Questions for an Independent (woman) Filmmaker

I’ve had several people come up to me and ask me how I’ve managed to write, direct, produce and release two short documentaries, one feature length documentary and the pilot episode for a docu-series – all without funding.

Also, people wonder if I just pretend to not have any money and continue to work and magically produce funding for each film. So, with these wonders (or questions) and others I’ve yet to mention I’m making my first entry in a while to clarify a few things; both professionally and personally. So, here we go!

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Q: How do you make your films?  

For the past few years I’ve been making my films with a Canon DSLR Rebel T3i Camera, a Panasonic audio recorder and editing footage with Sony software. The camera I’ve used it since my days as a journalist and has never failed me – well, once, because it was under the sun for too long and it over heated. But after a few days to recover it went back to working just fine. I don’t have much money to spend on making films – so I turn to technology a lot as well as try to get in touch with people at the placed I can afford to travel to. While many people may find it a bit difficult to see past the low to “sugar-string budget” of my documentaries – I hope they can see the message and story I’m trying to tell with each one of my films.

In essence, to make one of my films it’s about $1,000 on average with the resources I currently have. I try to extend each and every dollar, so I do most of the work myself. I direct, I manage camera(s), I edit, I use a free online music database under a creative commons license – I distribute, send out press releases and submit to film festivals all on my own. This takes a lot of work, but the even a single positive comment on a film is more than enough compensation for all the hard work I’ve put into one particular project. Also, the internet is a wonderful platform to distribute films, and it’s free.

Q: If you don’t have any money to keep on making films, what keeps you motivated?

Let’s face it, not everyone is made for this. While I don’t have the finances right now, I have to say that my determination and my passion for making films is what drives me; it keeps me motivated to continue with being a story teller. Why? Because while, it is somewhat about me and attaining my dreams, it’s also NOT ABOUT ME, but about the stories I tell, the people in it and the characters that represent people who have gone through hard times. My passion for making film is way bigger than the whole in my pocket. Because of this, if I feel a topic needs to be discussed or addressed in film, I’ll find a way to make that happen. Also, knowing that this process is what would be considered a “marathon” and not a “sprint” it gives me the patience to continue working slowly and surely on achieving short and long-term goals.

Q: You seem to lead the perfect life, how do you stay so positive all the time?

I don’t lead a perfect life – my life is quite complicated, the thing is I like to keep things very private…and I’m not always positive. Truth is I struggle with depression and I’m under constant stress over taking care of my father. Yes, I get to go to the beach whenever I want, but I don’t always have the time. Yes I live in a tropical island, but that doesn’t mean eternal happiness. Yes I smile all the time, but that doesn’t mean that I’m always happy. The way I deal with it all is: meditation. I have to take at least 2 hours to myself to work out and meditate right after. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be struggling with depression, the depression would take over completely and I’d be paralyzed with pain and despair. Like I mentioned before, my determination to keep moving forward and accomplish my dreams is very big – bigger than my depression and my wallet.

Q: How do you balance all your responsibilities with work?

Simple: Scheduling – there is a time and place for everything and I heavily rely on scheduling and sticking to time frames. I also have to accept days as they come.  There are days that nothing can be done about anything….where stagnation is the theme of the day. Instead of fighting the fact that I can’t accomplish a particular daily goal or get something done that dayI just go with the flow and let things take their course. If I fight, that only adds to the stress and I have enough of that already. Meditation helps so much with keeping me mentally balanced and stable and throughout the day I meditate for a few minutes if I need to. Just take a moment to breathe, acknowledge thoughts and move along. Also, having pets and spending time with them and basking in their pure unconditional love helps plenty.

Q: Are you in a relationship? Aren’t you afraid of intimidating men with your independence, intelligence and self sufficiency?

I am currently single…and NO. While so many people have advised me to tone down my “strong” characteristics, but, I’ve found that the person who is right for me will not care about my sense of independence since I’ve had to do so much for myself for so long. They’d understand me, support me and encourage me, just like I’d do for them. The key is to find a person to care and show they care in the little ways – because it’s the little things that count. So, no, I’m not afraid of intimidating anyone with any bits of my personality. Just the same way they shouldn’t feel afraid to intimidate me with any bit of theirs. If that happens, then they’re not the right one for me – or I for them.

