Elizabeth Acevedo Bestseller ‘With The Fire On High’ Lands At Picturestart With Movie In Works

Patrick Hipes wrote this for Deadline.com


Picturestart has acquired rights to Elizabeth Acevedo’s New York Times bestselling novel With the Fire on High and will develop and produce a film that Acevedo is set to adapt.

Published in May by HarperCollins, the book tells the story of Emoni Santiago, a 17-year-old girl who must navigate the challenges of modern life in Philadelphia after becoming a single mother during her freshman year of high school. The one place she can let all that go is in the kitchen, where she adds a little something magical to everything she cooks, turning her food into straight-up goodness and pure joy for everyone in her life including her baby girl and her abuela. Even though she dreams of working as a chef after she graduates, Emoni knows it’s not worth her time to pursue the impossible. Yet, despite the rules she thinks she has to play by, once Emoni starts cooking, her only choice is to let her talent break free.

Erik Feig and Lucy Kitada are producing for Picturestart.

Acevedo, a Dominican-American slam poet, this year became the first woman of color to win the Carnegie Medal children’s book award for her novel Poet X, which also won the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature among other prizes. She is repped by the Gotham Group’s Ellen Goldsmith-Vein and EMLA’s Ammi-Joan Paquette.

Ex-Lionsgate film boss Erik Feig launched Picturestart in May with backing from Warner Bros, Endeavor Content and Bron. It has been scooping up buzzy novels including recently Unpregnant and Eleanor & Park, and recently set Chadwick Boseman to star in Yasuke, about the first African samurai in Japan.


2019 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival to Focus on U.S. Latinx Talent

Rebecca Sun for the Hollywood Reporter

The festival co-founded by Edward James Olmos will take place July 31 to Aug. 4 at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

Latin American filmmakers have earned much critical acclaim (and several Oscars) in recent years, but the 2019 edition of the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, which takes place July 31 to Aug. 4 at the TCL Chinese Theatre, will put the spotlight on Latinx talent from the United States.

“LALIFF has become the preeminent destination for Latinx storytellers and this year we want to spotlight our homegrown U.S. community of filmmakers, musicians, students, TV writers, visual artists, digital producers and podcasters,” said Edward James Olmos, who co-founded the festival in 1997 with independent producers Marlene Dermer, George Hernandez and Kirk Whisler. In its early years, it has premiered short films from Alfonso Cuaron, Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro G. Inarritu; today, the festival is run by executive director and Jane the Virgin writer Rafael Agustin.

In 2013 LALIFF took a five-year break from holding annual festivals (it returned last year); the organizers instead focused on the Youth Cinema Project, an outgrowth of the festival’s youth program. This year YCP launched its first-ever scholarship for high school students who demonstrate academic progress and filmmaking prowess. The inaugural recipient attends Santa Ana High and will complete a paid internship with LALIFF as part of the program.

Both LALIFF and YCP are part of the Latino Film Institute, which this year added Ana-Christina Ramon, director of research and civic engagement at UCLA’s Division of Social Sciences and co-author of the annual Hollywood Diversity Report, to its board of directors. “As the largest minority group in the U.S. and one whose buying power outpaces other groups, Latinos are still severely underrepresented in film and TV,” Ramon said in a statement. “My goal is to provide the data necessary to enact meaningful change and motivate those in the industry to make content that is authentic and representative of how the majority of Latinos and other people of color live and work in America.”

Submissions for LALIFF 2019 are now open at latinofilm.org. The festival is programmed by artistic director Diana Sanchez (a TIFF international programmer) and director of programming Dilcia Barrera (Sundance feature films programmer).

1990s drama ‘Party of Five’ reboot involves deported parents

Interesting article by Russell Contreras for AP.


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — “Party of Five,” a 1990s teen drama that focused on a family grappling with life after the death of their parents, is getting a reboot with a Mexican American family whose parents are deported.

Disney announced this month that the Sony Pictures Television retooled Generation X-era show will air on the Freeform network and will star a Latino cast.

The new series is headed by the show’s original creators Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser and comes as millions of Latinos in the U.S. wrestle with the uncertainty around deportations and aggressive immigration enforcement under the Trump administration.

The original series, which ran from 1994 to 2000 on Fox, centered on the Salinger family whose parents died in a car accident caused by a drunken driver.

