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December 1, 2011 ANNOUNCEMENTS    NEWS    JOBS & OPPORTUNITIES
 
 
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Foreign, For Now

By Frances Negrón-Muntaner, director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University and member of the NALIP Board of Advisors. Click here to read this article in Spanish.

It's no secret that there is something magical about the movies and here is a bit of evidence: Last month, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, better known as the entity that awards the Oscars, miraculously resolved Puerto Rico's political status without a referendum and without telling anyone but the island's film commissioner, Mariella Pérez Serrano.

And this is how they did it: By simply writing a letter through which the Academy unceremoniously dashed the hopes of a Puerto Rico-made film titled América (accent on the "e") from being considered for an Oscar in the "foreign language" category. In snubbing América, the brief letter further reiterated the Academy's new policy toward submissions from Puerto Rico: that entries from the island will no longer be accepted under the foreign language rubric because its inhabitants are US citizens.

The reasoning behind this change of status is not clear. There are some who believe that the Academy stopped considering Puerto Rico-made movies for fear that they would have to accept Spanish-language films produced by US directors, a prospect that would open up even more opportunities of recognition for a cinema that can be seen everywhere in the world. Others think that Mexican-American directors want to put a stop to the policy out of the belief that island Puerto Ricans are getting a free ride since they can compete under the foreign language category without residing in a sovereign country.

Regardless of the Academy's motives, the first flaw in their logic is the very notion that Spanish is a language foreign to the United States. Spanish was not only the first European language spoken in the territory presently occupied by the US, it has also persisted as an important form of communication and expression across the nation ever since. Today, over 50 million Spanish speakers call America home, a fact that makes the US the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, only behind the Republic of Mexico. Equally impressive, any child currently born in Los Angeles--where the Academy has its headquarters--is equally likely to pick up Spanish or English as a first language.

But if the Academy insists that Spanish is an alien tongue, pues, muy bien. We can then move on to the second lapse in their reasoning: that Spanish-language movies produced in Puerto Rico should not be considered as foreign language films because islanders are American citizens, just like others that live in any of the 50 states.

In classic Hollywood Spanish: "Ay, caramba!" While it is true that the federal government treats Puerto Rico as part of the US when it comes to recruiting soldiers or collecting campaign donations for presidential candidates, it does not when it comes to fundamental citizenship rights. These include the right to vote for the same president that sends Puerto Rican soldiers off to war as well as the right to have representatives with both a voice and a vote in Congress. Even further, the nation's highest legal authority, the Supreme Court, has clearly declared that Puerto Rico "belongs to, but is not part of, the United States."

In other words, Puerto Rico and the United States are neither the same nor equal entities. As a result, a great part of the island's cinema not only looks and feels differently, it is also produced under conditions of cultural vulnerability and economic precariousness in an industry that is dominated by American, English-language productions made with enormous budgets. Within this context, to unilaterally annex Puerto Rican cinema to that of the U.S. will result less in it being recognized as a vital part of American culture than in rendering it invisible as a distinct form.

So, for as long as films from Puerto Rico comply with the Academy's criteria of being "feature-length motion picture[s] produced outside the United States...with predominantly non-English dialogue," it is inexplicably punitive to exclude America and other island-made films from consideration in the foreign language category. Even if such foreignness is, as we know, made in America, no accent on the "e."


Por el Momento, Extranjera

Por Frances Negrón-Muntaner

Se dice que el cine es mágico y he aquí algo de evidencia: Hace menos de un mes, la Academia de Artes y Ciencias Cinematográficas, mejor conocida como la entidad que organiza los Oscars, resolvió el status de Puerto Rico sin consulta plebiscitaria y sin decírselo más que a Mariella Pérez Serrano, la comisionada de cine de la isla.

A través de una breve misiva, la Academia eliminó de un plumazo las aspiraciones de la película puertorriqueña América (acento en la “a”), de competir como film en "lengua extranjera". Al desestimar la cinta rodada en español, la carta reiteró la nueva política de la Academia con respecto al cine hecho en Puerto Rico: que ya no recibiría entregas de la isla bajo esta categoría porque sus habitantes son ciudadanos estadounidenses.

La razón por el cambio de estatus no está clara. Algunos creen que la Academia teme que si continúa aceptando películas puertorriqueñas, ésta tendría que también admitir producciones en español por directores radicados en los Estados Unidos, creando más oportunidades de reconocimiento a un cine que prácticamente acapara el mundo. Otros piensan que los directores mexicano-americanos quieren frenar a los boricuas, quiénes a su juicio pueden competir en la categoría de lengua extranjera sin ser residentes de un país independiente.

Cualquiera que sea el motivo, lo primero que resulta extraño en la lógica $émica es la idea de que el español es una lengua foránea a los Estados Unidos. El español no sólo fue el primer idioma europeo que se habló en el territorio que ahora ocupa Estados Unidos, sino que ha persistido como lengua importante a lo largo y ancho de la nación. Al día de hoy, viven en tierra americana 50 millones de hispanoparlantes, cifra que hace de Estados Unidos el segundo país de habla española en el mundo, después de la República de México. Se calcula además que al momento de nacer, existe igual probabilidad de que un niño en Los Angeles, ciudad sede de la Academia, aprenda español o inglés como primer idioma.