Q: How far do you plan to ride this “filmmaking train”?

For the rest of my life and into the Oscars, BAFTA’s, Cannes, Golden Globes…and all the awards before that…

Q: How does your own experience influence in your writing and film ideas?

It influences plenty. There are many things I’ve gone through that can be found in my writing and things I’ve seen firsthand that influence the topic of documentaries I make – I have a few screenplays that have tidbits of my life, but people won’t know what they are unless they know me personally – it’s fun!

If you have any questions for me, you can send it to me via email (see side bar) or just add them to the comment section!

To stay up to date with the films I make and upcoming series subscribe to my YouTube Channel and be sure to watch Forever Boogies and Salt Water!

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Festival Update

Hello again!

As I mentioned in previous posts, I have submitted Forced into Silence to several film festivals and it is currently being considered in about 5 of the 11 I originally sent it to. The evening before yesterday I get an email from IndustryBOOST telling me that the documentary has been selected to be a part of the competition as well as a finalist for the grand prize!!!

Still, the way the competition works is that I need people to vote and comment on it and if you can do that for me, after watching the film (you have to create a profile on IndieWise – which is free btw) if you can vote, comment, and share with your personal networks I would greatly appreciate it!

Thank you so much in advance, here are the pertinent links to do all the awesome supporting I’m sure you’ll do for this film:

IndustryBOOST Competition on IndieWise: https://getindiewise.com/5jwqmwARBQK

November Update

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Salt Water will be undergoing more edits

With all of what’s happened during the past few weeks it’s been difficult to keep myself together with my work, but here are a few things that’s happening or that are scheduled to happen this month.

  1. I moved to a new location – we’ve known that I’ve been looking for a new place to settle down and I’ve finally found one that I’m incredibly happy with.
  2. While I haven’t had much time to sit down and work, the few moments, hours I’ve had to do so I’ve realized that I’m not happy with the final cut of Salt Water and will be working on the edits once more. Once I’m incredibly happy and super satisfied with it, I’ll release it (thank God I didn’t release it already!) and submit it to film festivals, and later on upload it to my YouTube Channel.
  3. I’ve started to think of the perfect way to edit the pilot for the Silent no More docu-series. I do need a bit more footage, and do some additional recording myself – then it’s going to be perfect.
  4. There’s an upcoming surfing event (the Saturday after thanksgiving) and I’ll be covering that for the No Boundaries X Magazine – a publication that focuses on extreme sports and healthy lifestyle here in Puerto Rico.

What’s going on with the Film Festivals?

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Forced into Silence is still competing at Film Festivals! 

So, I’ve been waiting to hear from the 11 festivals I’ve submitted Forced into Silence to and while I’ve been accepted to one – and voted to win the Best Documentary award for that festival, there are other festivals that the film is still “in consideration” and others that have already rejected it. Why? Well, I don’t know, since they don’t give explanation for their decisions. I’m thinking it could be anywhere from the fact that I used Google Hangouts (because of budget restrictions) to make most of the film happen or the topic of choice of the film – again, I don’t know. However, I’m still hopeful that it makes the cut for those other festivals it’s still in consideration for. I also keep on getting invitations to submit to festivals. It’s all confusing and exciting, so I’ll keep you guys posted on that as I am informed of decisions, invites and more.

Political postings and rants

It’s been a tough couple of few weeks for me and my fellow liberals – and although I’ve never made a posting about politics, the results of an election, but I felt that this was more personal than any other election. I’ve been accused to be part of the snowflakes that are too delicate to deal with a real Presidential candidate by those in the alt-right – to which I say: “I’m too progressive to regress to segregation, religious registration and prevent a possible genocide of any kind” therefore I made a post about how I felt the political outcomes of both countries I’m directly involved with affected me personally.

Moving forward…

20160802_163946I’m putting together a group of amazing people in order to launch a podcast for those who need to hear about how to take on challenges in this world. So many people come up to me and confess to me their admiration for how I deal with issues in my life and ask for advice and that has inspired me to make a podcast to give people a new perspective as to how to see and deal with issues in their lives. I’m often told that I put things in a viewpoint that perhaps they would have never thought of – and maybe the podcast will enable me to help people that aren’t just my friends. Right now it’s an idea, so it’s going to be a while before I get that off the ground and running – still, stay tuned!