The new show will follow the Acosta children as they work through an unsettling future when their parents are abruptly deported to Mexico. It will star Brandon Larracuente, Emily Tosta, Niko Guardado and Elle Paris Legaspi.

Lippman told The Associated Press she and Keyser have turned down previous offers to bring back the show over concerns they didn’t want to simply recycle the same storyline with new actors. But she said the pair changed their minds after reading front-page newspaper stories about Latino children being separated from their parents.

“We have told this story before but it was imaginary,” Lippman said. “Now it’s actually a story that is playing out all over the country.”

The original series drew praise from critics from its writing and strong acting and won the 1996 Golden Globe for Best Drama. After struggling with low ratings its first two seasons, the series developed a loyal following especially among members of Generation X who identified with the themes of absent Baby Boomer parents, tight finances amid high divorce rates and the effects of a long economic recession.

Lippman said because of the ongoing saga of Latino families facing separation, the time was right to reimagine the show for a new generation facing specific challenges and to illustrate those threats to a diverse audience.

“In the previous show, we didn’t need to be specific to a culture or a political climate,” she said. “This family is very concerned about (its) status.”

While most of the Acosta children are American born, Lippman said one has DACA — temporary protection granted to some young immigrants under the Obama Administration-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. That factor will showcase the ongoing anxiety the family must confront daily, she said

Chris Zepeda-Millán, a Chicana/o Studies and public policy professor at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, said it’s telling that a mainstream television network is taking a chance on series focusing on the issue of immigration status. “It’s an American story that has been going on for decades,” Zepeda-Millán said. “Now it will get some mainstream exposure through the very powerful media of television.”

Zepeda-Millán said the few television shows featuring Latino characters have been largely comedies. “I haven’t seen a drama, mainstream show like this,” Zepeda-Millán said. “Its success will depend on how the characters are portrayed.”

Lippman said the show has hired a mostly Latino writing staff.

Rodrigo Garcia serves as executive producer and directed the pilot for the “Party of Five” reboot. Michal Zebede serves as co-executive producer and writer.

No premiere date has been announced.




Incredible write up by Frederick Luis Aldama, which you can read here: https://www.latinxspaces.com/latinx-film/robert-rodriguez-fever-dream-alita-and-the-building-of-latinx-sci-fi-worlds?fbclid=IwAR0DFJIWW3WWZQFLEsAmubBSzCqLr5HAYwQCS1OfLeDK2_zAyRfr8Tvjy9g


Most sci-fi films focus time and attention to building new worlds for us to experience. From Georges Méliès 1902 Trip to the Moon through Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel today, filmmakers have used their cinematographic storytelling skills to build new worlds for us to inhabit.


To different degrees, however, such sci-fi storyworlds have either erased or exoticized Latinxs—and people of color generally. Take Ridley Scott’s world-building in the utterly mind-blowing Blade Runner (1982)Its slow, magisterial sweep and camera push-in gave us the time to absorb and relish this vanguard vision of a future-set L.A. (November 2019, actually). Scott’s exquisite crafting of a total vision of an earthbound future-set world continues to marvel.

However, once Scott (with DP Jordan Cronenweth and the team of modeling designers) spiral us down into the LA streets, it’s business as usual: Latinx, Middle Eastern, and Asians function as ornament. The Anglo characters (Replicants included) are infused with complex of mind and action. Giant pixelated billboards advertise Japanese Geishas. Amalgamated Asian logographics scrawl across dilapidated edifices. Throngs of figures in rice-field sartorial wear (bamboo hats included) and low-tech rickshaws fill backdrop street scenes. Cinemas showing Mexican films, stands selling sushi, and Turkish-style bazaars feature exotic (robotic) snakes. Cultural artifacts and bodies of the Other adorn. They add cultural texture to Scott’s sci-fi cyberpunk Look.

Courtesy Warner Bros.Courtesy Warner Bros.

The impulse to reduce Asian (and cultures of the Other generally) to exotic ornament is not new, nor the exclusive domain of sci-fi. The late Edward Said threw this in the spotlight when he carefully excavated 19th-century European literature, travelogues, and scholarship that crystallized into an ideology of appropriation and oppression. European systems of writing and “knowing” Asia spun an Us vs. Them Manichean allegory: Europeans as good and civilized vs. Asians as evil and uncivilized. This system known as “orientalism” helped bolster and justify real, barbarous European colonial and empire building practices in the Middle East and Asia. Threaded through this Us vs. Them orientalist ideology appeared various iterations of the beneficent paternalist and white savior attitude. The upshot: the spinning of propaganda as knowledge that sanctified cultural appropriation and obliteration of racialized Others.

