Entertainment

This Latino Director Was Deeply Affected by a Family Tragedy, So He Turned it into a Triumph

Have you checked the credits of TV hits Glee and American Horror Story? No? It’s OK. We did, and one of the talented names behind those hits is Latino director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. Remember it. This rising film director’s second feature, the comedy-drama Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, wowed audiences at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. And it wouldn’t have happened if Gomez-Rejon hadn’t been through some really tough times. Here’s how Gomez-Rejon built his career and turned his personal struggles into professional triumphs.

He’s a Proud Tejano

Film Comes First

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Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures / dvdizzy.com

Gomez-Rejon has been obsessed with movies since he was a kid. He grew up idolizing Martin Scorsese after watching the classics: Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull.

Scorsese’s Got His Back …

Credit: Movieclips / YouTube

Gomez-Rejon’s dream of working with Scorsese came true when he earned a gig as a production assistant on the famed director’s 1995 crime drama Casino. Gomez-Rejon proudly admits he continues to receive advice and support from Scorsese.

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… So Did Ephron

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Photo Credit: Me Earl and the Dying Girl / Facebook

Gomez-Rejon also scored big-time gigs with Nora Ephron, the writer-director of When Harry Met Sally andSleepless in Seattle. He first worked with Ephron in You’ve Got Mail, but his professional life changed when Ephron made Paramount Studios hire Gomez-Rejon as second-unit director on Lucky Numbers, which allowed him to join the Directors Guild of America.

And Murphy, Too

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Photo Credit: FOX

Ryan Murphy, the creator of Glee, came knocking after Gomez-Rejon worked as a second unit director on the filmsBabel, Argo and Eat Pray Love. Gomez-Rejon went on to direct eight episodes of Glee, including the uber-popular Lady Gaga tribute episode “Born This Way.”  

He’s Got a Dark Side

He Loves Working with Friends

Credit: Chanel / YouTube

It’s certainly true in the case of Gomez-Rejon. His first feature film, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, was produced by none other than Ryan Murphy. And the visually striking commercial for Blue de Chanel? The video was directed by Scorsese, with Gomez-Rejon serving as writer and second unit director.

READ: 11 Movies That Prove Que Sí Se Puede

He Can Also Go Solo

He’s a Daddy’s Boy

Credit: sff / YouTube

Gomez-Rejon dedicated Me and Earl and The Dying Girl to his late father, Julio Cesar Gomez-Rejon. He says the film’s theme — that a person’s story doesn’t end with death — was inspired by the impact his father continues to have on his life.

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Check Out These Beautiful Ofrendas Dedicated To Beloved Latino Icons

Entertainment

Check Out These Beautiful Ofrendas Dedicated To Beloved Latino Icons

As the weather cools down and Halloween pops up on our calendars, there’s another holiday quickly approaching that deserves it’s own attention. Every October and November, people from Northern Mexico and around the world celebrate Día de los Muertos by building ofrendas to honor those who they have lost. Ofrendas are shrines set up with the photos of deceased loved ones along with personal items that they appreciated in life. Originating from the Aztecs, these shrines are meant to commemorate their dead loved ones and guide them home on the one day when their souls can journey from the spirit world to the world of the living. 

While ofrendas often honor deceased family members and friends, it’s not unusual to see alters also set up for famous people who have passed away. Fans build these shrines to celebrities in order to pay tribute to their legacy. These celebrity alters are usually as elaborate and amazing as the famous people they are meant to honor. 

Here are some of the remarkable celebrity ofrendas that prove that fame and the love of their fans are everlasting. 

1. Anything for Selenas.

Instagram / @sumnerboi

Selena is one of the most recognizable celebrities of the Latinidad so it makes sense that she’d have quite a few ofrendas built to remember her. San Antonio’s Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery is a Mexican restaurant that keeps this shrine of Selena up all year long to celebrate the Queen of Tejano. 

