12 at 6:30PM and experience a live painting by Bel.

Coming Soon the SVL exclusive interview with Director/Writer Burt Sun during the Film Festival!

Sal Movie Review

Goya Award-Winning Spanish Actor Fele Martinez in Sal

Sergio played by Fele Martinez in Sal | Photo Courtesy of Cinequest

Also being featured at the 22nd Annual Cinequest running February 28 to March 11, is the Spanish/Chilean movie Sal/Salt, a fanciful and loving homage to the western genre that brings to mind classic westerns from John Ford to Sergio Leone. Director Diego Rougier’s story depicts the life of Sergio (Fele Martinez) a screenwriter with a very bad script. His western is so poorly written and lacks a compelling story, that he is told by his agent that even the names of the characters are awful. His only recourse in salvaging his script is to go to the very place where his fictional story is set, the Atacema Desert in Chile, where he hopes to bring life to a dead plot.

In doing so Sergio becomes a character in a real life western thriller when he is mistaken for someone else with a secret past and a very angry enemy. After accepting an invitation from a stranger who has mistaken him for someone named Diego, Sergio is soon abducted by a mysterious villain named Victor, played by Patricio Contreras. Sergio is whisked away to a secluded shack surrounded by nothing but desert and an old man who becomes his unwilling caretaker.

Chilean Actress Javiera Contador in Sal

Javiera Contador in Sal | Photo Courtesy of Cinequest & Fesia Saldias

Sergio/Diego’s trials get even more complicated when he is visited by a sultry and fiery woman, played seductively by Javiera Contador, who was once Diego’s lover. Her passion for Diego/Sergio is still explosive as is her anger towards him for having left her behind. Sergio, for his part, is absolutely clueless to her past as he is to everything else that now seems to have befallen him.

It is in this state of uncertainty that life imitates art as our poor protagonist tries to uncover the mystery unfolding before him while at the same time trying to edit his script using cues from this real life drama.

Like all good scripts the protagonist must have an antagonist, a villain, and in Sergio/Diego’s case that person is Victora nemesis seeking payback for what Diego has done to him.

The film is beautifully shot with wide vistas of the Chilean desert and requisite scenes popular in western films. Sal is a fun combination of parody and classic western drama. The film serves to remind us, as noted by Sergio’s agent, that a movie has to tell you something, whether a movie script or reality life can spring from even the driest desert.

Catch this western Sal/Salt – is in Spanish w/English subtitles – at Cinequest Twenty Two Film Festival.