Orientalism is the backbone to mainstream sci-fi flicks, and not just in the world building strategies already identified with Blade Runner. It’s prevalent, too, in casting choices. Think Anglo-Brit actor Tilda Swinton cast as the Tibetan mystic (in the comic book), The Ancient One, in Scott Derrickson’s Dr. Strange (2016). Think Anglo-US actor Scarlet Johansson cast as Major (Asian cyborg supersoldier in the comic book) in Rupert Sanders’ Ghost in the Shell (2017). We are seeing more sci-fi characters played by actors of color, including Latinxs. However, they continue to be relegated to secondary or even tertiary roles in plots, often appearing for just enough time to throw a dash of spice and color into the storyworld.

cinema of rr.jpg

This is the contextual backdrop needed to understand the significance of Latinxs in Robert Rodriguez’s sci-fi world building of Alita. Robert’s always been about putting Latinxs in front of the film camera. As he mentioned to me in an interview for The Cinema of Robert Rodriguez, his dedication to and prodigious output quickly grew a Latinx star system—within and outside the Hollywood system. Even as recent as the 1990s, he reminds us that there were no Latinxs working in Hollywood—a very conservative and “reactive business” (141).  Latinxs like Danny Trejo, Benicio del Toro, Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba, Alexis Bledel, Michelle Rodriguez, Demi Lovato, and Rosa Bianca Salazar are the drivers of plots. They are the figures audiences engage with. From Desperado and Spy Kids to Machete, Planet Terror to today’s Alita, Robert builds worlds that feature Latinxs as more than a spiced-up, exotic ornament. They are the complexly rendered agents of the action. Latinxs are the saviors of community, the planet—the universe.

With Alita Robert does this—and more. He builds his sci-fi world in and through all facets of Latinx life and culture as it reaches across an Américas in time and space. Robert’s make-over of Yukito Kishiro’s runaway bestselling cyberpunk manga Gunnm (1990-1995) relocates the temporal-spatial setting from the US to a hemispheric Américas. When building out the massive set for Iron City (60,000 square feet of Trouble Maker Studios lot in Austin), Robert and his set designers studied carefully the built spaces of Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende, Cuba’s Havana, and Panama’s Panama City.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

In each case, they were especially attentive to the way architecture in the Américas is a palimpsest of pre-colonial, colonial, and postcolonial histories. Where, for instance, pre-Colombian designs co-exist with Spanish colonial edifices. So, with Robert’s building of the Iron City world we see these hybrid blends—including those cuartos de azotea that appeared atop colonial-era vecindades—that remind of how layers of time and space reverberate in and through the built spaces of the Américas.

Of course, Robert and his design team also want to transport us into the future—300 years in the future.So, they overlay this spatiotemporally layered architecture of the Américas with an industrial, steam-punk low-tech look; retrofitted tubes and exoskeletal wires remind us that we are in a future—but a future that continues to recall the wounds of the brutalities of colonization.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Robert and his crew stamp and sign-post (literally) Latinx culture all over Iron City. Street and shop signs are in Spanish (“Clinica” and “Ciggaros”, for instance). Food and drink are recognizably Latinx. Latinx rhythms fill Iron City’s airwaves; on a street corner we see and hear a Blatinx musician strumming multineck guitar. Braided chili and garlic ristras hang from eaves. Robert’s (and DP Bill Pope) camera-eye lingers over Hugo and Alita bonding while nibbling some chocolate; Robert wants us to soak up the scenes’ importance: the highlighting of xocolatl (Aztec)/ kawkaw/cacao (Mayan) to celebrate our pre-Columbian, indigenous way of life. Robert provides a similar pre-Colombian palimpsest with the bounty-hunter, McTeague (Jeff Fahey). When the camera first introduces McTeague in the cantina-styled bar, “Kansas”, he’s surrounded with a pack of cyborg dogs. Think: canine deity, Xolotl, the twin brother to Quetzalcoatl, and guardian of sun as it travels to the underworld every night. This same camera-eye lingers over Alita’s writing the number 99 on her shoulder. Not only is this an important moment when she writes on and claims her cybernetic body, but, given all of Robert’s deliberate Latinx signposting throughout the film, this act also resonates with the number 9 in Aztec and Mayan cosmologies: in the former, the underworld Mictlan consists of 9 levels and in the latter, there exists earth, with 4 spaces above and 4 below.