And since it’s November, happy holidays to everyone out there!

October Update

There is so much to tell about these past few months!

Let’s start with the most exciting; after working on a film for so long it was selected to be a part of its first festival, which did well because the overall rating for the snippet shared on Get Indie Wise came up to a 9.2 on their 10 score scale. I’m really excited that people want to see this documentary and voted for it. It’s truly heartwarming, humbling and overwhelming to see that while some producers might not see the value of a story, the audience does and that’s what really matters to me – to any filmmaker I know really.

Furthermore, I began filming on the docu-series Silent No More in the first episode I speak to James Landrith, who has made incredible things as a speaker and writer about that one horrific time a woman raped him. His declarations are compelling and I can’t wait for you to hear him. I also include an interview with William Murray, a theology student who is focusing his thesis on criminal behavior and how we, as a society, can change the way we educate ourselves when it comes to aggression, sexuality and religion – all of which are the three main causes of harassment and/or crime in my opinion. It’s going to be a real treat for you to see the series. The goal is to really explore the topics I mention in Forced into Silence, which because of time restrictions couldn’t really go into it – because that would have made a 10 hour film….and no one wants to sit through something like that…also that’s what series are for!

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In other (short) film news, I began….and completed shooting Ocean Therapy and changed the films name to Salt Water (<<< click to see the preview) – I thought the latter had more “oomph” and would be more poetic and direct at the same time.  Salt Water is the second installment of the environmentally themed trilogy of short documentaries that began with Forever Boogies. The short runs about 33 minutes long and features interviews and snippets of the work done by two of the most amazing people I know. Yesael Rivera and Lisandra Baez are setting out to change the world they live in and by working with children with Autism and Down Syndrome through their free clinics/lessons of body boarding, stand up paddle boarding (SUP) and skateboarding.

Baez, a former physical education teacher and athletic director in Dorado was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2009. Still, she competes in may SUP events, recently winning first place in women’s division in Rincón.  Rivera, a former Olympic qualifying and Central Olympic swimmer, is coming up with some amazing proposals for coastal safety as he co-directs an innovative non-profit in the North-Central area of the island. It’s a great film filled with anecdotes, positivity, inspiration and how the ocean is providing so much for people who find themselves with so little.

In other news, I have come to work with a fun magazine called No Boundaries X Magazine; it’s a new local publication that focuses on extreme sporting, athletic development and the promotion of a healthy lifestyle and environment. It’s a lot of work, but it’s enjoyable.

I have to admit, being the managing editor and social media manager for the magazine, as well as a filmmaker, caregiver and business woman…it’s satisfying, but also a lot of responsibility and at times a bit overwhelming. Wherein comes scheduling in order for me to make everything I need to make happen…well, happen. I like working at the magazine because I get to see how people are improving their lives through their efforts, and their passions are contagious.

Although I work incredibly hard, I make sure to take time for myself. To recharge, to disconnect from all the things that, while amazing, they can be stressful – so I go out to the beach and ride some waves, or take a dip or two after I cover a coastal event. This is part of making sure I don’t lose my mind, or how I usually say it ‘lose my shit’ – I have so much to do and I’ve been neglecting other things (like making diaper bags for one of my best friends and her husband because they just had her first child) – but that’s okay, because I still have time to make these things. I just have to make it fit my schedule (hahaha).

Also, if you follow me regularly, you might have noticed I took out the Patreon page for donations. Why? Well, because no one was pledging and it was annoying me – so I took it out after closing the account. I understand the economy is bad, and that’s okay.

25 Films that have inspired me (2nd Edition)

Welcome to the second edition of the films that have inspired me in some way or other to keep working, living, and strive to be myself – the list comprises of both new and old films and a brief explanation as to why they are so special to me.

