Mining its key word for its many connotations, the Urbanworld Film Festival – now in its 21st year – is intent on showing the vast variety of stories that can fall under the label “urban.” This includes: gritty tales that take place in city streets, documentaries that tackle race head-on, and Latino dramas that focus on intersectionality. These are but a few of the examples of projects you’ll find in the one-of-its-kind fest in New York City. The Urbanworld programmers pride themselves on supporting up-and-coming voices that are bringing new stories to the screen. It’s no surprise they’d find room in this year’s schedule to celebrate two high profile projects that fit the bill: the Ava DuVernay-produced series Queen Sugar and the Chad Boseman-led biopic, Marshall. 

“Our 2017 slate reflects an even deeper variety of content including new categories animation shorts, web originals and music videos in response to the changing landscape inspired by the cross-cultural community of makers and innovators,” said Gabrielle Glore, Festival Director & Head of Programming. “We are proud that Urbanworld remains the destination for storytellers and studios to connect with a viewing audience as we continue to take a lead role in inclusion, highlighting distinct voices and elevating content creators with diverse backgrounds.”

Take a look at the Latino projects that you’ll be able to catch during the fest. They include an animated short about two Puerto Rican grandparents, a high school sports drama, and a documentary on the independent hip-hop and rap scene in Mexico. And while you’re at it, check out director Alex Rivera (Sleep Dealer) talk about the Urbanworld’s original content initiative, a year-round offering of curated insights and information from talented makers and creators – proof that while the fest happens once a year, their commitment to original storytelling takes no seasonal breaks.

Urbanworld Film Festival runs September 20-24, 2017 in New York City.

1

Varsity Punks

Production Year 2017
Varsity Punks 01
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Varsity Punks 02
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Varsity Punks 03
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Varsity Punks 04
Courtesy of Urbanworld

This film is playing in Urbanworld’s U.S. NARRATIVE FEATURES section.

Synopsis

Senior A.J. Montoya (Cody Esquivel) is his high school’s star quarterback until he breaks his hand. In desperation, AJ realizes that his only shot at athletic glory is to team up with his longtime rivals — the cross country team, quirky misfits lead by their feisty captain, Rosie (Andy Bueno). Together, they have the potential to win big under the guidance of Coach Menlo (Efren Ramirez), a likable slacker who is chasing a big win of his own!


Film Details

Director Anthony Solorzano
Country United States
Genre Sports Comedy Drama
Writer Anthony Solorzano
Producer Brandon A. Lopez Anthony Solorzano
Production Year 2017
Running Time 105 minutes
2

Somos lengua

Country Mexico
Production Year 2017
Somos lengua Hola Mexico
Courtesy of Hola México Film Festival
Somos lengua Hola Mexico 02
Courtesy of Hola México Film Festival

This film is playing in Urbanworld’s DOCUMENTARY FEATURES section.

Synopsis

A polyphonic portrait of the independent hip-hop and rap scene in Mexico. For young people who’ve been offered little or nothing by society, there is refuge, creative liberation, community, strength, and survival to be found in their passion for the word. From Guadalajara to Mexico City, Monterrey to Tijuana, this documentary lets the rappers speak for themselves and draw us into their raw worlds with freestyle and rhyme.


Film Details

Director Kyzza Terrazas
Country Mexico
Genre Music Documentary
Producer Carlos Sosa
Production Year 2017
Running Time 86 minutes
3

Shine

Production Year 2017
Shine 05
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Shine 04
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Shine 03
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Shine 02
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Shine 01
Courtesy of Urbanworld

This film is playing in Urbanworld’s U.S. NARRATIVE FEATURES section.

Synopsis

Shine exudes the power of brotherhood, love and redemption. Ralphi Matas returns to Spanish Harlem to develop commercial real estate in the Barrio he left behind after his father Ramon passed away. Ralphi encounters his estranged brother Junior, who forces him to recognize everything he left behind. As Ralphi confronts his past, his tenacious boss Linda pursues the lucrative development deal that threatens to dismantle his beloved Barrio and childhood memories. Ralphi is determined to reclaim what he has lost as a voice echoes in his mind: “we are connected from the very first beat to the very last echo.”