In Alita there’s a deliberate, deep infusion of Latinx culture in all its multilayered spatio-temporal hemispheric reach. This continues even when the story briefly steps outside of Iron City. When Alita and her multiethnic crew (Hugo, Tanji, and Koyomi) leave the city, they pass through a giant wall—a wall that surrounds the city and that controls the flow of people in and out. Once outside of the city, Robert fills the landscape with an amalgam of tropical flora and Central Texas flora. They walk through rubber trees and cedar elms. It’s a deliberately reconstructed hybrid equatorial/north American flora used to further conveys the film’s placing us deliberately within a hemispheric Latinx sensibility.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Robert doesn’t stop here. This hybrid weaving of hemispheric Latinoness informs Iron City’s economic system and infuses the ontology of its people. It’s a barter system where people trade repurposed objects (waste) for repurposed objects. It’s an economy of rasquachismo. In his 1988 essay “Rasquachismo, a Chicano Sensibility” Tomás Ybarra-Frausto used the term rasquachismo to describe a process that grows from “visceral response to lived reality” and that identified an “aesthetic sensibility of los de abajo, of the underdog” (155–162). It’s also rasquachismo of ontology. Indeed, Dr. Ido uses repurposed robotic parts to create differently abled, hybrid human-machine beings. He’s a doctor of rasquachismo. Alita is reborn (twice) under Dr. Ido’s rasquache surgical skills.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Robert builds this Latinx sci-fi world with Latinxs front and center. Indeed, with his casting of Latinx (Peruvian ancestry), Rosa Bianca Salazar he gave her a platform to embrace her Latinidad; up till this moment, Rosa’s Latinoness had gone unmarked and unremarked in and around films such as Bird Box and the Divergent and Maze Runner series. With the release of Alita, Rosa’s out and proud as Latina, giving special attention to her Quechua-speaking abuelita, for instance. Robert and his casting team’s choice to bring onboard Anglo/Latinx (Chilean/Mexican) actor Keean Johnson as Hugo along with Dominican-born Jorge Lendeborg Jr. as Tanji, and Michelle Rodriguez as Gelda (seen in flashback sequences) importantly builds out a cast of phenotypically varied Latinxs.

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Courtesy 20th Century Fox

The heroes stand in sharp contrast the casting of white, male actors as the sociopathic villains: the British actor and rapper Ed Skrein as Zapan and a whiter-than-white Edward Norton as Nova. By reversing the Manichean silver-screen scripts (white/good vs. brown/bad), Robert vitally reframes expectation and engagement of sci-fi storyworlds.

With Robert’s films, we know that there’s always more happening than meets the eye. It’s certainly the case that he’s flipped the mainstream business-as-usual with sci-fi film stories. Latinxs are not the exotic and ornamental; they are not the helpless and hapless.  But there’s more that Robert does with Alita. He affirms. He empowers. He throws us existential conundrums.

This isn’t new for Robert. In all of his films he smuggles into the genres he uses (and abuses)—from Western and Mexploitation to Teen, Horror, Sci-Fi, even music videos—doppelgängers, existential crises, political critique, patriarchal corporatocracy, mestiza affirmation and empowerment, and much more. With Alita he smuggles into the mainstream imaginary the question of what makes us human in and around hybrid (Latinx) subjectivities that exist in a hemispheric Américas. He smuggles into the mainstream imaginary the deep affirmation of mestizo selves that resonates beyond the silver screen; they reverberate in our minds as allegories of the birth and rebirth of an empowered mestizas: it’s only once the body and mind meld that Alita comes to know her self—a warrior self informed by a 300-year-memory of her armed resistance to colonization.

