Despite success of Mexican filmmakers, there’s still a lot of work to do

The recent annual 88th Academy Awards ceremony was surrounded by controversy for its lack of African American nominees, but Latinos at least had the pleasure of watching Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Emmanuel Lubezki, Mexican-born filmmakers who worked together on The Revenant, receive major awards. Although Mad Max: Fury Road stole the show by winning six Oscars, Iñárritu and Lubezki took home Best Director and Best Cinematography, respectively, for their work on The Revenant. This marked the third year in a row that a Mexican director has won in the directing category, and this was Lubezki’s third Oscar for Best Cinematography in four years. Iñárritu, who also won Best Director in 2015 for Birdman, is taking Hollywood by storm, as is Lubezki, by having their work recognized widely by the public and awarded top Academy honors. The success of Iñárritu and Lubezki, and a few other Mexican and Mexican American film artists, has created an atmosphere of hope for Hispanics trying to make it big in Hollywood and is inspiring young Latino talent to continue on the path of filmmaking.

8 examples of the problem Hollywood has portraying Mexico and Mexicans

He lives in the desert or in a dangerous place, wears a big hat, sports a mustache, and sleeps under a cactus bush. She cleans fancy houses, takes care of Anglo children and lives in a drug-infested neighborhood. These are just some of the portrayals of Mexicans and Mexico in several popular Hollywood movies. Other stereotypes of our neighbors south of the border: vicious criminals, heartless drug dealers, poor, uneducated undocumented immigrants. But that’s only one side of the story.

Mexican filmmakers erasing borders with their talent

“Who gave this son of a bitch his green card?” said Sean Penn handing an Oscar for best picture to Mexican-born Film Director Alejandro González Iñárritu at the recent film Academy Awards. Talent. His talent gave him a green card. What was meant as an inside joke sparked outrage in immigrants all over the country.

Documental vuelve a encender debate sobre la muerte de Rubén Salazar

By Kay Bárbaro

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WASHINGTON — A pesar de la convicción declarada del productor de Hollywood, Phillip Rodríguez, con respecto a que el homicidio de Rubén Salazar, director de noticias de KMEX TV (Los Ángeles), cometido hace 44 años, fue un accidente, dos públicos independientes —uno en Washington, D.C., y otro en Long Beach, California— que vieron el preestreno del documental de 54 minutos, no concuerdan con él. Algunos dijeron, además, que aunque trató de hacer un caldo de cultivo para exponer un mal, solamente logró un refrito para la televisión. El programa, Rubén Salazar: Man in the Middle, saldrá a nivel nacional el 29 de abril por la red pública de televisión, PBS. Respondiendo a la invitación de PBS, 125 personas valientes —incluyendo las del equipo del Hispanic Link, el reportero Aaron Montes y el editor Charlie Ericksen, acompañados por Peter Copeland, quien formó parte de la fundación de periodismo de Scripps-Howard—, se aventuraron la noche del 27 de febrero, con temperaturas bajo cero, a ver el documental en el auditorio del Museo de Arte Americano, del Instituto Smithsoniano, en el noroeste de Washington, D.C.

En la otra costa, con temperaturas más cálidas, el profesor y activista Armando Vásquez Ramos invitó a un grupo de 350 jóvenes universitarios al teatro de la California State University, Long Beach, el 10 de marzo, y poco después 100 invitados asistieron a la recepción y discusión que siguió. Al productor del documental, Rodríguez, se le unió Phil Móntez, gran amigo de Salazar, jubilado recientemente de su cargo de director regional de la costa oeste para la U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Documentary revives debate over Rubén Salazar’s death

By Kay Bárbaro

Lea esta historia en español

WASHINGTON — In spite of independent Hollywood producer Phillip Rodríguez’s stated belief that the killing of KMEX-TV (Los Angeles) news director Rubén Salazar 44 years ago was accidental,  two separate audiences – in Washington, D.C., and Long Beach, Calif. — that previewed his 54-minute television documentary, beg to differ. Where there was grist for an exposé, a TV rehash resulted, some say. The program — Rubén Salazar: Man in the Middle — is scheduled to run nationally April 29 on the Public Broadcasting Service network. Responding to PBS invitations, 125 brave souls, including Hispanic Link’s reporter/editor team Aaron Montes/Charlie Ericksen along with Scripps-Howard Journalism Foundation member Peter Copeland ventured into the sub-freezing night of Feb.

