ESTILO AMERICANO was the winner of BEST FILM at the January 2021 LATINO Feedback Film Festival.
1. What motivated you to make this film?
Since the election of Donald Trump Latinos have become a constant target. It shocked and frustrated me. I’ve had many conversations with Latino friends trying to understand their sentiment and also why there wasn’t a collective uprising. It turns out that many families are very divided. In my research I focused on finding out why people are so divided. It’s impossible to address this large and very diverse demographic with the same rhetoric. Culturally there are a lot of differences, being Puerto Rican is not the same as being El Salvadoriaan. Plus there are generational differences. I wanted to create insight into the diverse identities and experiences that exist in the Latino community. Also, I wanted to portray a middle class, educated family, something you don’t see often in media and entertainment. This demographic – which is a very large group, is hugely underrepresented. It was important to me to move away from stereo types. By telling these kind of stories I express my thoughts and feelings about our society.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?
I had the idea in early 2019. I was working on another project called ‘Living in America’ and spent time in Europe. When I returned to the US in August I wrote an outline and a first draft. We shot the film in early February 2020 and did the entire post production process during the lock down. We had a finished film by May.
3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?
That’s a difficult question. Without sounding arrogant, I do think it’s an important and an emotional film that documents a paramount moment in time.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Completing the film during a lock down. Everything was done remote. It’s a great testimony to the team that we were able to achieve this result.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
Very powerful, humbling and incredibly rewarding. This is why I do what I do as a filmmaker and visual artist. I want to communicate my ideas with the audience and try to convey emotion and dialogue.
Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:
6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
I tell stories and give platforms to different voices and I focus on ‘invisible’ people in society. I’m also an activist and express my views through my storytelling. I was inspired by many conversations I had with Latino friends combined with my personal anger and frustration about what’s going on in this country. I also made a Latino feature called ‘Greencard Warriors’ several years ago, so I feel invested in the Latino community. The injustice and misconceptions that are being fed are poisonous and I try to give more insight into the Latino experience. I hope to create more understanding and less judgement. We are all people and we want and deserve the same opportunities.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Oh my god. So many!! I watch the movies that I love over and over. I really don’t know, but here are my top 10 of most watched:
Scarface, The Godfather 1 & 2, Pulp Fiction, The Insider, l’Eclipse, The Deer hunter, Chinatown, Platoon, The Player, Un Prophet.
8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are your feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?
Yes, it’s quick and easy and very helpful. Submitting to festivals can be very time consuming and expensive and anything to make this process easier is highly appreciated.
9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?
Again, I’m also a music head and I listen to music all the time. I won’t bore you with another top 10, but I played Dr Dre’s ‘The Chronic’ to death.
10. What is next for you? A new film?
I’m working on several projects. One of them is also with producer Ellen Utrecht. It’s powerful project set in Africa. It’s the true story about a Dutch scientist fighting big Pharma in his quest to eradicate malaria. I’m also trying to close my film ‘Juveniles’ which is a true story about 2 girls in a juvenile detention center. All my projects deal with social justice topics. Ellen and I try to make a difference with the stories we tell.