Pero si la Academia insiste en que el español es una lengua extranjera a Estados Unidos, pues muy bien, pasemos entonces al segundo gazapo en su razonamiento: Que las películas en español producidas en Puerto Rico no deben de ser consideradas como de lengua extranjera porque los isleños son ciudadanos estadounidenses iguales a cualquiera otros residiendo en los 50 estados.

En buen español hollywoodense: “Ay, caramba.” A pesar de que el gobierno americano a veces trata a Puerto Rico como parte de los Estados Unidos a la hora de reclutar soldados o de recaudar fondos $candidatos presidenciales, la isla se considera extranjera cuando se trata de derechos ciudadanos fundamentales. Estos incluyen el derecho a votar por ese mismo presidente que envía a los soldados a la guerra y el derecho de tener representación con voz y voto en el Congreso. En adición, y aún más claro, de acuerdo a la Corte Suprema, la autoridad legal máxima del país, Puerto Rico “pertenece a, pero no es parte de, los Estados Unidos.”

Ya sea en inglés o en español, esto quiere decir que Puerto Rico y Estados Unidos ni son lo mismo ni se escriben igual. Dada la incorporación desigual y colonial de Puerto Rico al llamado coloso del norte, gran parte del cine isleño no sólo posee una mirada distinta al de otros lugares, se produce asimismo bajo condiciones de invisibilidad cultural y precariedad económica en una industria dominada por producciones americanas en inglés de enormes presupuestos. En este contexto, anexar al cine de Puerto Rico al de Estados Unidos sirve más para hacerlo desaparecer que para reconocer su valor como par.

Por lo que si películas como América cumplen a plenitud con el criterio dictado por la Academia de ser “producidas fuera de los Estados Unidos con diálogo principal en un idioma que no es el inglés,” resulta inexplicablemente punitivo no aceptarlas como extranjeras, aunque esa extranjería sea, como sabemos, made in America, sin acento. (Traducido por Kelly Swope)

Frances Negrón-Muntaner
es profesora y cineasta


Winners of 2011 Cinema Tropical Awards Announced

The winners of the 2nd edition of the Cinema Tropical Awards presented by Cinelatino and Dish Latino, were unveiled this evening at a special event at The New York Times' 15th Floor Conference Center. Peruvian film Octubre / October by Daniel and Diego Vega was the winner of the award for Best Feature Film of the Year, whilst Chilean film Nostalgia de la luz / Nostalgia for the Light by Patricio Guzman was named Best Documentary Film. Mexican film El lugar más pequeño / The Tiniest Place by Tatiana Huezo won two awards for Best First Film and Best Director, Documentary Film; and Michael Rowe, also from Mexico, was awarded as Best Director, Feature Film for Año bisiesto / Leap Year.

October (pictured above, photo credit New Yorker Films), the Vega brother's debut feature film was the Jury Prize winner at the Un Certain Regard section of the Cannes Film Festival 2010, and has been selected to represent Peru in the upcoming Academy Awards in the Foreign Language Film category. The film tells the story of a shabby pawnbroker whose life drastically changes when an infant is abandoned in his bed.


Call for Applications: M.A. in Social Documentation

The Department of Film & Digital Media at UC Santa Cruz is currently accepting applications for the Master's Program in Social Documentation - Deadline: January 13th, 2012.

The Social Documentation Program is a two-year, full-time, graduate program in the Film and Digital Media Department. The SocDoc Program is dedicated to equipping students to address social change and human rights through the creation of professional-level projects that aim to expand public discourse, change perception, craft new voices, and help to advance social change. The program provides students with the knowledge and training necessary to carry out the creation of engaged documentaries in the medium of film/video, photography, new digital media, or audio/radio. Other genres (oral history, creative non-fiction, written ethnographies; historic exhibitions for museum or other public display; web, DVD or cross- platform projects and/or digital archives) are possible in consultation with faculty.

Students are expected to arrive with a project already identified and to spend two years in researching their subject, expanding their knowledge base, and carrying out the production of a completed work to be exhibited as the final requirement of the degree program.

Students work with filmmakers, photographers, sound design artists, film/digital-media scholars, documentary historians and, crucially, with a range of scholars drawn from across the campus for their expertise in the projects' target areas. With a dual-advisor system emphasizing both medium and subject, students produce substantive researched proposals, go out in the field to capture their material, and spend the second year in post-production and further knowledge- acquisition. The curriculum follows a cohort model and emphasizes collaborative methods.

Upon completion of the program, Master of Arts degree holders will be qualified to enter the documentary profession as directors, producers, and other related crafts. Alumni may also work on the creation and delivery of documentary content for multiple platforms including public broadcasting; in the documentary film business as independent producers and artists, or for archival centers, NGOs, or museums. A number of graduates have chosen to pursue a PhD in a field related to their thesis documentary in the Arts, Humanities, or Social Sciences.

