Thursday, February 23, 2017

Tanna: Ready To Break The Rules At The Oscars® 2017

By José Alberto Hermosillo

The Australian delegation of the nominated film “Tanna,” will be breaking the rules by leaving their formal attire hanging in the closet and using their traditional tribal outfits on the red carpet of the most important awards in Hollywood.

The Yakel people won't be wearing Armani, Valentino, Versace or Dior for that special evening.

The contrast with their clothes will give voice and presence to the indigenous people of the world.  
The movie “Tanna” is a celebration of World Cinema, a true story performed by the real people of Yakel and inspired by a Vanuatu tribal song.
Directors Bentley Dean and Martin Butler PHOTO JOSE A HERMOSILLO ©2017 FESTIVAL IN LA

The delegation includes Bentley Dean (Co-director and co-writer), Martin Butler, (Co-director and co-writer). Lingai Kawia (cast), Seline Kawia (cast), JJ Nako (Cultural Director and the bridge between the people of Yakel and the outside world and translator).

The Best Foreign Film nominee "Tanna," is the underdog to win gold in a category that is ruled by the European productions, out of 68 awards handed out by the Academy, fifty-six have gone to European countries.
Actress Sandra Hüller, Toni Erdmann, photo by Jose Hermosillo, © copyrights Festival in LA, 2017
In the highly contested Foreign Language Film category, the front-runner is “Toni Erdmann” from Germany, which is expected to win. But the American audience has been connected to the war movie "Land of Mine" from Denmark.  

In recent days, the representative of Iran has been generating so much controversy for the new Immigration executive orders restricted citizens from certain Muslim countries to enter the United States. 

Award®winner director Asghar Farhadi.
Photo by Jose Hermosillo, 
© copyrights Festival in LA, 2017
“The Salesman” could give its second Oscar® to Iranian visionary director Asghar Farhadi (“A Separation”) and his absence will be regrettable unless his acceptance speech is broadcast from another country.
“A Man Called Ove” from Sweden has two nominations, for Best Foreign Film and for Best Makeup.
"Tanna" will push the envelope generating more controversy to a polarized Awards® ceremony in these convoluted times in America. 

Friday, February 3, 2017

10 Best Latino Performances of 2016 and Their Absence From The Nominations

By José Alberto Hermosillo,

It is Award Season. Many are wondering why Latino actors are not nominated for the Oscars and Golden Globes.

Last year, the African-American community ignited a movement, #OscarsSoWhite. 

They rightly argued the lack of people of color nominated in the acting categories for the past two years. The hashtag went viral within minutes after the nominations announced.

Their campaign in social media brought the attention of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences to change its rules. They needed to bring in new members of minority groups and encouraged movie studios to cast more diversity in their productions.

This year, African-Americans are making sure they heard their voices by producing high-quality films competing for the awards: “Fences,” “Loving,” “Moonlight,” “Hidden Figures,” “Kicks.” Also the documentaries: “13th,” “I Am Not Your Negro,” and “O.J.: Made in America.”

It makes us think: is this year going to be #OscarsSoBlackAndWhite and nothing in between? What about Latinos, Asians, and Native-Americans?

This extraordinary example set by brave Afro-American filmmakers must be followed by our Latino constituents to produce compelling films with universal themes, worthy of Awards. 

In 2016, Latinos had modest participation in the movies, but their excellent performances have overlooked this Award Season.

Some schools, organizations and film festivals began incubating new talent from minority groups. But it is taking way too long. Other foundations are helping with small grants to help finish their modest projects, but those are “baby steps” to reach out to the level of excellence needed to compete for Awards.

You don’t cure cancer with an aspirin.

In a more optimistic and inclusive world, influential A-list Latino directors (Del Toro, Cuarón, Iñárritu) should be bolder to seek, produce, direct, and mentor stories where Latino actors can play the leads. 

