Things are getting slightly better for Latinos working in the US film and television industry, but that’s only because we’ve stopped sitting around and waiting for Hollywood to let us in. Facilitated by the rise in digital technologies, Latino content creators have started bypassing the traditional gatekeepers and telling our own stories in our own ways – and the entertainment industry has had to catch up.

But just because we’re starting to see more visibility for Latino stories and storytellers in the US mainstream doesn’t mean we should stop carving our own path, and initiatives like New York’s Official Latino Short Film Festival are a prime example of Latinos creating the alternative spaces we need.

Founded by filmmaker Danny Hastings and award-winning journalist Zayda Rivera, the Official Latino Short Film Festival is going into its second year with a two-day showcase scheduled for September 16-17 in El Barrio. After a successful inaugural run, the Official Latino fest is bringing in more firepower with a $2000 Grand Jury Prize that will be conceded to one of the 90 short films and web series featured in this year’s lineup.

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To boot, a special panel featuring Victor Cruz and moderated by Louis E. Perego Moreno will explore the importance of short films in the careers of future film stars, while the “Jefas Block” will feature 11 films directed exclusively by Latina creators. With space dedicated to US Latino and international shorts, projects by promising up-and-comers like Jeffrey Almonte and Tania Romero will share the screen with respected veterans like David Heredia.

All in all, the Official Latino Short Fest is a welcome addition to New York’s overcrowded film festival universe, and should have plenty to offer for both film fans and aspiring cineastas alike.