  1. Eddie the Eagle (Starring: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman) – Egerton does a fantastic job as the titular character, whose ambitions in becoming an Olympian since childhood are quite contagious and inspiring. Born with a disability, and poor eyesight, Eddie Edwards gets his ambition fueled by magazines, posters and television spots that showcase athletes competing – and from only one person in his life: his mum. Throughout the movie this Eddie has been stonewalled, ruled out, booted out and mocked for wanting to be the person he knows he should be – did all these negative situations stop him? No. He pushed forward and made history and broke records. More of us underdogs should be like Eddie the Eagle, soaring through the sky with our accomplishments even if everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) is standing against us telling us we cannot become the person we know in our hearts we are meant to be.
  2. Hello, My name is Doris (Starring: Sally Field, Max Greenfield) – while the IMDb description of this film is “a self help seminar inspires sixty-something woman to romantically pursue her younger co-worker” Doris is much more than that. Field is the titular character and portrays her to perfection. After losing her mother (whom she spent all her life taking care of) Doris is struggling to find her footing in the world. While she becomes enamored by the younger, and very good looking new co-worker (Greenfield) she’s thrust into the dwellings of young people and how we manage to live our lives in “retro” and modernity, while trying to balance her old friendships and new ones. I smiled through the entire movie and laughed out loud through many other parts of it and cried at others. Anyone who is a caregiver of a parent, a young person who is trying to figure out who they are – or a human in general can relate to different aspects of this movie. It’s beautiful, it’s sweet, it’s daring and there’s an awesome sexy scene involving Field and Greenfield that everyone must see.
  3. Far from the Madding Crowd (Starring: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen) – Mulligan stars in this period film as Bathsheba Everdene, the headstrong and very independent woman who inherits a huge piece of land that is home acres and acres of oak. The film is beautifully shot, the characters are well developed and engaging and there is an independent woman who has made a point of not marrying anyone for the sake of marriage or protection. At some point Everdene says “I have a house, I have land, I have no need for a husband” during the Victorian times that was a radical statement – something that many women feel today, and to see that in a period character (albeit a fictional one) is still inspiring. As the story goes on, we see who she really loves and who she ends up choosing as the perfect man for her and as a business partner.
  4. The Wave or Bølgen (Starring: Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp, Jonas Hoff Oftebro) – Set in the Norwegian Fjords, this movie is far from the Hollywood productions of what a natural disaster would look like if it came to happen. Still, the effects, the science and the people make it compelling and amazing to watch. Joner plays geologist Kristian Eikjord who figures out the mountain that houses hundreds of people is shifting and tries his best to warn others. Thinking it’s practically impossible for what he predicts will happen, will actually come to pass – they ignore him (typical) but that doesn’t stop him from trying to help them, and to save his family from the effects of the tsunami that will surely pass when the mountain collapses. The performances are great, the actors humanize these characters in a way that Hollywood could never do (i.e. San Andreas was flat with the character performances, 2012 fell short in that aspect as well) which is making strong and relatable characters that the audience can relate to in those circumstances. Not just the “OMG the world is going to end” and add tons of CGI to the film….
  5. Chasing Mavericks (Starring: Jonny Weston, Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue) – as a person who cannot live too far from the ocean, this movie touched me in many ways. The story of Jay Moriarty and his ambition to ride the biggest waves – Mavericks – is moving, endearing, and inspiring. Weston’s portrayal of a young(er) Moriarty is clean, crisp and full of that naiveté that is needed in an actor that is playing a real life character that had that natural ambition and passion for life, for knowledge and especially surfing. Moriarty lived his life with a deep love of the ocean, for his family and for his girl. Although living in a one bedroom apartment off the coast of Santa Cruz, California – he went on to accomplish many things in his short life. A good example that nothing should stand in the way of you achieving your dreams.
  6. Brooklyn (Starring: Soairse Ronan, Emory Cohen, Domhall Gleeson) – Ronan stars in this period romantic drama as Eillis, a young Irish girl who reluctantly leaves her home town and family behind for a new life in Brooklyn, New York. Eillis’ experiences in New York reminded me of mine in great part. Only I didn’t have a boarding house, or a priest, or a job waiting for me when I moved to New York at 17, I related to her incredible homesickness and how hard it was to integrate into a place where there are so many people, and everything is so different. I have to make a note that Emory Cohen’s portrayal of Tony is absolutely adorable and made me fall in love with him.
