NALIP 2013 Conference Wrap Up!

Special thanks to Beni Matias, Acting Executive Director, Octavio Marin, Conference Director, as well as Rosa Alonso and Natalia Almada, Conference Chairs, and all the many staff and volunteers of NALIP 2013 for your hard work, pulled off with so much "ganas" and heart and inspiration for our community.

Many participants felt this is the best conference we've ever had.  Panels were packed, and we even had to turn people away from some of our overflowing events – our opening night film was standing room only (special thanks to our Trustee Gerry Lopez for the AMC Sheraton Universal theater – on a Friday night in June no less).  Our members are self-reflective professionals thinking strategically about where we stand and where we can go in film and video.  World-renowned film critic and tastemaker Richard Peña's Friday keynote was exactly what so many of us hungered for as he encouraged us to place ourselves within a moment of film history and to find our voices within the pantheon of film and culture – not just within a "market." Glenn Llopis' Saturday keynote inspired many to clap spontaneously as his motivational speaking pointed out our strengths as "immigrant voices."  

Kirk Whisler's marketing panel, Rosa Alonso's new media and social justice panel, Joe Torres' panel on the future of online media, Frank Bennet Gonzalez' showrunners panel, and Beni Matias and Louis Perego Moreno's opening panel on our "Latino Trillion Dollar Market" as well as so many others, including some put together by our sister organizations such as WGA and Scripps, were packed to the gills.

We had more presence than ever from actors at NALIP – from established La Bamba star Esai Morales  and Goodfellas’ Ray Liotta to the luminous Michele Rodriguez and the bubbly Gina Rodriguez. Lupe Ontiveros’ tribute from her sons, one of whom has been a volunteer driver for NALIP for a decade, had everyone in tears, and Danny Trejo's Lifetime Achievement acceptance speech embodied the essence of a man who has spent a lifetime as a background actor but always brought his "A game" to each role, and who has found redemption in his artwork and his volunteer work as a drug recovery sponsor for others. There was also much joy and lightness too!  At the Saturday gala, host Joe Hernandez-Kolski's wonderful comic timing had us all in stiches, and the legendary Charo joined our party to everyone's delight!

The Estela Awards, sponsored by McDonald’s, were presented to Ben DeJesus for Tales of a Ghetto Klown and to Aurora Guerrero for Mosquita y Mari.  We give a shout out to HBO, Time Warner, The National Endowment for the Arts, Comcast/NBCUniversal, ABC/Disney, SAG-P IACF, and LPB, among other funders and supporters who have been in NALIP’s corner for over a decade.

There were so many important moments – from our discussions on Latinos and the public media moderated by Cynthia Lopez, to our closing plenary showcasing the cream of the crop in Latino directors shattering stereotypes and bringing new visions of Latinidad in all their glorious complexity to the screen, including none other than our very first Latina MacArthur Genius, and longtime NALIP documama and NALIP Latino Producers Academy graduate, Natalia Almada.  A special thank you to Louis Perego Moreno of the conference committee in not only pulling that together, but also for babysitting NPR correspondent Mandalit Del Barco's feisty toddler during the panel so that she could moderate!  At NALIP, we believe in Familia, like all good Latinos!

One of the best indications of how strong our community has become, and how joyous our conference is, would be our legendary parties.  On Saturday night, after the gala, after all the hotel bars had closed down, and even after my Chair's nightcap had run out of liquor and appetizers by 1am, over a hundred people, including some of our stars such as Esai Morales, hung out together in laughter and conversation, with not a single drink or appetizer left, until the sun came up the next day, to connect, to laugh, to commiserate, and to dream together, in a quiet empty ballroom at the top of the Sheraton Hotel.

We are already looking forward to our Quinceañera, NALIP's "Sweet Fifteen" in 2014, and invite you to join us early and send us any ideas for guests, contacts for new sponsorships, and partnerships!

Maria Agui Carter
Chairman of the Board of NALIP