Entertainment

If You’re Looking For A Scary Yet Woke Halloween Movie To Watch, This Indie Horror Filmmaker Has You Covered

Groucho Reviews/Canal+ /Good Machine

Halloween is here, and while some are getting ready with their Latino-inspired costumes for a night or trick-or-treating or partying, the homebodies out there might be looking to make it a Blockbuster night. RIP Blockbuster Video.

For you horror fans looking for something a little bit different —  maybe something new, something scary, something that uses the genre in order to creatively delve into social issues and gender roles, then award-winning horror filmmaker Michelle Garza Cervera has you covered.

CREDIT: Michelle Garza Cervera

“Gender issues have been present in horror films since the beginning of cinema. Monsters with specific gender and bodily differences exist in most classic horror films,” says Garza Cervera, a Mexico City-native who makes movies that bring a much-needed Latin American and female perspective to the genre.

“Even though gender was present, it has mostly kept a one-sided perspective since the majority of directors and producers have been male, which causes most of the spectators to also be male,” she adds. “This reality has created stereotypical female characters that are molded by writers and directors that are not interested in understanding the real complexity of femininity and doesn’t allow the female spectators to deeply empathize with the characters.”

However, Garza Cervera and many others are looking to change that. The filmmaker has written and directed short films that have been selected in more than 40 international film festivals, with her short film “Clara’s Rage” winning several awards, including Best National Short at the Campeche Film Festival. She’s currently writing her first feature film thanks to support from the Mexican Institute of Cinematography.

CREDIT: Clara’s Rage / Michelle Garza Cervera

“Fortunately, there are more and more different perspectives inside the horror genre, not only in gender but also in race and culture, which only makes horror films richer and stronger,” she says. “There are great example of horror movies that use the characteristics of its genre to understand it’s characters, their context and cultural background and make a metaphor of the real human conflict that she or he is facing.”

It’s a good thing Garza Cervera comes with some solid spooky and terrifying recommendations. Here’s her list of eight horror films with a socially conscious slant for your Halloween pleasure.

“El Paramo (The Squad)” by Jaime Osorio

CREDIT: A still from “El Paramo.” Credit: Rotten Tomatoes/Rhayuela Cine

“It’s a psychological thriller that talks about the conflict with the guerrilla in Colombia through the story of a squad of soldiers stuck with a woman in a military base in the middle of the mountains,” explains Garza Cervera.

It’s available for free on Vudu and for rent on Amazon, YouTube, iTunes and Google Play.

“México Barbaro” Part I and Part II

CREDIT: From “Siete Veses Siete,” featured in “México Bárabro I.” Credit: No Real Danger/Simplemente Films

In this horror anthology from Mexico, eight directors created a 10-minute segment to tell a story that revolves around Mexican traditions and legends, and the result is horrifying. Garza Cervera’s segment, “Vitriol,” appears in “México Bárbaro II’

Pat I is available on Netflix. Both parts are available for rent on Amazon.

Mujer Lobo” by Tamae Garateuy

CREDIT: A still from “Mujer Lobo.” Photo credit: Cleveland International Festival/Crudo Films

“This movie shows an empowered woman dealing with our patriarchal world,” says Garza Cervera. “It is a clear example of how genre can be used with a complete different perspective and transform the person who is usually the victim character into a strong woman, owner of her life and decisions.” How does this character do this? By seducing men she meets in the Buenos Aires subway, having sex with them, then murdering them. Neat!

“The Babadook” by Jennifer Kent

CREDIT: Looking for The Babadook. Photo credit: Pitch.com/Causeway Films

Jennifer Kent’s first feature film tells the story of a single mom facing her inner fears of raising a child by herself. Those fears take the form of what Garza Cerver calls an “amazing antagonist.” The Babadook is creepy and wears a top hat, and somehow has also become a gay icon.

You can rent “The Babadook” on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon and Google Play, or stream on Showtime.

“Get Out” by Jordan Peele

CREDIT: A scene from Get Out. Photo Credit: The Mary Sue/Monkeypaw Productions.

“Get Out” was one of the biggest films of 2017, telling the story of a young black man who goes to meet his white girlfriend’s family in the middle of the woods. That’s when shit gets crazy, and racist af.

“This is an amazing horror film that tells a great and thrilling story, and makes a deep analysis of the kind of not-in-your-face racism within liberal white people,” says Garza Ververa.

Rent “Get Out” on Amazin, Vudu, iTunes or Google Play. It’s also available on HBO.

“El Espinazo del Diablo” by Guillermo del Toro

CREDIT: A creepy child in “El Espinazo del Diablo.” Photo credit: Groucho Reviews/Canal+ /Good Machine

Before Guillermo del Toro became one of the biggest directors in Hollywood, he made a name for himself with this film — one of his earlier works. “El Espinazo del Diablo,” or “The Devil’s Backbone,” tells the story of a 12-year-old boy who ends up in a haunted orphanage. Del Toro loves a creepy child story, and this is one of his firsts.