The film Man in the Middle on the life of journalist Rubén Salazar premieres in Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON — Phillip Rodriguez’s documentary Man in the Middle on the life of slain journalist Rubén Salazar has great meaning for the U.S. Latino community and Hispanic media in this country, according to many attending its first showing. The 54-minute documentary, which premiered here Feb. 27 at the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, describes the controversy that gripped an entire culture and the racial and social issues of the 1960s and 1970s. The crowd of 125 heard a brief statement from U.S. Representative Xavier Beccera  (D-Calif.) who said it was beneficial for the Hispanic community to bring to the public eye the life of the martyred Latino journalist. Salazar’s grandson Jackson Cook, son of his daughter Stephanie, who makes a couple of appearances in the film, drove the five-hour trip with his girlfriend Melissa Millen from his home in New York to attend the event.

The Miner Movie Makers

EL PASO — At the beginning of the school year in the fall semester of 2009, Bobby Gutierrez had an ambitious group of students in his Intro to Video class. Among those students were Stephanie Soto, Joel Gannon, and myself, Michael Huante. Through the course of the semester, the three of us worked on projects together and with other students, and forged a friendship that holds strong to this day. Stephanie Soto, a senior Digital Media major, came up with an idea by the end of the semester, and told Joel and I about it. She expressed her thoughts on the fact that UTEP didn’t have much going in the area of film, and that something had to be done about it.

They Call Him … Machete

EL PASO, Texas — Hot chicks, big guns, blood flowing, a few laughs and a big guy they call Machete, oh my! Can you expect any less from a Robert Rodriguez flick? Rodriguez, a native Texan has been releasing his signature gritty, home-edited films since he began his film-directing career in 1991. The Mariachi brought notoriety and led to some of the most notable films today such as Desperado, From Dusk Til Dawn, and Sin City. In 2007, Rodriguez teamed up with Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, and Rob Zombie to release a double feature Grindhouse type film, Planet Terror, and Death Proof.

Students’ Big-screen Dreams Shine at the Sun City Film Festival

EL PASO, Texas — The Sun City Film festival, supposedly a biannual event, seemed forgotten after a three-year absence, but finally it came back to life giving student film makers another opportunity to show El Paso their movie-making skills. Patrick Mullins, senior lecturer in the Communication department at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), first envisioned the festival as a biannual event, but things did not exactly turn out the way he had planned. “It had been three years. I think the original idea was if not a yearly than to have a biannual festival and because of other projects three years have gone by,” Mullins said. “We thought it was high time to have a student film festival here on campus again.”

The Sun City Film festival came back —April 30-May 1—and the response to it from the student filmmakers was positive.

Miner Movie Makers Splash the Sun City on the Big Screen

EL PASO, Texas — El Paso’s border culture generates nationwide interest because of its unique history —its Hispanic-Texican roots and cowboy folklore— and has been a signature element in many major films such as Glory Road and Border Town. But the border city has yet to produce a great filmmaker. Some students believe that filmmaking is almost a foreign concept at the University of Texas at El Paso, but Michael Huante and Joel Gannon and a few others hope that attitude will be changed by Miner Movie Makers, a new organization at UTEP that aspires to ignite a movement in film that goes well beyond the norm. The idea to start Miner Movie Makers originated in October when Stephanie Soto, who is now the president of the organization, was applying to grad school and realized that most film students at UTEP don’t have much to put on their resume. When she pitched her idea to Michael Huante, who is now the vice president and Joel Gannon, secretary, they jumped on board.

Filmmaker Guillermo Arriaga Portraits ‘Other’ Realities of the Border

LAS CRUCES, N.M. — Whether it’s a giant fence separating Mexico and the United States or a less tangible barrier like language between people, borders are evident in most of director Guillermo Arriaga’s films. His latest, The Burning Plain, is set in the city of  Las Cruces, New Mexico near the U.S.-Mexico border. “We’re tired that this is just a place of drugs and immigration. It’s also a place of love stories,” said Arriaga, at a press conference for a screening of his new film in Las Cruces. “Of course, there are also tensions because of it, but they are not the only reality.”

Arriaga has made a career telling the stories of ordinary people whose lives are intertwined in ways they never realized. The Burning Plain is no different and follows the story of several different people in different parts of the country.