Things That Matter

15 Latino Directors Challenging Hollywood’s Huge Diversity Problem

It’s old news that Hollywood has a huge diversity problem (#Oscarsowhite, anybody?). Even beyond the Academy Awards, this year’s Cannes Film Festival left a LOT to be desired when it came to Latino representation. Only one film from a Latino director was up for the Palm d’Or– the festival’s top honor– and only one Latino feature was included in the Directors’ Fortnight. YIKES.

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that the movie biz is run by white folks. Yes, it sucks, but the good news is there are some truly kickass people of color out there paving the way for the rest of us. I’m talking directors, specifically. You likely know and love the work of famous Latino and Latin American directors like Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Guillermo del Toro, and Robert Rodriguez. They’re awesome! But here are some lesser-known directors whose work is worth seeking out and supporting:


1. Patricia Riggen

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Credit: YouTube/ ColliderVideos

Riggen is a Mexican-born filmmaker currently kicking ass and taking names in Hollywood. Best known for her film Under the Same Moon and the super fun TV movie Lemonade Mouth, she’s directed prominent actors such as Eva Mendes, Patricia Arquette, and America Ferrera. In terms of directors, she’s one you for sure need to have on your radar. Her recent film, The 33, follows the real-life story of Chilean miners trapped underground for over two months.


2. Magdalena Albizu

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Credit: Magdalena Albizu, via La Respuesta Media

Albizu’s documentary, La Negrita, focuses on the Afro-Latino experience in the U.S., both in terms of how individual Afro-Latinos define themselves, as well as how they’re viewed and labeled by fellow Latinos. The preview on Vimeo shows how Albizu’s own Dominican parents viewed her embrace of being black (their relationship with the term is, in a word, complicated), as well as the currency of the term “negrita” itself. You can follow Albizu’s journey towards fully funding her documentary via the film’s website.


3. Guillermo Arriaga

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Credit: CC / Wikipedia

Arriaga is an excellent director, and is known for both Spanish-language and English-language films. You’ve likely seen Amores Perros and 21 Grams, both of which he produced and wrote. A true renaissance man, Arriaga is not only lending his perspective and vision to directing and screenwriting, he’s also a novelist. No, we have no idea when he finds the time to sleep.


4. Janicza Bravo

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Credit: MySpace / Janicza Bravo

Bravo, who’s lived in Panama and New York, is not only a director, writer, producer, and actor, she’s also a costume designer, and her eye for style and form is evident across her work. Her first short film, Eat, was nominated for a SXSW Audience Award, and she later took home the Sundance Grand Jury Prize for her film Gregory Goes Boom, which starred Michael Cera and was inspired by a very fraught first date Bravo witnessed firsthand


5. Luis Mandoki

Credit: YouTube / CorreCamara Cine

You’ve either seen or heard of Mexico City-born Mandoki’s films Message in a Bottle and Angel Eyes, starring none other than Jennifer LopezHe’s an extremely successful director who’s crossed over with both Latin hits and American hits. It’s always incredibly inspiring when a director can find success across multiple audiences.


6. Patricia Cardoso

Credit: The LA Times / Ana Luisa Gonzalez

She made one of my favorite films ever, Real Women Have CurvesShe made a film that celebrated a Latina’s body just the way it is, and we all fell in love with this film. It was a time when someone was saying, “Hey! You don’t have to be a model or stick thin. You can just be you.” So. Good.


7. Aurora Guerrero

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Credit: IMDB / mibryant@imdb.com

Guerrero  is a Chicana filmmaker and LGBT director, which makes her a voice for pretty much one of the least represented demographics on this list. Which is also why she’s so important. Cool note: Not only did Guerrero give us the coming-of-age love story Mosquita y Mari, she also assisted director Patricia Cardoso on the film, Real Women Have Curves. YAAAS!


8. Andrés Muschietti

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Credit: YouTube /  RUEMORGUEMAGAZINE

A master of horror, Muschietti is the Argentinean director responsible for giving us Mama, an English-language, feature-length story of his own Spanish-language short film, Mamá, which he also wrote. Both versions will make you scream and cry in equal doses.


9. Carmen Marron

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Credit: IMDB

The Endgame director joins the list of kickass Latina filmmakers. Marron also gave us Go For It!, and any movie about dancing your way to the very top is a-ok by us. We can’t stress enough how important it is that these women get some recognition! Props to the ladies fighting back and giving young Latina directors some inspiration.


10. Rodrigo Reyes

Credit: Colombia.com

A relative fresh face in the filmmaking world, this Mexican director garnered buzz on his documentary Purgatorio, which reimagined the Mexican / U.S. border as a mythical place. He’s also an extremely practical artist. The advice he gave to Filmmaker Magazine? Don’t quit your day job. “I wholeheartedly embrace the truth that it is incredibly rare for someone to be dedicated completely to his or her work.”


11.  Cecilia Aldarondo

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Credit: Filmmaker Magazine

Aldarondo’s documentary subject hit very close to her home: she dove into the life and death of her uncle Miguel, who succumbed to AIDS in the ’80s. The story revolves as much around what isn’t said as much as what is. Her family, she learns, was not exactly forthcoming when it came to details of Miguel’s life after leaving Puerto Rico, and that included details about his partner, Robert… who then became a monk. Through Aldarondo’s lens, a story that feels quintessentially Latino finds new life and depth.


