Taco Fiestas & Diego Luna Sightings: A Recap of Everything Latino at Sundance 2015

Read more

The Sundance Film Festival is an exhausting and overwhelming experience of running to screenings, standing in line for hours, and trying to quiet your rumbling stomach with a mixture of old protein bars and movie theater popcorn because you haven’t had a real meal in days. Eventually, you come to terms with the fact that you won’t see all the movies you want to, and then well, the IDGAF sets in — might as well go to a bunch of parties, get drunk, and head to an early-morning screening tomorrow hungover (and still hungry because they only serve tiny appetizers at those parties and the only restaurant open after 11:00pm is a 7-Eleven serving very old, and only slightly edible hotdogs.)

In between the delirium from lack of sleep and not being able to remember the name of the first film you saw that day because you are on your fourth screening — all of a sudden, you remember that other people have real jobs that really suck and you are watching movies all day. That’s when you realize that spending eight hours a day in a dark room is actually the best job ever. Then, you start to feel faint because your last meal was somewhere between movie # 1 and movie # 2, which was six hours ago and you start complaining again.

While riding the Sundance roller coaster of emotions, I tried my best to see everything, but I failed. Social media is a wonderful thing though. In case you missed some of it (like me) or missed all of it (like most of you out there) then here are all of the Latino happenings from this year’s Sundance.

(Let’s be honest, these are just some of the events that were actually documented — and by documented, I mean, were tweeted about.)

Latino Reel Panel at the Blackhouse on Friday, 1/23

The event, held at the Blackhouse, was organized by the non-profit Latino Reel and featured the panel discussion “Changing the Image of Latinos in Film.” It brought together an impressive list of Latino media movers-and-shakers including moderator Lucinda Martinez from HBO; writer/producer and former Editor-in-Chief of The Source, Carlito Rodriguez; Latino sci-fi trailblazer Alex Rivera; up-and-coming New York filmmaker Reinaldo Marcus Green; and novelist and filmmaker Alberto Ferreras.

Moderator Lucinda Martinez (Left)

Our recap of the event includes all the highlights. (Spoiler alert: there were lots of them.)

In a surprise to most attendees, the second part of the program was a conversation with the newly-anointed winner of a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Comedy, Gina Rodriguez. Strangely, there weren’t a lot of other press there. I guess the mainstream media thinks it’s no big thing when the third Latina in history to ever win a Golden Globe arrives to a town already crawling with celebs. Well, it was an extra-large, humongously big deal to us. We were front and center, hanging off her every syllable.

Gina Rodriguez at Latino Reel

This quote might be the best one… but there are so many… she’s the best… sigh.

Here’s everything she said that made us join the cult of St. Gina.

'Primavera' Premiere on Friday, 1/23

Tania Claudia Castillo is the director of the sole Mexican production at this year’s fest. She premiered Primavera, a short film about an introverted, lonely 14-year-old, named Elba who wants to bond with her sister Fernanda before she leaves home.

Tania Claudia Castillo at the film’s Q&A
Andrea Jiménez Camacho, Tania Claudia Castillo and Carlos Hernandez Vazquez.

'H.' Premiere on Sunday, 1/25

In H., directed by Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia, two women named Helen descend into madness after an alleged meteor strike sets off a series of strange events in their town of Troy, New York. An essential part of the story involves a very life-like infant doll, named Henry.

The filmmakers decided to bring Henry along to Utah, but it was a bumpy ride.

Post by H.

Post by H.

Post by H.


Thankfully, Henry made it just in time for the premiere.

Tony Revolori Lands in Utah to Promote Two Movies He's Starring In

Guatemalan-American actor Tony Revolori (the lobby boy in Grand Budapest Hotel) is one of those people who gets asked, “What are you?” all the time. His ambiguous features have been a boon to his career, allowing him to play characters of different ethnicities. In the much-buzzed Sundance hit Dope, he stars as Jib, a nerdy Latino kid from Inglewood, and in the India-set Umrikahe speaks Hindi. Revolori was in Park City promoting both films and from the looks of it, having lots of fun.

Tony Revolori with the cast of ‘Dope’
Tony Revolori in ‘Umrika’

NALIP Hosts a Mixer on Sunday, 1/25

The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) had a get-together at the very high-tech looking HP Sundance House to introduce new initiatives to their members and bring together Latinos in the film industry.

John Leguizamo Gets Real in Interview with THR on Sunday, 1/25

John Leguizamo and several members of the Experimenter cast sat down with The Hollywood Reporter at Sundance yesterday to discuss the film, which premiered last week. But when the interviewer posed a question about diversity in Hollywood and this year’s all-white Oscar nominations, the nearly all-white cast kind of froze up. Luckily, John Leguizamo quickly jumped in and took the reins. He spoke about the need to create his own roles in “Hollywouldn’t” because “I didn’t want to be a drug dealer and a murderer for the rest of my life. That’s not me and that’s not my people.”

Nasty Baby Premiere on Sunday, 1/25

Writer/director Sebastian Silva returned with Nasty Baby, his fifth premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. In his first leading role, Silva stars alongside Kristen Wiig and Alia Shawkat in this genre-bending drama about a gay couple trying to have a baby with their female best friend.

Sebastian Silva in ‘Nasty Baby’
Director Sebastian Silva with cast of ‘Nasty Baby’

The stars of Nasty Baby at the premiere.

The director always seems to be making someone laugh.