It would be remis of me not to mention a couple of nit-picks before I wrap up this thought piece on Robert’s Latinx sci-fi world building. As some have, I’m not going to take issue with Alita’s second rebirth into a full-bosomed cyborg body; there’s nothing about the costuming, lighting, or lensing that raise those fanboy wish-fulfillment sexual fantasy flags. I do think Robert, the screenplay, and his casting crew slip hard when it comes to Nurse Gerhard; and, not because of the choice to cast a woman of color (African American actor, Idara Victor) in the role. It’s that by having her play the role of a silent, ready-to-please appendage to the white scientist, Dr. Ido, the film takes us twenty steps back in terms of representational politics. And while we might argue that costuming of and pig-tail hair design for Vietnamese American Lana Condor as Koyomi is the film’s way of gesturing toward its manga source material, this stands-out like the fetishistic, orientalist sore thumb that it is.

Finally, and this is more of a personal preference, Robert has skillfully used 2D cinematographic storytelling to excellent use in most of his films; he knows well how to lens and light a shot to guide our brains to create dynamic depths of field. His use of 3D doesn’t work here. It doesn’t distract like yesteryear’s 3D. It’s just that its constant presence of 3 depth planes assign importance simultaneously to objects and characters in the foreground, middle-ground, and background. This overloads our perception system, unnecessarily.

Robert Rodriguez’s Alita might not be exactly the Latinx Wakanda we’ve been waiting for. It is, however, a world building that powerfully reminds us that we can make thrilling sci-fi stories that include Latinxs as more than just ornament. In an interview, Robert told me that with his films he wants to pull us into his “fever dreams” (139).  Alita is a fever-dream that proactively welcomes all—and Latinxs especially.

New Book: Cine-Mexicans by Roberto Avant-Mier and Michael Lechuga

Cine-Mexicans is about the cinematic representations of “Mexicans” in US American film. By tracking the history of cinematic representations of “Mexicans” in the US, Cine-Mexicans also tracks the notable developments in the Chicano/ a experience and comments on the relationship between the USA and Mexico, between US culture and Mexican/Chicano culture, between US Americans and Mexican-Americans (and/or “Chicano/as”), and even Mexican nationals and immigrants. This book also doubles as an instructive look at the history of cinematic representations of “Mexicans in US/Hollywood movies as an introduction to the development of Chicano/a-themed feature films in which Mexican-Americans (“Chicanos” and “Chicanas”) sought to make their own films, for their own audiences, as a response to mainstream cinematic representations of Mexicans. Cine-Mexicans is an introductory text that highlights major cultural and political issues affecting Chicano/a communities that are portrayed in cinema/film, so it can be used for classes in: “Chicano Cinema,” “Mexican-American Cinema,” “Mexican Cinema,” “Borderlands Cinema,” “Ethnicity/Race in Media” or even issues in “Latino/a,” “Latin American,” or “Hispanic” cinema.



¡Wáchale! Film Fest in Phoenix

(Español abajo)
Running from August 14 – October 27, 2018, ¡Wáchale! FilmFest brings new and classic Latin American films to Latinx neighborhoods in Phoenix.

********************NEXT SCREENING********************
Saturday, September 1st @ 6pm
Trans Queer Pueblo, 1726 E Roosevelt Street, Phoenix, AZ 85006.

We believe in the power of seeing people who look like us on the big screen, so we center the narratives of queer/trans people of color from the Third World. For the most up-to-date festival info, follow us on Instagram at @WachaleFilmFest

#ConSaborAJusticia is selling Mexican street food at all screenings to support LGBTQ folks recently released from detention.

“You are what you wacha, so ¡Wachale!” – Guillermo del Toro


Trans Queer Pueblo x FilmBar presentan el CineFest ¡Wáchale!

*****************LA PRÓXIMA PROYECCIÓN*****************
El sábado 1 de septiembre @ 6pm
Trans Queer Pueblo 1726 E Roosevelt Street, Phoenix, AZ 85006.

Nosotrxs en Trans Queer Pueblo, creamos el @WáchaleFilmFest porque creemos en el poder de vernxs reflejadxs en la pantalla grande. Viajamos más allá de Hollywood para centrar las historias de las personas LGBT+ de color del tercer mundo. Para más detalles de los próximos estrenos, sintonízate al @WáchaleFilmFest

#ConSaborAJusticia tendrá a la venta antojitos mexicanos para apoyar a personas LGBT+ liberadas de los centros de detención.

