The 2018 Sundance Film Festival has come to a close and officially started the engine on this year’s movie season. Of the countless films screened and, more importantly, sold at the influential film festival, three are directed by Latinos.
Of the three two deal with race relations. Blindspotting, directed by Mexican-born Carlos López Estrada, features Hamilton star Daveed Diggs and Rafael Casal as two friends dealing with the aftermath of jail time and being on parole while living in Oakland. Blindspotting received a prestigious opening night spot at the festival where reviews were positive, though it failed to secure any awards. The film quickly sold for an undisclosed amount to Lionsgate who will release it nationwide via their Codeblack Films and Summit Entertainment label later this year. This is Estrada’s debut as a solo director after working on shorts.
Also snapped up was Monsters and Men, the feature-length directorial debut of director Reinaldo Marcus Green. Green first came on the scene with his acclaimed 2015 short Stop, inspired by the events of the Trayvon Martin shooting. Monsters and Men treads similar territory with its story of a man who captures the shooting of an unarmed man by a white police officer. The film won the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Outstanding First Feature and is set to be released by Neon – best known for the Academy-Award nominated I, Tonya – later this year.
And purchased by HBO Films is Rudy Valdez’s The Sentence, a documentary based on his sister’s incarceration after being convicted of conspiracy charges for a crime her boyfriend committed. Valdez makes his directorial debut after spending several years in cinematography. The Sentence won the Sundance Audience Award in the U.S. Documentary Competition. When receiving the award, the Mexican-American director gave an impassioned speech. Through tears, he opened up about why he made the film: “All my life I felt like I didn’t have a voice. I felt like my community was underserved. I felt like my family was underserved. I kept waiting for somebody to help us, somebody to step up to the plate. And when my sister was given a 15-year prison sentence for a first-time non-violent offense six years after the fact, and I got that punch in the gut, I decided that I wasn’t going to wait any longer for someone to give me a voice.” This is a solid fit for the doc, especially in light of HBO’s acquisition of another hard-hitting feature, the rape drama The Tale. It’s unknown when HBO plans to debut the documentary.