THE LATINX HOUSE @ SUNDANCE, Day 3 Recap - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Wednesday, January 29, 2020


Photo Credits: Getty Images/Mat Hayward 


Wilmer Valderrama, Jaden Smith, Diane Guerrero, Darren Aronofsky, Daniel Dae-Kim, Luis A. Miranda Jr., Joaquin Castro, and more

The Latinx House is an initiative - co-founded by Mónica Ramírez, Olga Segura, Alex Martinez Kondracke - aimed at creating gathering spaces to celebrate the best in Latinx culture and bring important societal issues to the forefront. It is also the first Latinx initiative to become an official Sundance Institute associate partner and is serving as the home for the Latinx community and their allies in the heart of downtown Park City from January 24 - 26, 2020.

PANEL: Latinx Unity

Photo Credits
: Getty Images/Mat Hayward 

Actor and entrepreneur Wilmer Valderrama; YouTuber Paula Galindo; Endeavor Content partner Alexis Garcia; co-founder of The Latinx House and filmmaker Alex Martinez Kondracke; filmmaker Frisly Soberanis; and filmmaker Alex Rivera 
discussed “New Platforms and Possibilities for Content Creation within the Latinx Community,” highlighting how the use of non-traditional platforms can spark community building. 

The event included special remarks by Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro and director of 2020 Sundance U.S. Dramatic Competition selection CHARM CITY KINGS Angel Manuel Soto. Presented by Hispanics in Philanthropy and YouTube.


On Diversity and Portrayal in the Industry:

Congressman Joaquin Castro: “In 1973 Marlon Brando had rejected his Academy Award for lead in Godfather, due to the treatment of Native Americans in Hollywood. He talked about the impact on Native American children seeing themselves always as bad guys in western films… I would say we have the same issue for Latinos in the media. We are taking on this issue head first in Washington, we want to change the numbers and diversity, but we also want to change the portrayal. We have a president or politician that says that Latinos are rapists or murderers, then people see that represented on tv/film. There is a cost for all of us when that happens. This is not to say that Hollywood is to blame, but they can help shift the way we are seen.”

On new/non-traditional  platforms:

Alex Kondracke: “With YouTube and being able to monetize content now you have numbers to show your audience, show IP and can that can then take your projects to other platforms as well.”

Wilmer Valderrama: “It’s interesting, I think the first alternate type of platform for me was MTV. I started seeing how the content started skewing a certain way for their young demo, and then went a different way and I didn’t see myself anywhere. I partnered with Ashton to create Yo Mamma, and no matter how silly my first creation was - it was my first pitch: “It’s like 8 Mile with Yo Mamma Jokes” - I realized this is how you hack the system and put faces of those who weren’t being represented on the platform.” 

Working in the traditional system is bittersweet because in the beginning you just want to get hired and do what you love, but in the last decade I’ve started to see that with platforms like YouTube help make strides in creating all types of content.”

Paula Galindo: “I started 7-8 years ago, and didn’t really know you could get money from YouTube and I didn’t start doing it for fame or money. I’ve always just loved beauty and makeup, saw these other girls doing their tutorials and I thought I could do that too, and so I started taping myself doing my thing, and I started getting messages from viewers saying they liked my content and gave me suggestions of other topics I could cover and I started engaging with my audience, now years later I now have the biggest beauty channel in Latin America ... My goal now is to motivate women, especially Latinas, to dream big!”

Alex Rivera: “I want to do visionary genre work that’s connected to the social realities our community faces … The ranks of executives have changed thanks to our brothers and sisters [the vision of Jordan Peele with Get Out and all of Ava DuVernay’s work] and now there’s a real business model for these kinds of genre led work.” 

Friesly Soberanis: “We are trying to explore a way for immigrants to have a sort of “reunion” with their families back in their home countries via VR. The VR world is still basically brand new, so we are still exploring the best way to go about it.” 

On Current Immigration Topics in Film:

Wilmer Valderrama: “I’m always pitched immigration stories, and although it’s exciting to see there is an abundance about it, right now more than ever  it is critical to be very aware and careful of which stories we are putting out there. We should not be forcing our opinions, we should be having a conversation because only then can we affect change. That is why I said yes to making Blast Beat, the film that brought me to Sundance this year.” 