2. Dedicated to the icons of Mexico.

Instagram / @eltinterodemama

This colorful ofrenda is a reminder that these shrines can be for more than one person at a time. On this alter, Mexican pop culture is represented by superstar actress Maria Felix, comedian and TV star Chespirito (Roberto Gomez Bolanos) and artist Frida Kahlo. Offerings of fruit, food and alcohol adorn this ofrenda to tempt and delight the spirits of these deceased stars. 

3. A shrine fit for a food god.

Instagram / @hunger_street

Two years ago, the food world lost a huge star with the untimely death of Anthony Bourdain. The celebrity chef was known for traveling the world and learning about local customs and cuisine in such a respectful way that it endeared him to the communities that he visited. This earned him the spot of honor on this ofrenda. 

4. Frida’s ofrenda.

Instagram / @raul_krnx

Frida Kahlo is an artist who has only become more beloved in death. Her image is used in everything from jewelry and makeup to home goods and tee shirts. This shrine pays tribute to the legendary artista with pots of food, Mexican marigolds and skeletal attendants. 

5. An alter for Poet Paz.

Instagram / @lamovidapanama

Octavio Paz was a Nobel Prize-winning poet and one of the most influential voices in Mexican literature. His words have been a source of comfort and inspiration to millions of readers over the years. He was also a diplomat and fought against fascism in Mexico and abroad. All these accomplishments deserve to be remembered and Paz is honored in this papel picado-filled ofrenda. 

6. An offering to two legends.

Instagram / @melodysev

This past decade, we’ve lost some remarkable souls but none more beloved than music artists Prince and David Bowie. The Prince of Funk and Ziggy Stardust have millions of fans across the world and they are still remembered for being innovators and entertainers. This ofrenda in honor of the two was fittingly built at the Santa Barbara Bowl an amphitheater dedicated to great music.  

7. RIP Tony Stark.

Twitter / @mkhenderson428

Sometimes fictional characters touch us so much that they become real to us. So, when a character like this passes away, it’s only natural to honor them the way we would a real person. This Day of the Dead project was dedicated to Tony Stark aka Iron Man. Gone but never forgotten. 

8. Dedicated to las mujeres.

Instagram / @ilaments

This ofrenda was built in tribute to powerful Latinas. Women like Celia Cruz, Jessica Torres, Margarita Neri, and Delores del Río are immortalized among other great women who will always have a special place in history and in the hearts of their fans.

9. An icon from the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.

Instagram / @chableresort

Besides ofrendas, grave sites are also decorated as alters for Día de los Muertos. One of the biggest actors of Mexico’s Golden Age of cinema, Pedro Infante is buried in the Yucatan. For the Day of the Dead, his grave site was adorned with Mexican marigolds and candles to guide his spirit back to the world of the living. 

10. The King has entered the building.

Instagram / @beijingemily

One of the most legendary celebrities to have ever lived is Elvis Presley and the man has become a bigger icon in death. There are still claims of Elvis sightings all over the world. Maybe, those fans are just seeing Elvis’ spirit as he returns to visit the thousands of shrines that are dedicated to him for Día de Los Muertos and year-round.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4TnFSXDWaM 

These 11 Terrifying Latino Horror Films Need To Be Added To Your October Watch List

Entertainment

These 11 Terrifying Latino Horror Films Need To Be Added To Your October Watch List

Miramax Films

If you’re a horror fan, and you haven’t seen these, then you know nothing about real fear. As a child, I would binge-watch every single horror movie I could find. They creeped the hell out of me, but I loved the adrenaline rush. Name any classic you want, I’ve seen them all; the more I watched, the less they scared me. Later, I discovered that most of these mainstream films relied on what is known as “boo horror,” which basically means that what scares the audience is thanks to good editing rather than the story.

And well, let me tell you that, just when I was starting to get bored of this particular type of horror: enter Latino cinema. The thing about Latin American horror movies is that they don’t rely on jump scares or outdated clichés. The reason why they’re scary is the plot and the themes they explore. So, if you’re ready to be really scared, I dare you to watch these 11 films.