  7. The Danish Girl (Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Alicia Vikander) – What was it like for the first transgender woman? How did she know she was transgender? This film really shows the struggles of accomplished painter Einar Wegener into becoming Lili Elbe. The love he lost while becoming a she, the loved she gained by exploring her true herself. The love that endured between a marriage as time and one of them changed drastically. Eddie’s performance was so moving, I fell in love with both is Einar and Lili, the struggles in the eyes that only a great actor like he can convey and Alicia was amazing as well. As she interpreted the broken hearted, yet supportive Gerda it reminded me of many people I’ve known throughout my life. This film is about love, about self discovery and about friendship – all of the things that encompass what life is truly about.
  8. 200 Cartas (Starring: Lin Manuel Miranda, Jaime Camil, Dayanara Torres) – Miranda portrays Raul, a Young Newyorican who meets a Puerto Rican who is visiting NYC – he falls in love in that first and only meeting and sets off in an adventure to return to her a necklace she dropped in the club they met. Since he doesn’t have her number, he searches the phone book and ends up finding 200 women with her name (Maria Sanchez) so ends up sending each and every one of them a letter (hence the title of the film) what comes after is a crazy adventure and comedy that showcases the beauty and troubles in the island and the evolution of a man from being “smitten” by a beautiful girl he met once, to being actually in love with a woman who helps him in his journey.
  9. For Keeps? (Starring: Molly Ringwald, Randall Batinkoff) – let’s face it, if you’re over 25 years old, chances are that you’ve seen many a Molly Ringwald film while growing up. This film in particular was a departure of her previous work as the sweet girl next door. This was the first movie I saw that focused on a teenage mother and father. Both characters are struggling to make ends meet, struggling through post partum depression and struggling to evolve from young love to adult love. This was an incredible movie for me to see as a young person. The possibilities of unprotected sex, young parenting and everything that our sexual education (still) doesn’t cover.
  10. Sixteen Candles or 16 Candles (Starring: Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, Michael Schoeffling) – John Hughes made some iconic films in the 1980’s, most of them staring Ringwald, and this has to be mentioned in my list. Why? Because for most of my life I felt like Ringwald’s Sam felt on her sixteenth birthday, forgotten for a larger event. Sixteen Candles is a crazy comedy that involves some crazy racists scenarios, but fun in many other aspects. It gives hope to the girls like me, who used to be mostly quiet and crushing on the popular guy. We can all get a guy like Jake to pick us up in his sports car with a birthday cake just for us.
  11. The Iron Giant (Animated – Starring: Eli Marienthal, Harry Connick Jr., Jennifer Aniston, Vin Diesel) This animated film was different than anything I’d ever seen before. A war machine falls from the sky, suffers amnesia and befriends a local kid with a weird name (Hogarth). He’s entirely repurposed, basically saying “just because you were a bad person in your past, doesn’t mean you have to always be a bad person” Every time I watch this film I cry, and smile, and laugh out loud – it’s fun, it’s classic and inspiring.
  12. Wild (Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Laura Dern) – Who doesn’t want to leave their current pain behind by going on a long ass hike? Or sailing across the ocean, or driving cross country? I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want to do any of these things at some point in their lives. I also, still haven’t met anyone who ACTUALLY has done it – so to see a film that is based on real events of a woman who hiked 1, 100 miles down the Pacific Coast Trail to get over losing her mother was inspiring. The cinematography is exquisite and the contrast of what she’s leaving behind to what she’s moving towards works perfectly. Made me want to start planning my own PCT hike (which I have, with an Amazon wish list and all).
  13. Pelo Malo (Samuel Lange Zambrano, Samantha Castillo, Beto Benites) – Zambrano plays Junior, a nine year old boy who is obsessed with straightening his thick curly hair, this obsession leads him conditioning his hair with mayonnaise and combing it excessively. His mother Marta (Castillo), thinks that all this obsession with his hair and dancing and singing might mean that he’s gay. As the film progresses, we see many inappropriate things happen, as well as painful things that many a young artist has experienced in their lives. This film has motivated me to not be as close minded as Marta, or imposing as Junior’s grandmother Carmen (brilliantly played by Nelly Ramos).