“Eres lo que wachas, así que ¡Wáchale!” – Guillermo del Toro



Wilmer Valderrama Set to Produce Series About Mexican-American WWII Heroes

For the original post by Kristen Lopez, check out Remezcla: http://remezcla.com/film/wilmer-valderrama-produce-series-mexican-american-wwii-heroes/

With Independence Day just having passed, many reflected about how the holiday – alongside Memorial and Veterans Day – seems to solely focus on Anglo-Americans who lived and fought to make the country what it is. In 2014, author Dave Gutierrez self-published Patriots From the Barrio, a thoroughly researched story about the Mexican-American men who fought in the Thirty-Sixth Division, 141st Regiment, Second Battalion, Company E during WWII; most of whom were from El Paso.

Towards the end of 2017, Deadline reported that Venezuelan-Colombian actor Wilmer Valderrama had secured the film and TV rights to Gutierrez’s book with the intention of developing it. When asked about the project Valderrama stated, “I’m honored as a proud Latin American to amplify the courage and contribution of these incredible men.” Earlier this year, during a series of speaking engagements Gutierrez went on to promote the novel, it was revealed that the actor’s production company WV Entertainment is leaning towards turning the book into a series.

The war feature, whether it be television or film, is still an incredibly white-centric story with Latinos and African-Americans often playing cursory characters. Gutierrez’s book seeks to open up the kinds of stories we associate with war, showing us the men who sacrificed much and just happened to be Latino. Development takes time, so here’s hopingWV Entertainment is actively working on this to give audiences something new to watch in the near future.

XI International Conference on Chicano Literature and Latino Studies

Is anyone going to be in Spain at the end of May?! Great opportunity for a conference…

XI International Conference on Chicano Literature and Latino Studies

original post by Xanath Caraza found here: https://labloga.blogspot.com/2018/04/xi-international-conference-on-chicano.html

The XI International Conference on Chicano Literature and Latino Studies, organized by HispaUSA and the Universidad de Salamanca, with the collaboration of the instituto Franklin-UAH, will be held in Salamanca, May 28-30, 2018.

This conference draws attention to the different interpretations of the concept “Latinidad” at the present time, also looking towards the future.  Therefore, “Latinidad” involves the blend of cultures recreating different identities, often forgotten in an exercise of permanent reconstruction.

Durante más de dos décadas un grupo de profesores, académicos e intelectuales españoles y norteamericanos han venido estudiando de forma conjunta la realidad de los hispanos en Estados Unidos.  Es precisamente fruto de este encuentro por lo que surge HispaUSA.  Una asociación sin ánimo de lucro, cuyos fines son estimular, fomentar e impulsar el estudio y la investigación en todas las áreas relacionadas con la cultura y la sociedad hispana en los Estados Unidos; así como fomentar la interrelación entre el mundo hispano de Estados Unidos y España.

HispaUSA tiene su sede en el Instituto Franklin de la Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, un centro que desde 1987 ha impulsado el estudio de Norteamérica así como la colaboración institucional entre Estados Unidos y España.

Este 2018 en Salamanca del 28 al 30 de mayo se lleva a cabo la XI International Conference on Chicano Literature and Latino Studies.

New film: Home + Away

Shoutout to Manuel Betancourt for a thrilling article written for Remezcla. View the original with photos here: http://remezcla.com/lists/film/home-away-documentary-tribeca-film-festival/


The opening images of Matt Ogens’ film Home + Away seem pretty straightforward. We’re merely watching as Erik starts his daily walk to school. Only, like many of his schoolmates at Bowie High School, Erik begins his day in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and must cross the border to El Paso, Texas in order to make his first class. This observational doc (don’t expect any talking heads discussing Trumpian rhetoric or the infamous wall) puts viewers right in the middle of the border life students at Bowie experience every day. In addition to Erik, who struggles in English class and finds comfort at soccer practice, Home + Away follows Shyanne, a star wrestler who’s considering joining the army and Francisco, who wishes his dad were allowed into the U.S. so he could make his baseball games.

Part coming-of-age story and part sports documentary (think Hoop Dreams meets The Other Side of Immigration for the DREAMer generation) Ogens’ film hopes to humanize the border. “There’s a lot of judgment that people makes on both sides of the debate and we forget about the people living there,” he told Remezcla. In focusing his camera on these three kids, following them as they wrestle with homework, deal with demanding but loving coaches, and spend time with their supportive families on both sides of border, Home + Away paints a picture of what it’s like to live in between two worlds.