Film Details

Director Anthony Nardolillo
Country United States
Genre Music Drama
Writer Anthony Nardolillo Corey Deshon Ahmadu Garba
Producer Anthony Nardolillo Sandra Varona
Production Year 2017
Running Time 95 minutes
4

Quest

Production Year 2017
Quest 01
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Quest 02
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Quest 03
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Quest 04
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Quest 05
Courtesy of Urbanworld

This film is playing in Urbanworld’s U.S. NARRATIVE FEATURES section.

Synopsis

Based on a true story, “Mills” is an abused 12 year old graffiti addict who is losing faith in integrity. Tim Moellering is a humble middle school teacher and football coach in Berkeley California who believes that there is no such thing as a bad kid, only a bad situation. The two form an uneasy friendship when Tim recognizes Mills’ unhealthy behavior is merely a cry for help. Keeping his promise, Tim is willing to sacrifice his reputation, job and relationships in order win the child’s trust. But Mills cannot trust until he learns to trust his struggle first.


Film Details

Director Santiago Rizzo
Country United States
Genre Drama
Writer Darren Anderson Tim Moellering Santiago Rizzo
Producer Santiago Rizzo
Production Year 2017
Running Time 85 minutes
5

High & Mighty

Production Year 2017
High Mighty 05
Courtesy of Urbanworld
High Mighty 04
'High & Mighy.' Courtesy of Urbanworld
High Mighty 03
Courtesy of Urbanworld
High Mighty 02
Courtesy of Urbanworld
High Mighty 01
Courtesy of Urbanworld

This series is playing in Urbanworld’s WEB ORIGINALS section.

Synopsis

Lovable loser from the hood, Chelo Chavez, needs to get his shit together. After surviving a vicious shooting unscathed, Marcelo “Chelo” Chavez discovers that he has superhuman powers. But only when he’s drunk or high. Meaning really drunk…and really high! With the help of his sarcastic lil’ sis and his homies Hugo and Pat, Chelo tries to find out how he got these powers…and what he’s going to do with them now. Will Chelo be the savior of his Latino LA hood? Or just a bulletproof bum with a drinking problem?


Film Details

Director Carlos Lopez Estrada
Country United States
Genre Series
Writer Cesar Mazariegos
Producer Adam Hendricks John H. Lang Greg Gilreath
Production Year 2017
Running Time 25 minutes
6

Victor & Isolina

Production Year 2016

This film is playing in Urbanworld’s SHORTS PROGRAM.

Synopsis

Creatively visualized through 3D printing, two elderly Latinos embark on a resonating he said/she said account of the events that led them to live separately after more than 50 quirky and stressful years together.


Film Details

Director William Caballero
Country United States
Genre Animation Short Film
Producer William D. Caballero Louis E. Perego Moreno Elaine del Valle
Production Year 2016
Running Time 6 minutes
7

Hijo por hijo

Director Juan Avella
Country Venezuela
Production Year 2017
Hijo por hijo 01
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Hijo por Hijo 02
Courtesy of Urbanworld
Hijo por Hijo 03
Courtesy of Urbanworld

This film is playing in Urbanworld’s SHORTS PROGRAM.

Synopsis

The life of a Venezuelan Kidnapper takes an unexpected turn on his last job.


Film Details
Child for Child
Director Juan Avella
Country Venezuela
Genre Short
Producer Sharon Waich B
Production Year 2017
Running Time 10 minutes
8

So Far From God

Director Bret Polish
Production Year 2016
So Far From God 01
Courtesy of Urbanworld
So Far From God 02
Courtesy of Urbanworld
So Far From God 03
Courtesy of Urbanworld

This film is playing in Urbanworld’s SHORTS PROGRAM.

Synopsis

Determined to find her father in the U.S., a rebellious Mexican teen risks her life to make a perilous solo journey hiding in a truck with 15 undocumented immigrants and a limited air supply.


Film Details

Director Bret Polish
Country United States
Genre Short
Writer Bret Polish
Producer Bret Polish
Production Year 2016
Running Time 13 minutes