Here’s What to Watch at the Dominican Film Festival in New York

Lead Photo: Courtesy of the filmmakers
Courtesy of the filmmakers
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The 8th edition of the Dominican Film Festival in New York is returning to Manhattan to offer a glimpse of what the DR film industry looks like in 2019. DFFNY’s mission is to promote a new generation of Dominican filmmakers, along with established ones, and this year’s roster bears that out. Opening the fest is Lo que siento por ti (What I Feel For You). Directed by Raúl Camilo and based on real life stories, the emotional melodrama weaves together three stories about the challenges faced by disabled children and their parents; one story is of a young man with Down syndrome who earns a spot in the Special Olympics of Latin America, to be held in Puerto Rico.

Representing the way the Dominican Republic is currently opening its doors to international co-productions is John Hillcoat’s Corazón. The latest film from the director of The Road and Triple 9 follows Elena, a sex worker who’s last resort in battling an illness lays in an impossible journey to New York City. Corazón is also based on a true story and stars Oscar nominee (and Grand Hotel star) Demián Bichir

When Carmen Castillo won a seat on the city council in Providence, Rhode Island while between shifts as a hotel housekeeper, she became a prime example of how the working class can make inroads into local politics. Chronicling her 2014 reelection bid, as well as telling Castillo’s story starting from her arrival in the U.S. from the Dominican Republic in the mid-1990s, Councilwoman is a call to action for those hoping to see politics change in 2019.

For those hoping to get yet another story of a Dominican immigrant who made inroads for those that came after him, look no further than The Dominican Dream. Jonathan Hock’s ESPN-produced documentary on “the Dominican Michael Jordan” (aka Felipe Lopez) is a fascinating look at the young basketball player’s meteoric rise to fame in the ’80s and ’90s in New York City. Embraced as an immigrant hero, then cast aside as an American failure, Lopez emerges as someone who had to make peace with the hand that was dealt to him, eventually finding happiness not as a basketball player, but as the man he was always meant to be.

Elsewhere, you can also check out a fantasy comedy starring hunky William Levy (Cinderelo), a gritty New York City-set drama about a trans woman searching for her missing sister (La Lupe), and even a documentary on singer-songwriter Rafael Solano (Solano) – not to mention a wealth of short films produced both in the island and abroad by those belonging to the Dominican diaspora. Check out the full lineup so as to not miss any of these must-see screenings.

The Dominican Film Festival in New York runs July 23-29, 2019.