He hopes it will inspire audiences to approach these issues with more empathy. “We should empathize and be curious instead of coming in with an opinion,” he told us. In that spirit, find five things we learned from this doc.


Bowie High School Is the US’s Closest School to the Border

Given the focus on the topic of immigration, Ogens was clear on wanting to offer a different take on the border and Bowie seemed perfect. “What I found unique that I didn’t know was how many of the kids live in Juarez,” he said, “or have family and are commuting back and forth daily or weekly. I thought that was unique and worth investigating further. Because when it comes to the wall or the border, we’re often just hearing the bigger topic—the macro. Rarely do we really see the humanity of it, the characters on the ground, how they’re personally affected. I wanted to do more of a three-dimensional portrait of the border rather than just the general macro of it all.”

Just Filming on the Border Is a Political Act

One of the most uncomfortable moments in the film comes courtesy of a classroom of students watching the Presidential inauguration on TV which prompts Shyanne to admit she’s scared and another student to say she hopes “the president gets the job done.” “I didn’t want to make it a political film,” Ogens shared. “It’s more of a setting, an environment, and we all know as an audience what’s going on. We already come in knowing the topic of the border. So in that regard I didn’t need to recap everything. I sort of just followed the kids. You see the border there and you come to your own conclusions. The closest we got is when we watch them watching the inauguration. It’s funny that scene is the first day of shooting: first scene we shot in the entire shoot! It’s not something we set up. They were just watching it. So I captured what was happening.”

El Paso and Juarez Are “Sister Cities”

Ogens’ doc moves seamlessly between the two border cities, mirroring the ease with which the students it follows do—even when their own families are stuck sometimes on either side. But there’s a bustling border community being captured here. “There’s a lot of that not just between El Paso and Juarez but all across the border,” he noted. “Whether families coming across to work or families who have families on both sides, kids coming across coming for a better future. All along the border, it’s almost like along it are sister cities. They rely on each other. There’s commerce, there’s people. If you just stop that, it’d have massive effects on both sides.”

Sports Is an Escape for These Kids

Part of being an immigrant, especially in a border town, is that need to prove oneself and to not be defined solely by where you’re from. In focusing on athletes, Ogens hoped to reflect that. “For teenagers [who play sports], for a couple of hours a day they don’t have to think about poverty, about grades, about cartels if you live in Juarez. They can just be teenagers. And even though that’s the case, Bowie High School is kind of looked down upon in El Paso. They stereotype them. So, even within sports they have to prove themselves. They don’t have great equipment or funding for sports so they still, even on the court, or the mat or the field, have to prove themselves. Which I thought was a good metaphor for what they’re dealing with in life.”

Activism Along the Border Is “Not That Loud”

If politics with a capital P is absent from the film, it is because, as Ogens shared, you just don’t see that as much when you’re on the ground. “We’ve seen marches in LA and NYC and in the big cities about the wall but there it’s not that loud,” he acknowledged. “People aren’t that loud about it. Sure, there’s some activists and there are some marches, but I’d say the marches in the bigger cities are even bigger.” He has some ideas as to why that is: “people down there are dealing with the immediate. Which is, you know, putting food on the table for their families, working, that kind of thing. They don’t all have time to be activists. The other thing is that they’re still teenagers and they’re dealing with high school stuff. And the third thing is, in their communities they’ve sort of been taught to not call too much attention to their families because maybe they’re related to someone who’s undocumented or someone who’s trying to get a visa, or whatever and don’t want to raise hell about it.”

Conference Registration now available for Latina/o Studies in DC

We are happy to announce that the portal for Conference Registration and Membership is now open! The portal can be found here: https://lsa.secure-platform.com/a/

Please note the following:
– Conference Registration and Membership dues may be paid online using PayPal. You may also pay via check; instructions for paying by check are within the portal.

– The Early Conference Registration term is before and no later than on June 1, 2018; the Late Conference Registration term is on and/or after June 2, 2018 and onsite, during the conference.

– All conference participants must be paid members by June 1, 2018. Failure to pay membership dues by June 1, 2018 will result in your not being listed in the program.

¡We look forward to seeing everyone at Latinx Studies Now: DC 2018 + !

The Executive Officers,
The Latina/o Studies Association


Register here: https://lsa.secure-platform.com/a/