NYILFF: Shine On

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On Thursday night I went to the world premiere of Shine On, part of the New York International Latino Film Festival, and shot right here in New York. I knew nothing of the film except the great Flaco Navaja was in it and my friends were going, so why not? It was a very modest screening at Fordham University, with cast and crew and all their friends and family in attendance.

I was expecting another  film about “life in the barrio,” low budget and cliched about growing up tough in da Bronx. Instead, I was blown away by the beautiful cinematography, the excellent performances by newcomer Andrew Cisneros, Flaco, Michael Rivera and Nicholas Gonzalez (The OC, Ugly Betty, etc). Directed by Agustin (Agustin Fernandez) and produced by Andrew Adelson, Shine on (title is still in progress, it was formerly called Wonderwall) is a bit slow, but flows very nicely, with good editing and close attention to detail in the script and in every scene.

Andrew Cisneros, a California native, carries the film in almost every scene, not only as the main character Jay, but he also recorded all the songs in the excellent soundtrack, mostly acoustic on guitar. Even though he had me at his take of Blind Melon’s “No Rain,”  he actually wrote all the original songs in Shine On. No token hip hop and reggaeton music in the film just because its set in the Bronx, but there is some Yerbabuena songs in there, which are very appropiate. This is Andy Cisnero’s first feature film, and my friends are I were very impressed by his dimples and abs (yes, I admit it!) but also by his raw talent (he’s a singer-songwriter, leader of the group Grass Anatomy in Los Angeles) . My main complain of the movie was the treatment of the female characters (virtually non-existent, they just saw and cook) and actress Jenna Dewan’s performance falls short. At the end of the screening, people from the cast (Flaco included) were in tears and everyone in the audience was blown away.

It’s a shame the production company hasn’t promoted the film yet to create buzz (I just spent hours looking for at least press photos or some info on the movie to no avail. According to producer Andrew Adelson, they ran out of money so they’re scrambling, plus they haven’t even showed it to distributors yet. Director Agustin was not able to come for the premiere, which was a shame.

There will be another screening of Shine On  tomorrow, Sunday, at 2:15pm at Fordham University, so go watch it!!!