  14. Mermaids (Starring: Cher, Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder, Christina Ricci) – As a child, I was very similar to Ricci’s character Kate Flax in this movie. Always wanting to be in the water, but never cleaning my rocks, or timing my ability to hold my breath in the bathtub (we never had a bathtub, I always left sea rocks where they belonged). Then there was the quirky Charlotte, who was obsessed with Catholicism (and later on Greek Mythology) and reminded me of the year of my life I wanted to be a nun. Then we had the sexy Mrs. Flax, single mother, secure in her own skin and a woman who gives no fucks. Like none…at all. After suffering a heartbreak she relocates herself and her girls to a small town in Massachusetts where so many things happen, when the family seems to break apart, it only gets stronger. I love this film because of all the elements I can relate to: family, obsession with swimming, religion, love (romantic and otherwise) and struggling family to find their own footing.
  15. Como agua para chocolate (Lumi Cavazos, Marco Leonardi, Regina Torné) – I didn’t know the connection of food and sexuality until I saw this film. I had read the book before I saw the film, and was pleased to see that many of the literary aspects were put, exactly as I imagined it, on film. The casting is great, and if anyone deserved a nomination or an award of their portrayal of an unwavering torturous bitch of a mother was Torné. Her Mamá Elena is like the worst mother ever. Denying her younger daughter love, marriage and children for the sake of tradition is unthinkable. The film itself is beautiful, the characters are lovely (Gertrude being my favorite) and the story itself, while tragic has its romanticism. Also, the dishes are really great looking and how the people react to them creates curiosity if it does actually happen in real life.
  16. One night with the King (Starring: Tiffany Dupont, Luke Goss, John Noble) – I’m not really crazy on biblical stories, but this movie has stayed with me since I first saw it. Hadassah (Dupont) has to hide her Jewish identity and customs in order to stay alive, changing her name to Esther (with the excuse that it doesn’t sound so Jewish – which is like very “lol” now) she becomes Esther Queen of Persia, and risks her life to save her people from genocide. Why do I like this film? When you look at the cinematography it would seem like a low budget film – but that never matters when there’s a strong story. A young girl thrust into a destiny she never imagined, she has to have faith to keep going – decide to be safe or to risk her own life for that of others. A King (Xerxes) historically known for his barbaric nature, to be seen in a vulnerable way, to be seen as a man, who is in love with a woman and doesn’t want to make her unhappy – changing his ways. The faith of something bigger than them, bigger than everything, most importantly bigger than the looming evil towards the Jewish people is nothing to be ignored.
  17. Austenland (Starring: Keri Russell, JJ Feild, Jennifer Coolidge) – as a Jane Austen Fan I really wish this place actually existed! Austenland is filled with laughs, ridiculous performances and of course, romance. Jane Hayes (Russell) blows her savings to go on a trip to this fictitious theme park and live like Jane Austen’s character. Each travel package has a different character and romantic story to it so it’s great to see Austen’s entire characters take place in one setting, even if it’s absolutely ridiculous. My favorite scene is when Jane is prompted to play the piano – I snort-laughed at it and it’s such a great scene that there is an extended version of it in the final credits. Also Jane’s chemistry with Mr. Nobley (JJ Feild) is palpable. Just shows you that one can have a great time when you blow your savings on something deemed as insignificant to others.
  18. Maria full of Grace (Starring: Catalina Sandino Moreno, Guilied Lopez, Orlando Tobón) – What are you willing to do for a better life? Many Central and Latin Americans resort to the actions of María Álvarez, smuggling drugs to the US and then staying in the mainland to better their lives and that of their children and families. This film was particularly moving, because it really showed the dark side of being a mule. The dehumanization of those who choose to swallow the drugs, and the troubles they have to deal with later on. Why did I like this film? María was head strong, determined to move forward with her life at any cost – even if she risked her own life while trying to make a better one.
  19. Contracorriente or Undertow (Starring: Cristian Mercado, Tatiana Astengo, Manolo Cardona) – This film is supposed to be about a gay man who is torn by his tradition. I truly believe it’s about a bisexual man who finds love in both sexes, but is pressured to be straight, when he loves a man deeper than what he loves his wife. Mercado plays Peruvian fisherman Miguel, a family man who meets outsider Santiago (Cardona) a photographer who settles in the beautiful coast and as their relationship progresses, their love blossoms. But then tragedy strikes and Santiago is ends up dead and haunting Miguel. What happens in this film is hauntingly beautiful. The love people have for one another should not be denied – for any reason, because it will haunt you some day.