“One of the bests from this masterful director,” says Garza Cervera. “It is a poetic ghost story that talks about the horrors of war.”

Watch on YouTube, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play and iTunes.

“Trouble Every Day” by Claire Denis

CREDIT: Trouble Every Day is bloody good. Photo credit: CineFiles/Arte France Cinema

This existential French horror film delves into gender roles through the story of an American couple on their honeymoon in Paris, experiments in the human libido, and the imprisonment of a woman. It gets pretty bloody. Garza Cervera calls it “one of the first movies from the new French extremity wave.”

Available for streaming on Amazon Prime.

“Rebeca a Esas Alturas” by Luciana Jauffred

CREDIT: Rebeca A Estas Alturas. Photo credit: Vimeo/La Fabrica Films Mexico

Garza Cervera calls this Mexican short film one of her favorites of all time. It’s the story of a mother and housewife who has a very hard time succumbing to those roles.

“It is a clever story that talks about the inner trouble housewives deal with in a fantastic way,” she says.

Watch the whole thing on Vimeo.

Happy Halloween!


RENT: 17 Perfectly Creepy Horror Movies By Latinos To Watch Before You Die

Ready for a good scare tonight? Then share this story with your friends and plan a movie night!

Netflix Is Bringing Latinidad To The Fantasy Realm And LOTR Fans Gear Up

Entertainment

Netflix Is Bringing Latinidad To The Fantasy Realm And LOTR Fans Gear Up

Streaming services like Netflix have become our go-to place for fresh media. So, whenever we hear of a new project coming from the streaming service, we’re all in. Last November, Netflix announced a huge 6 project animated deal that will bring even more cartoon goodness to our screens. One, in particular, has us especially excited because it comes from animator and director Jorge Gutierrez. You might remember him from Nickelodeon’s “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera” and the gorgeously animated “The Book of Life.”

Now, we’re seeing the first looks of Gutierrez’s new Netflix project, “Maya and the Three.”

Twitter / @mexopolis

Described as a Mesoamerican fantasy epic, the director sat down with VARIETY to share the origins of the project and the journey to get it made. Gutierrez was approached by Netflix with an alluring challenge: share his dream project with executives; the one he didn’t believe anyone would ever allow him to make. It only took him one pitch to win the streaming giant over and “Maya” was greenlit for production.

“So I sat down on Jan. 25th of [2018] and that was the first time I ever pitched ‘Maya,’” he shared with VARIETY. “No art, no writing, just an idea. And here I am 11 months later, knee-deep in production.”

It was Gutierrez’s goal to portray a “bad-ass female Mesoamerican hero” in a fantasy world of his own creation.

Twitter / @zette16

“I started seeing a lot of things I didn’t like as far as not having any lead females, especially in Mesoamerican mythology,” he explained. “So I said I want to have a hero who is a half-god half-human warrior princess.”

In the Netflix series, a demigod warrior princess named Maya embarks on a quest to recruit three legendary fighters. With their help, she hopes to save the worlds of god and man from destruction. The intention was to show Maya as a strong female lead and, to do so, Gutierrez pulled from his real-life heroes. The director credits his sister, mother and his wife, Sandra Equihua for inspiring the mythical heroine. Equihua is also a talented animator and acts as a character designer for the female characters in her husband’s work.

With his female lead in place, Gutierrez focused on the mystical world that “Maya” would be set in.

Twitter / @mexopolis

The setting for the Netflix limited series has been growing in Gutierrez’s mind since he was a boy growing up in Mexico City. He would wander the halls of the Museum of Natural History and makeup stories about what he saw. These stories would later help to mold the setting. Even now, the director has fun teasing his Twitter followers with hints about what the new series could look like. However, it’s the architecture from his boyhood explorations, Gutierrez’s fondness for skulls and the pantheon of Mesoamerican gods that have helped to create Maya’s world.

Due to the mystical quest and the fantasy setting of “Maya and the Three,” Gutierrez has taken to calling the series the Mexican “Lord of the Rings.” Still, it’s a fantasy first and foremost. The director wants everyone to understand that “Maya” is inspired by Mesoamerican culture but is not meant to be an accurate representation.

“I tell everybody that while it’s inspired by Mesoamerica, this will be as accurate (to that world) as ‘Rocky’ was to boxing,” Gutierrez shared with VARIETY. “It’s all fantasy and I’m having a blast playing with the history.”

The series will feature a number of talented Latinx writers, producers and voice actors to bring Maya to life.

Instagram / @thraxisjr

Silvia Olivas from “Elena of Avalor” is acting as a co-writer and co-producer for “Maya and the Three.” From Disney’s “Moana,” Jeff Ranjo is the head of story. Paul Sullivan, who worked with Gutierrez on “The Book of Life,” is the production designer.