PANEL: The Future of Work and Film as a Catalyst for Change

A session hosted by the Ford Foundation with national domestic worker leader June Barrett,  Mexican domestic worker leader Marcelina BautistaParticipant’s Holly Gordon, and the Ford Foundation’s Sarita Gupta emphasized the potential of film as one of the important tactics for addressing worker rights’ issues, particularly for low-paid workers.


On the Worker Movement and Labor Issues in Film: 

Sarita Gupta: “How can we not be taking care of our caretakers?” 

Holly Gordon: “The art comes first whether it’s Roma or American Factory or any one of the other films we’ve made. A larger part of our films is to hold institutions that govern our lives accountable. “

“Artists see these kinds of injustices, and journalists do the same. The goal is to hold institutions accountable - if we trust them to govern everything around us, they must do it with humanity.” 

On the Impact of Roma:

Marcelina Bautista: “Roma impacted me tremendously, as a domestic worker since the age of 14. We have been working in Mexico to be able to fight for our dignity and rights. Trying to move this movement together has been quite a challenge. The laws have marginalized and exploited us for over 20 years, and I’ve been working to change this ever since.”

Jane Barrett: “I cried throughout the whole film, because Cleo’s story was my story. I saw the movie and it rocked me to the core - it was literally my life. I didn’t realize that this movie would take us [National Domestic Workers] to Hollywood.”

On Content for Social Change:

Holly Gordon: “This vast visibility of a film publicity campaign creates pressure on our public leaders to accelerate the rights and laws protecting workers. 

Sarita Gupta: “Roma opened the consciousness of the employers to think differently and change that mindset in Mexico.”

PANEL: Building Latinx Unity Through Film

Activist powerhouse Luis A. Miranda Jr. and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chair Joaquin Castro join co-founder of The Latinx House Mónica Ramírez to speak about the potential that exists behind films when they are representative of true Latinx experiences—especially as advocates fight for stronger protections and policies for the Latinx Community.


On the Latinx Community’s Collective Pain: 

Joaquin Castro: “Content, through whatever media, can be very comforting, kind, and useful in uniting us. The president has made the Latino community his punching bag. The immigrant has been demonized in particular. The work you’re doing here - both inside and outside the industry - in uplifting Latino voices are very powerful.” 

“Our stories are not allowed to be told in ways that are nuanced, it's very superficial. We have an opp to go way beyond that and help people in these difficult times”

On Human Portrayals of Latinos in the Media: 

Luis A. Miranda Jr: “My son, when we started writing In the Heights, we grew up with Broadway being a cultural staple in our house. The two main musicals with a focus on Puerto Ricans  - West Side Story and The Capeman - portray gangsters. With In the Heights, he wanted to tell the stories of normal everyday people.”

“We are not the monsters that this imbecile [President Trump] portrays us to be.” 

On Immigrant Narratives and Experiences:

Joaquin Castro: “We’re often in a situation where our own kids don't know our histories. We don't know our own histories or the histories and movements of other members of the Latino communities.”

Luis A. Miranda Jr: “Film and TV can really help communicate these stories. I came to this country as a migrant (being a U.S. citizen) but had the experience of an immigrant because no one cares to ask about your story.”

How to Drive Social Change: 

Joaquin Castro: “There’s a cost that all of us bear - there’s a perception that Americans have of who we are and it’s not accurate and it’s not fair and the way we change that is through entertainment.”

Luis A. Miranda Jr:  “On the one hand, it’s a great way for corporate America to get involved and help us. The Latinx House provides the opportunity for us to gather and for others to support us and our voices.”

PANEL: The Latinx List: Providing a Platform for Latinx Writers

The Black List’s Franklin Leonard joined Sundance Institute’s Screenwriters Lab Fellow Danya Jimenez, (who is on The Latinx List) to discuss efforts underway to diversify all aspects of the industry, and the potential that exists when writers of diverse backgrounds are provided a platform to share their work.


On Applying to the Sundance Lab:

Danya Jimenez: “I actually applied to it on my birthday. We wrote the script in 5 days and then pitched it to someone beat by beat, then never looked at it again. Then we wanted to submit to Sundance with no time to do so we just stayed up 72 hours to finish it and submit. Getting all these notes from advisors was very helpful and an amazing experience to be able to fully finish our script.”