  20. Goya’s Ghosts (Starring: Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård) – while I would have preferred for the cast to be entirely Spaniard, I guess that’s never going to happen in a Hollywood production. Still, this film is good. Want to know about the Spanish Inquisition? This will give you a good idea. Want to see what happens when you’re devout to a religion that has imprisoned you, tortured you and kept you locked up for 15 years? Watch this movie. Want to know how a painter influenced the masses on what the Church was doing behind closed doors to the people? Watch this film.
  21. The Fundamentals of Caring (Starring: Craig Roberts, Paul Rudd, Selena Gomez) – Trevor (Roberts) is a paraplegic young man whose mother hires Ben (Rudd) to be his caregiver. Trevor likes to play mean jokes, he likes consistency and he’s incredibly sarcastic. A shell he’s been building ever since his father walked away from being responsible for him in his current state. What Trevor doesn’t expect is Ben, who picks up on his behavior and gives it back. The result is a great film where Rudd shines in his comedic and dramatic skills, and Roberts acting is pristine. I don’t comment so much of Gomez’ character since the film can do without her really, but I love this film. It’s heartwarming, and lets us know that friendship can be found in unexpected places.
  22. No se aceptan devoluciones or Instructions not included (Starring: Eugenio Derbez, Karla Souza, Jessica Lindsey) – I honestly didn’t think this film was going to be any good based on the trailer – which was really shoddy in my opinion. A womanizer has to turn his life around because he gets his daughter dumped on him. I mean, really? But one day I saw it on cable and fell in love with the deeper meaning of this film. A father who changes his life around to ensure his daughter has the best life she can, for as long as she can. It’s tragic, it’s sweet, it’s heartbreaking and heartwarming, and funny in some cases.
  23. Beasts of No Nation (Starring: Abraham Attah, Emmanuel Affadzi, Idris Elba) – I’ve always been against child soldiering. Every chance I get I watch a film that depicts the perils of young boys recruited and forced to be soldiers – losing their innocence, their childhood and subsequently the positivity of what life can be. This film was so jarring to see. Boys as young as eight years old carrying AK47’s and other high powered guns and rifles. Boys being forced to fight for a cause they can’t even comprehend entirely. Boys being violated in so many different ways. Boys not being able to be boys – innocent and free. Attah’s performance as Agu is memorable, he’s so good at depicting the pain and confusion, and Affadzi’s Dike is incredible at portraying pain, and anger. What impacted me most was Elba’s Commandant – his ruthlessness, his cruelty, and the ease as to which he does all the horrible things he does – still it didn’t kill Agu’s spirit and that to me was the most important thing of all.
  24. Superstar (Starring: Molly Shannon, Will Ferrell) – let’s face it; we all had that time during our childhood that we wanted to be superstars in some form. This endearing film about young Mary Katherine Gallagher (Shannon) and her desire to be a superstar dancer like her parents (who died while dancing to a crazy fast song) and her grandmother’s desire to protect her from the dangers of dancing hits home for creatives. While not as drastic, we have parents or parental figures who want to protect us from the possibility of the crippling failure and criticism. I mean, we don’t go around making out with trees, or smelling our fingers after they’ve been stuck in our sweaty armpits because that’s what we do when we’re really really nervous, but we all have our quirks, and this movie is just fun to watch and to see how Mary Katherine Gallager finds her perfect dance partner and becomes a S.U.P.E.R.S.T.A.R!
  25. Penelope (Starring Christina Ricci, James McAvoy) – I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for any movie that has either Ricci or McAvoy…but BOTH? It’s like movie heaven. This sweet movie is a romantic comedy about a family that is cursed – particularly the first born female child of that family after the curse, to have a pig snout for a nose and be so hideous and frightening not even her parents will love her – ironically, the way to break the spell is with the love of a person of noble blood. Penelope (Ricci) hides away from society by force, her parents, well, really it’s her mother – want to hide her from people until the spell is broken. Enter Johnny , who after a barrage of suitors presented is the only one who stays after Penelope reveals herself to them (most of them throwing themselves out windows and breaking down doors to escape her, which really I don’t know why, because Ricci, even with a pig snout is freaking adorable – also let’s make a note that he didn’t see her because he was busy doing something else) but they build a strong bond through conversations about music, books, and playing chess – which she does through a double sided mirror. In the end (spoiler alert) she breaks the spell herself because she finds herself loving who she is and what she looks like and McAvoy is just the most precious, sexy and passionate cherry on top of the cake.