Despite these important hires, animators were in short supply so the producer had to get creative.

“Especially in L.A., we are all fighting for basically the same people, so now we’re looking outside. Before we announced Maya, I would go online and look for artists who were already inspired by Mesoamerica and say to them ‘You already love this stuff, we love it too! Come to our team.’”

Gutierrez used Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr to find animators that could do justice to the project. This modern-day recruiting system allowed Gutierrez and his team to find fresh artists with untapped talent to animate “Maya.” The results promise to be unique and beautiful.

The series is still a long ways away; it won’t debut on Netflix until its 2021 worldwide release. While it’s a long wait, the director promises fans that it is well worth it.

“Please have patience,” he told fans through his VARIETY interview. “This is gonna take a while, but we hope it’s unlike anything anyone has ever seen. We are so giddy every day and still can’t believe this is happening.”

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

Entertainment

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

When it comes to grooming a daughter’s hair, Black fathers haven’t been shy about expressing the difficulties that come along with the morning ritual. And Afro-Latino fathers are no exception. In Latinx communities with large Afro-Latino populations, having “good hair” is a label we all have to contend with. Young girls have a lot of pressure put on them to look put-together so, by extension, our families look put together. 

We all have memories of our mothers making sure our baby-bangs were smoothed down and our outfits were washed and pressed to perfection. 

Being well-groomed is so important to Afro-Latinos who face societal pressure to look perfect in order to combat bias.

Kickstarter

So, when fathers occasionally have to groom their children when their mother is unavailable, the pressure, needless to say, is on. We’ve all seen the genre of viral videos where fathers struggle to part, brush, braid and secure their daughters’ hair–obviously not previously aware of all the labor that goes into daily hair upkeep. Even celebrities have gotten in on the trend with men like Alexis Ohanian, husband to Serena Williams, joining “Natural Hair” groups on Facebook to learn more about their children’s rizos

Writer/director Matthew Cherry wanted to explore the topic of Black fathers doing their daughters hair, so he decided to make an animated short about it.

Kickstarter

According to Cherry, the short, titled “Hair Love” is about a Black father (who has locs himself) who does his daughter’s hair for the first time. “You know how guys are, a lot of times we’re hard-headed and we think we can figure everything out by ourselves without asking for help,” said Cherry during an interview. “[The father in the short] thinks it’s going to be an easy task but he soon finds out her hair has a mind of its own”. 

The father isn’t the only one who learns a lesson in self-confidence in the course of the film, though. In the end, the young girl also “comes into a level of self-confidence in the process” of her father learning how to do her hair. So, in other words, the entire film is an ode to self-love, family, and the priceless experience of bonding.

To finance “Hair Love”, Cherry created a Kickstarter campaign with the initial goal of raising $75,000. The campaign quickly caught the internet’s attention and became a viral phenomenon thanks to celebrity champions like Issa Rae and Jordan Peele. The $75,000 goal was quickly surpassed. All in all, the campaign raked in a total of $280,000–smashing Kickstarter’s short-film financing records. 

Cherry recruited Black animators like “Proud Family”‘s Bruce W. Smith and “WALL-E”‘s Everett Downing Jr. to help him make his dreams a reality.

As for Cherry, he’s candid about the reason he decided to explore the topic of Black hair and Black fathers: because mainstream media’s representation has left much to be desired. According to Cherry, not only did he want to shine a light on the labor of love that doing Black hair requires, but he wanted to highlight the relationships between Black fathers and their daughters. 

“For me, I just think it was really important to shine a light on Black fathers doing domestic things with their kids because mainstream media would lead you to believe that Black fathers aren’t a part of their kids’ lives”, Cherry said. “And there have been a lot of recent surveys that actually show otherwise–that show that Black fathers are just as involved in their kids’ lives as any other racial group”.

Now, “Hair Love” will be played ahead of “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters nationwide

Kickstarter

The nationwide release will provide a massive platform for an under-told story. Not to mention, it will provide Black children with their own images reflected back to them–something many of them haven’t seen before. Not to mention, the security of a theatrical release has made “Hair Love” officially eligible for an Academy Award nomination. 

As for Cherry, he’s over-the-moon about the opportunity for his project to be seen by millions of people. “To see this project go from a Kickstarter campaign to the big screen is truly a dream come true,” he said in a press statement. “I couldn’t be more excited for “Hair Love” to be playing with “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in front of a wide audience and for the world to see our touching story about a Black father trying to figure out how to do his daughter’s hair for the very first time.”

We’ll admit: we didn’t have plans to see “Angry Birds 2” in theaters before we knew about this. But now, you might just see us on opening night, standing in line for the movie right next to our fathers! Catch “Hair Love” before  “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters on August 14th.

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