On Being in the Writer’s Room for a Television Program:

Danya Jimenez: “It’s really great to explore other people’s opinions and lives.”

On Being Part of The Black List Lab:

Danya Jimenez: “We would not be here without The Black List Lab. I don’t even think we would be writers without it. We were with women who were really mentoring us all the time .. it was a very inspiring experience. Some of the girls and I got together and wrote a hypothetical second season to Big Little Lies which I had never done or really even explored to get the writing juices flowing.”

Franklin Leonard [to Danya]:“The Black List isn’t the reason why you are having success, your writing is the reason why you are having success - it’s your talent.” 

PANEL: LGBTQ Representation: Advocating for Greater Visibility in Hollywood

The Wrap’s Sharon Waxman hosted a conversation alongside SCAD’s Dean of the School of Entertainment Arts Andra Reeve-Raab about empowering LGBTQ voices in Hollywood. Patricia Vidal Delgado (Sundance NEXT selection “La Leyenda Negra”) and Frankie Rodriguez (Disney’s “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series”), GLAAD’s Jeremy Blacklowactor Harvey Guillén joined the discussion. 


On the State of LGTQ Visibility in Entertainment:

Jeremy Blacklow: “I think we are in a new era, I can’t keep up with all the LGBTQ content. We are at 10.2% of LGBTQ characters now which surpassed our goal at GLAAD [10%]. We need to start empowering the more marginalized voices in our community, for me that’s the next step.”

Frankie Rodriguez:  “There wasn’t much I could look up to that was like me that was on television. I feel like I’m fortunate to have entered the industry in a very inclusive time not just as a Latino, but also as a gay man. It’s very important to be able to see people like you on TV or film. I’m really happy to be part of this new movement. It’s exciting.”

Andra Reeve-Raab: “I haven’t been able to put out a project that is an LGBTQ story yet, and now that I’m able to make the decisions I plan to change that. It’s about being a responsible gatekeeper within diversity and inclusion.”

On Realizations When First Starting Out:

Harvey Guillen: “I never realized that it costs money to go after your dreams.” 

“I was always told by an agent ‘you’re never going to be the lead, you’re Mexican, you’re big and that’s not a lead.’ And I’m happy to report that I've been the lead in various shows. I since then ran into that agent and was not afraid to tell that person they were wrong. The agent’s response was ‘well those were a different time.’ I replied by saying ‘ It was up to you to get me in the door to be seen.’”

Patricia Vidal: “Some of that actors in my film [La Leyenda Negra] are undocumented, but I think it’s important for them to have a chance to be able to showcase their talents.”

On authenticity:

Jeremy Blacklow: “Sony is planning on remaking The Craft with Latina-trans women and they came to us [GLAAD] to help them find the actress. I feel like transgender people need to tell transgender stories.”

Frankie Rodriguez: “For me, it was important not to be type-cast when first starting out - i.e. the gay best friend….I also want to produce, I want to help people tell their stories too.”

EVENT: Dinner celebrating the cast of Blast Beat

The cast and crew of SONY Pictures’ Blast Beat held a dinner at The Latinx House ahead of their film’s premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. 

Notable attendees included: Wilmer Valderrama, Diane Guerrero, Daniel Dae-Kim, Moises Arias, Mateo Arias, Ava Capri, and Kali Uchis. 

EVENT: Celebrate Latinx Excellence at The Latinx House’s Sunday Night Party

The Latinx community is making history at Sundance 2020 with more films than ever in the competition. The Latinx House celebrated their first official launch at Sundance (and it won’t be the last!), sponsored by The Walt Disney Company, in honor of Latinx contributions to the arts. Featuring music by DJ Collective, A Party Called Rosie Perez.

Notable guests danced the night away in celebration of The Latinx’s House’s opening weekend at Sundance Film Festival: Darren Aronofsky, Wilmer Valderrama, Diane Guerrero, Jaden Smith, Daniel Dae-Kim, Moises Arias, Mateo Arias, and Matt Berninger. 

Hashtag | #TheLatinxHouse 
Instagram | @thelatinxhouse
Twitter | @thelatinxhouse

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