Night Of The Living Dead

Did you know George Romero’s dad was Cuban? (I did, because like all Cubans, I keep a running list.) Well, he is! And so Romero is on this here list. Now, you’ve very likely already seen his opus, Night of the Living Dead, and know its contributions to the zombie genre, effectively changing the pop culture perception of zombies from corpses controlled by others through ritual means, to undead jerkwads lumbering slowly towards you while you take shelter in a shack or perhaps, later, in a shopping mall. But that doesn’t mean you can’t watch it again. And again and again.

Santa Sangre

No one does avant-garde psychedelic weirdness like Jodorowsky. Santa Sangre is no exception, following the story of Fenix, a former circus performer, and his relationship to his parents, particularly to the mother who keeps a literal and figurative hold on him through much of his development.

Roger Ebert praised Jodorowsky for expanding the horror genre by reminding viewers that “true psychic horror is possible on the screen–horror, poetry, surrealism, psychological pain and wicked humor, all at once.”

KM 31

This one is secretly about La Llorona. I have to admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending but the rest of the film was amazing. The production value was on par with a Hollywood horror film. This one is about the power of twins. One has an accident that leaves her in a coma. The conscious twin tries to figure out what happened to her sister and winds up in the tangles of a curse on the highway’s Kilometro 31.

Mas Negro Que La Noche

Hot girl inherits creepy old house and is forced to watch after a black cat. What can go wrong? They used to play this on Univision back in the day when they used to have old Mexican movie marathons on Sundays. This flick is filled with famous 70s & 80s Mexican telenovela stars: Lucia Mendez, Claudia Islas, Elena Rojo, and Susana Dosamantes (aka Paulina Rubio’s mom).

The Devil’s Backbone

I originally had four (4) del Toro movies on this list and had to narrow it down to two, which was like picking from among one’s children. (I assume picking a favorite child is equally difficult as picking a favorite movie, yes? I knew it.)

But here’s the thing: You’ve already seen The Devil’s Backbone. You already know the deal: Spanish Civil War, orphanage, defused bomb, mysterious ghost-boy. So I’ll use this space to share this link to the story of why del Toro often distances himself from a movie taken off the list: Mimic. Because there’s always a place for classic ghost stories, but never enough for giant mutant insects.

Cronos

Here’s our other del Toro entry: Cronos! Because who doesn’t love a good, inventive twist on a vampire story that also serves as a metaphor for society’s obsession with youth and virility? Cronos beat out Crimson Peak because, while the latter is truly a beautiful, visually stunning work, Cronos‘ story of love, loss and sacrifice simply holds up better throughout the film.

REC

Spain is at it again with this cinéma vérité (aka mock documentary aka found footage) style zombie flick. Scary as hell! Don’t let the crappy American version, Quarantine, fool you. This one will make you check behind the shower curtain when you pee.

Alucarda

Being a teen girl is hard enough, never mind being an orphan in a Catholic convent. Add demonic possession into the mix and you have a recipe for disaster / a truly fantastic horror movie with stunning visuals (just take a look at the nuns’ super stylized and highly evocative habits and robes, for instance). The film’s emphasis on a close emotional and physical relationship between two young girls has drawn comparisons to the classic vampire tale, Carmilla, made all the more apparent when you notice that “Alucarda” is simply “Dracula” with the letters rearranged.

Somos Lo Que Hay

The family that eats together, stays together, for better or for worse. In this film, which was remade for U.S. audiences in 2013, follows a family struggling with maintaining an ancient, bloody ritual and the impact it has both on their bodies and souls. You’ll never look at family dinners the same way again.

From Dusk Til Dawn

Vampires, as it turns out, can take on all sorts of day jobs, like dancing at the infamous “Titty Twister” strip club. Robert Rodriguez’s pulpy take on vampires takes place in a small town in Mexico and includes plenty of bikers, truck drivers, fugitives, and the site of an ancient Aztec temple.

Mama

Argentine director Andrés Muschietti based his feature film about a spooky-but-maternal ghosts, Mama, on his own 2008, Spanish-language short, Mamá. You can watch the whole thing here, but make sure to keep the lights on. Muschietti is definitely one to watch