For application deadlines and other information on the program, please visit our website or contact the Graduate Program Coordinator


Deadline Approaching: Chicago Latino Film Festival

The submission deadline is approaching for the 28th Chicago Latino Film Festival, to be held April 13-26, 2012. The festival promotes Latino culture in the United States by presenting the finest and most recent films from Latin America, Spain, Portugal, and the United States. The festival stresses the importance of the artistic and educational value of film. The Festival is non-competitive. However, the most popular feature, documentary and short are awarded the Audience Choice Award on Friday, April 27, 2012.

Postmark deadline: December 16, 2011
For details and an application please visit the festival's website.

 
 
News
  Sundance 2012 Lineup
(Indiewire) - It's finally here: The first in a series of lineup announcements from the Sundance Film Festival. Indiewire published the 2012 competition this afternoon, which includes 110 features selected from 4,042 submissions. FULL STORY

 
 
Jobs & Opportunities
 

Visit the NALIP Job Opportunities page for all the latest listings.

Film Composer for Short
Seeking a film composer for our short film "Killer Talent". We are looking for a dark comedy feel. Early Almodovar (Mujeres al borde de un ataque de nervios) and late Krzysztof Kielowski (White). As a director I was aiming for something lighter than what we ended up with so I am hoping that with the right music I will balance the mood a little bit. This is a low paying job. Please send us links to your music. We'll love hearing from you! Click here to email director Paulina Plazas.


Bilingual Narrator for Documentary
New York-based filmmaker and NALIP member Miguel Picker is looking for an English/Spanish bilingual narrator (either male or female) for the documentary film Latinos Beyond Reel: Challenging a Media Stereotype. If you are interested (and would be able to travel to New York City), please send sample recordings or links to your previous work to cfs1@nyu.edu

 
 
From the Editor
 
Editor
Alex Mendoza
Alex Mendoza & Associates
AMARTE Design & Digital Printing
9513 Longden Avenue
Temple City, CA 91780
alexmend@aol.com


Co-Editor
NALIP
1323 Lincoln Blvd., #220
Santa Monica, CA 90401
310-395-8880
membership@nalip.info
 
 
Spotlight
 

NALIPsters in Sundance 2012

The Sundance Institute selected 110 films to screen in January at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival out of more than 4,000 feature-length submissions. The selections include three films by NALIPsters.

In the out-of-competition NEXT <=> section, spotlighting promising filmmakers distinguished by an innovative, forward-thinking approach to storytelling:

Mosquita y Mari / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Aurora Guerrero [LPA 2006]) - A friendship between two 15-year-old Latinas becomes complex as they struggle to recognize the sexual undercurrent in their relationship. Cast: Fenessa Pineda, Venecia Troncoso, Joaquin Garrido, Laura Patalano, Dulce Maria Solis. Aurora participated in NALIP's Latino Producers Academy with Mosquita y Mari.


In the U.S. Dramatic Competition section, comprised of the world premieres of 16 American narrative feature films:

Filly Brown / U.S.A. (Directors: Youssef Delara (ESL), Michael D. Olmos, Screenwriter: Youssef Delara) - A Hip Hop-driven drama about a Mexican girl who rises to fame and consciousness as she copes with the incarceration of her mother through music. Cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Gina Rodriguez, Jenni Rivera, Edward James Olmos.

Simon Killer / France, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Antonio Campos) - A recent college graduate goes to Paris after breaking up with his girlfriend of 5 years. Once there, he falls in love with a young prostitute and their fateful journey begins. Cast: Brady Corbet, Mati Diop, Constance Rousseau, Michael Abiteboul, Solo.


Alex Rivera
NALIPster's music video with Manu Chao now online

NALIP mentor Alex Rivera directed a music video with Manu Chao in Arizona (under threat of arrest by Sheriff Joe's goon squad). At the invitation of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Manu Chao traveled to Arizona to witness the human rights crisis facing migrants there and to give a free "Alto Arizona" performance. Watch the video online here.


Patricia Martinez de Velasco & Roberto Sneider
NALIPsters' film wins at Iberomerican Film Fest

The sweet and sour comedy Aqui Entre Nos, written and directed by Patricia Martinez de Velasco and produced by NALIP member Roberto Sneider (Arráncame la vida) with their company La Banda Films, has recently won the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the 37th Iberoamerican Film Festival in Huelva, Spain. It also won the "Manuel Barba" Award for Best Screenplay given by the Press Association and the Andalucia International University Award (UNIA) for the feature film that best addresses the social problems in Latin-America.

The film is centered on a Mexican family whose world is turned upside down when Rodolfo Guerra, father of three daughters, wakes up one morning and decides not go to go work; he is tired of being mistreated by his wife. In that one day in which the family routine is broken, Rodolfo opens his eyes and realizes that he is a perfect stranger in his own family.

The film premiered to great response at the Guadalajara International Film Festival, winning a Best Actor Award for the lead, Jesús Ochoa. Then, the film was invited to the World Film Festival in Montreal and won the Bronze Zenith for First Feature Film.

 
 
 

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