'The Second Mother' Premiere on Sunday, 1/25

In the Brazilian film, Que horas ela volta? (The Second Mother) written and directed by Anna Muylaert, Val is a live-in housekeeper for a wealthy São Paulo family. One day, Val’s daughter Jessica arrives from Val’s hometown to take the college entrance exams. Jessica’s kind of a got a smart mouth and doesn’t keep quiet when she thinks her mom is being treated like a second-class citizen. Val must decide whether to keep to her old ways or listen to her daughter.

Director Anna Muylaert
DIrector and cast of ‘The Second Mother’

Alfonso Gomez-Rejón's Film Makes History on Sunday, 1/25

Following up his moderately well-received horror debut, The Town that Dreaded Sundown, with a tear-jerker dramedy about an adolescent friendship and a terminal cancer patient aptly titled Me & Earl & The Dying Girl, Tejano helmer Alfonso Gomez-Rejón struck a landmark deal with distributors Fox Searchlight and Indian Paintbrush for a whopping $12 million. For a little perspective, here’s an interesting detail — it’s the largest sum of money ever paid for a distribution deal at Sundance.

Alfonso Gomez-Rejón and the cast of ‘Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’
Gomez-Rejón at the Grey Goose Blue Door party for his film

Here’s our coverage of the sale and his celebratory drinks afterwards.

¡Qué Viva La Música! Premiere on Monday, 1/26

Andrés Caicedo’s cult novel, ¡Qué Viva La Música! has been called The Catcher in the Rye of Colombia. Carlos Moreno directed the movie adaptation which had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance. Much like the novel, ¡Qué Viva La Musica! (translated for Sundance audiences as Liveforever) features murder, suicide, sex, drugs and rock and roll, but more importantly: salsa. The film’s first screening was early into Sundance’s second week and showed a few more times throughout the festival. Wednesday’s screening at the Egyptian Theater had some special visitors including: Diego Luna and Boots Riley of The Coup.

Carlos Moreno, the director of ¡Qué Viva La Música!

Diego Luna stopped by the Egyptian theater to watch Liveforever.

City of Gold Premiere and Taco After-Party on Tuesday, 1/27

City of Gold, the documentary on legendary Los Angeles-based film critic, Jonathan Gold, is sure to make anyone hungry — the audience at the Sundance premiere of the doc were lucky enough get treated to some authentically-L.A. fare from Guerilla Tacos.

Bricia Lopez, featured in the film talking about her family’s Oaxacan restaurant, La Guelaguetza, attended the premiere and admitted on Twitter that she got emotional.

Bricia’s picture of the post-screening Q&A

Wes Avila, of Guerrilla Tacos, missed the film because he was in the parking lot prepping 300 tacos for the hungry crowd.

Jonathan Gold and Bricia Lopez got to enjoy some Guerilla Tacos, in the snow.

For a list of the Latin American restaurants that Gold recommends in the film, read up…

Diego Luna Premieres Short at Sundance Institute Short Film Challenge on Wednesday, 1/28

Sundance is usually swimming with celebrities, red carpets, and after-party gossip mongers but a few big names are able to make it through the fest, under the radar. Diego Luna was in Park City but it wasn’t for a flashy premiere — his short film Nana was commissioned as part of the Sundance Institute Short Film Challenge.

Meant to “spark a global conversation about solutions to challenges like extreme hunger and poverty,” the contest winners were picked from more than 1,000 entries. In addition to the winners, Sundance Institute alumni, like Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Marialy Rivas were approached to create shorts which screened alongside the winners during the festival.

Luna and other participants in the Sundance Institute Short Film Challenge

Ahead of the screening, we caught up with Diego to talk about Nana, why he felt compelled to honor the work of women who raise other people’s children in his short film, and Mr Pig, a new feature-length movie he directed.

Now that the fest is over, the shorts are streaming online. You can watch Diego and Gael’s films here.

Ambulante Global Party on Thursday, 1/29

This year, Ambulante — the traveling documentary film festival founded in Mexico by Diego Luna, Gael Garcia Bernal, Elena Fortes, and Pablo Cruz — crossed the border into the U.S. for the first time. Headed up by Sundance Programming Associate Christine Davila, the newest incarnation, Ambulante USA, hopes to expand beyond this year’s Los Angeles stop and bring documentaries to cities across the United States. Ambulante Global, headed up by Elena Fortes (who served on the Sundance jury this year) threw a party to celebrate the expansion and ten year anniversary of the original fest. The party, held at Sundance’s New Frontier was a chance to people-watch, catch up with old friends, and quietly stalk celebrities.

Diego Luna, Elena Fortes, Christine Davila, and friends

Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia, Directors of ‘H.’

Awards Ceremony and Closing Night Party on Saturday, 1/31

Following 10 jam-packed days of screenings, panels, press events, and parties, this past Saturday, the jurors for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival announced the winners.

Especially noteworthy was the heavy presence of U.S. Latino and Latin American filmmakers as well as Latino-themed films among those who received awards. Miami-based director Kyle Patrick Alvarez received the Alfred P. Sloan Award for his latest feature The Stanford Prison Experiment, which explores the effects of Dr. Zimbardo’s infamous psychology study that simulated a prison.


In the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, the Brazilian Film The Second Mother received the Special Jury Award for Acting. Director Anna Muylaert and actress Camila Mardila accepted the award on behalf of Regina Case, who plays the protagonist.


Undoubtedly, the big winner at the festival was Alfonso Gomez-Rejón, a filmmaker who grew up in Laredo Texas, and whose parents are originally from Mexico. He won the two highest prizes for a narrative film at Sundance for Me & Earl & the Dying Girl — the U.S. Dramatic Competition Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize — joining films like Whiplash, Fruitvale Station, and Beasts of the Southern Wild.


Check out highlights from the speeches here…