Filmmaking is a collaborative effort. Mentoring is the key to success.                              
Actor Géza Röhrig and filmmaker Laszló Nemes. Photo by Jose A: Hermosillo. Copyrights, 2016
Last year, first-time filmmaker Laszló Nemes won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film for “Son of Saul.” He was mentored by the now-retired, Hungarian director Béla Tarr (“The Turin Horse”). The experience of a legendary filmmaker elevated the film to a high level of accomplishment. And that is what the Academy is looking for, excellence.

Why can’t Latinos follow this formula?

Halle Berry (“Monster’s Ball”) and Charlize Theron (“Monster”) won their Oscars because they produced their own films. They went bold and believed in their own projects. They accepted the challenge and went all the way to win gold.
Copyrights Modern Salon, Oct .2001.
The same thing happened when Salma Hayek produced “Frida.” She received an Oscar nomination because she worked really hard to make a magnificent film. She had the energy and courage to put things together. Also, she wanted to show the world her love for Mexico and its culture.
Juan de Dios Larrain, Gael Garcia and Pablo Larrain, The Neruda Team. Photo by Jose Hermosillo. Copyrights 2017

Chilean director Pablo Larrain and his brother, producer Juan De Dios Larrain, put together two great projects this year: “Neruda” with Gael Garcia Bernal and “Jackie” with Natalie Portman. Both were biopics and, in my opinion, were worthy of many awards.
Photo AFI FEST Copyrights, 2016.

However, “Jackie” did get the attention of the Academy voters. Again, it is a Latino director making a film without a Latino cast.

We, the Latinos who are working in the movie industry, need to compromise and make films worthy of a Golden Globe or an Oscar for Latino actors. We all have dreams, don’t we? 

Many Latino movies are making big money at the box office.
Uruguayan Director Fede Alvarez, Photo Jose Hermosillo, Copyrights 2017
However, Uruguayan filmmaker Fede Alvarez had a number one hit at the box-office two weeks in a row with his thriller “Don’t Breathe.”
No Manches Frida, L.A. Premiere. Photo Jose Hermosillo Copyrights, 2016
The Mexican comedy “No Manches Frida” started and produced by actress Martha Higadera ("Street Kings," "McFarland, USA"), was the number 8 in the U.S.A. as one of the most successful Independent films of the year.
Hands of Stone. Copyrights WTC, 2016.
The biopic of the Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran, directed by Venezuelan Jonathan Jakubowicz, “Hands of Stone” was a hit at the box-office and is having a big success overseas.
Mexican actor Diego Luna booked (and kept his accent) for the lead in one of the all-time highest-grossing, money making movies, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” Now, he is going to be Tony Montana in a new version of “Scarface.”

It’s important to recognize the excellence of many talented Latino actors from around the world, whether they are from Hollywood, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Chile. 

And the best Latino Performances in a film in 2016 are:
Sonia Braga
Premiered in Cannes

In "Aquarius," Sonia Braga's marvelous portrayal of Clara is unforgettable. She is a music critic, a mother and a cancer survivor who is fighting for her ocean-view apartment and to keep her family together with a great sense of dignity and respect.

Diego Luna
Rogue One:
A Star Wars Story

Diego Luna’s enormous screen presence is terrific as the rebel warrior Cassian Andor. He is making sure things happen in this spectacular, out of the Galaxy drama.

Edgar Ramírez
Panamá, USA
Premiered in Cannes

Edgar Ramirez playing Duran is remarkable. He trained for nine months before getting into character, to be able to start the physical transformation that allowed him to get closer to what this real world champion was.

Penélope Crúz
Ma ma
Spain, France
Penélope Crúz is at her best in this emotional journey of a pregnant woman with breast cancer. The love and support of her family will play a significant role in this compelling and convincing contemporary story.

Salma Hayek

"Septembers of Shiraz" is Salma Hayek’s best performance since "Frida." 