12. José Nestor Marquez

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Credit: Telemundo

If you’re a lover of sci-fi thrillers, you should know José’s name. He’s behind Reversion, a film that tackles the nature of our memories and our increased reliance on technology. A Latino director in the world of science fiction is so important – and gives major hope to science fiction nerds everywhere.


13. Reinaldo Marcus Green

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Credit: Reinaldo Marcus Green / IMDB

An actor, writer, and producer in addition to being a director, Green is an NYU grad who made waves at Sundance with his short film Stop, and earned a much-deserved spot on Filmmaker Magazine’s 2015 list of 25 New Faces of Indie Film.


14. Damián Szifron

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Credit: Víctor Santa María / Wikipedia

A hustler to the nth degree, this man made one of two Latino-oriented films that earned high recognition at Cannes. His film Wild Talesis a series of vignettes that he wrote AND directed. These overachievers, man.


15. Diego Lerman

Credit: Miami Film Festival

While Lerman works primarily in Argentina, his film Refugiado has gained notable traction internationally.


It can totally feel frustrating when we see a lack of Latino represented at film festivals, awards shows, and in our movie theaters. But this list reminds me that there are tons of us out there, working hard and creating art, and it’s totally inspiring.


WATCH: A Group of Students Made a Día de los Muertos Film and It’s Actually Pretty Good

Who are some of your favorite Latino directors? mitú wants to know – leave a comment below!

Sofia Vergara Recalls Brother’s Death During Powerful AGT Audition: ‘I Can Feel Your Pain’

Entertainment

Sofia Vergara Recalls Brother’s Death During Powerful AGT Audition: ‘I Can Feel Your Pain’

NBC

A recent audition on “America’s Got Talent” made judge Sofia Vergara so emotional that it inspired her to open up about a tragedy very personal to her.

On Tuesday’s episode of the competition series, Vergara watched 27-year-old Brandon Leake take the stage to deliver a spoken-word performance that resonated with Vergara.

Leake, a former high school English teacher introduced his piece by dedicating it to his sister.

“Love is the most vulnerable thing one will ever have,” Leake explained during his performance “And you must learn to hold onto it loosely so when it leaves it won’t exit so painfully.” During the performance, Leake recalled losing his sister in the late ‘90s saying “I’m still haunted by these nightmares ’cause I have a really creative mind, and sometimes it designs these alternate realities where she is still here.”

Continuing Leake said “Still alive, and all the things I wish we could have done are played again and again and again. I’m tired of playing God ’cause I gotta come to terms with the fact that my sister ain’t never comin’ back.”

The “Modern Family” actress became visibly emotional during the performance and teared up.

Judges Howie Mandel and Simon Cowell were quick to give Leakes a standing ovation.

“What an amazing tribute,” Cowell said. “There’s something very, very special about you. This is a very difficult thing for me to judge. I shouldn’t be judging it, I just want to compliment you on what you just did because it was extraordinary.”

Mandel commended Leake’s performance saying “we feel your pain, we feel your love, and you moved me to do this” before hitting the Golden Buzzer which means he is being sent straight to the AGT live shows.

Vergara shared with Leake that his poem reminded her of the loss and grief she experienced after losing her own brother.”My brother passed away the same year that your sister passed away. I can feel your pain; I know what this is. I know what it is to have somebody taken from you without you knowing,” Vergara said before going on to say that the poem was “very beautiful for me.”

On Tuesday evening, Vergara tweeted that Leake’s performance was “a great way to end the night!!!”

In 1998, Vergara’s older brother Rafael was murdered while men attempted to kidnap him.

Vergara opened up about the death in 2011 for a Parade cover story, telling the magazine “My older brother, Rafael, was killed in Colombia… “Mother was like a zombie… I wanted to be with them. So I got a big house and we all lived together. I am so grateful to be in this country.”

Quibi Is Doing A ‘Princess Bride’ Remake Of Sorts Starring Sophie Turner And Joe Jonas

Entertainment

Quibi Is Doing A ‘Princess Bride’ Remake Of Sorts Starring Sophie Turner And Joe Jonas

20th Century Fox

Inconceivable?

Just when we thought the ‘80s classic The Princess Bride was untouchable in terms of facing a remake, Quibi decided to take it on amid the current pandemic. According to The New York Post, the American short-form mobile video platform is going DIY with the beloved film. The celeb-studded film will see the stars use their phones to film and edit the series. The homemade fan film will premiere exclusively on the platform and will debut two chapters at a time.

“Game Of Thrones” star Sophie Turner and her husband Joe Jonas are set to play the lead romantic couple… with a twist.

Turner will take on the role of lovestruck Westley while Jonas will take on Princess Buttercup. Joining the couple is an all-star cast that includes Beanie Feldstein, Zazie Beetz, Hugh Jackman, Chris Pine, Keegan-Michael Key, Tiffany Haddish. Actor Fred Savage, who played the role of The Grandson in the original film, will also return, this time as… The Grandson. So it will most certainly be funny.

“The actors will trade-off roles throughout scenes, each paying homage to The Princess Bride in their own unique way,” the New York Post reported about the fan-made film. The outlet also revealed that in order to keep up with scenes that require crowds, they’ll use Legos and stuffed animals.

Turns out COVID-19 inspires creativity?

Fortunately, this reboot has a pretty great purpose other than staving off boredom.

Quibi has pledged to donate $1 million in honor of the homemade fan-made film to give to World Central Kitchen, an organization striving to provide meals to those in need during the pandemic.

The first chapter of this quirky project is set to debut on June 29.