Gael García Bernal
Special Mention to:
Luis Gnecco
Mercedes Morán
Premiered in Cannes

"Neruda" is a cinematic work of art and poetry, full of temper and passion. This is the perfect antihero movie. Terrific cast."

Emma Suarez
Adriana Ugarte

The haunting story of an obsessive woman and her daughter told thirty years apart. Adriana Ugarte is young Julieta, and Emma Suarez is mature Julieta. Both Spaniard actresses are just fantastic under the direction of Pedro Almodóvar.

Leia Costa

Spanish actress Leila Costa is terrific playing Victoria. She will live one intense and unforgettable night in Berlin.

Lupita Nyong'o
Queen of Katwe
The U.S.A.
Kind and charismatic, Mexican-born Oscar Winner actress Lupita Nyong’o is marvelous in this chess movie out of Uganda.

Closing Night Film, LAFF

Gael Garcia Bernal is a natural playing this desperate young man who needs to cross the desert to reunite with his son. The drama of the immigrants will take global dimensions of today’s refugee crisis.


“Endless Poetry” The Atypical Universe of Alejandro Jodorowsky

“Desde Allá” Confronts the Macho Stereotypes with Hyper-realism

“Güeros” A Lyrical Love Letter to Mexico City

Copyright © 2017 Festival in LA 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Barry: And The Wonder Years of Barack Obama

By José Alberto Hermosillo,
Copyrights Netflix
Eclectic and fun to watch, “Barry” vividly shows the early days in the life of former U.S. President Barack Obama, his struggle, and his conflict of identity. 

Set during the 1980s, Barack or 
Barry, as his friends called him, arrives at the Big Apple to attend college.

Feeling uneasy, the first images that Barry captures in the streets are the profound differences in American society. His views over Whites and Blacks, in politics, and religion, radicalized.
Copyrights Netflix
Barry gets into an argument with a white classmate over why Afro-Americans relate everything to slavery, in his first-class. Both young men take it personally.

Copyrights Netflix
Trying to blend in, Barry plays hoops with the “boys from the hood,” who called him Invisible and Zero.” 

At this point, he starts learning the needs of young Americans for a better life. He likes to go out to the parties to meet girls, smoke marijuana, and have fun like any regular guy of his age. He goes to the school's rooftop to enjoy the view, relax and thinks about his future, while he smokes some more and hears his favorite music.

At that time, he starts dating a wealthy white girl who shows him the side of people with power.

"Barry" is a well-documented work of fiction written by Adam Mansbach.
 However, this is not a faithful biopic because of its literary liberties.

The writer went out to the streets to interview Obama's roommates, former girlfriends, and other people who knew him.

“Barry” has some technical issues, but it is worth viewing.

The editing is uneven. The transitions are neither smooth nor artistic. A film based on the life of a U.S. President deserves a more formal and symbolic film.

The story focuses on the fun times rather than in the ideological influences that shaped the leader's personality. 

The lack of meaning in this independent feature makes us think “The Lion King” is more politically correct than this Obama's biopic.
Copyrights Netflix
Australian actor Devon Terrell plays exceptionally well young Barack Obama. Terrell is charismatic and charming. Yet, his character of a confused teenager trying to find himself and a congruent ideology is soft on the page.

Barry's mother (Ashley Judd) places the sentimental note by saying, "The world is a big place; you will find your way. 

The film has some essential and stimulating cultural references, such as “Black Orpheus," an Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film. Also, there is an allusion to several other books such as “The Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison and “Dreams from my Father,” written by Barak Obama himself.

Other great movies showing the richness of the Afro-American experience this year are “Hidden Figures,” “Loving,” “Fences,” “Moonlight,” and “Kicks.”

In “Barry,” we meet a young man in need of finding himself to fulfill his destiny. It doesn't have any kind of sentimentalism or nostalgia. It is more about those fun moments that make life go by smoothly. 

After all, life is a beautiful struggle.