As a film and television buff, I’m always keeping an eye out for up-and-coming folks behind the camera (yes, I’m one of the people who stay in the theater to the very end of the credits). So, when I noticed an increasing number of Latino names on credits, I knew there was a story. Here’s a piece I did for USA Today’s Hispanic Living magazine about the new generation of Latino filmmakers.
Lights. Camera. Acción! Latino filmmakers on the move
By Monica Rhor, USA TODAY Hispanic Living
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s childhood in Laredo, Texas, was one of art and poetry and music, where Mexican boleros and the words of Octavio Paz filled the house. Spanish was the language of home, and the border separating the town from its Mexican sister city of Nuevo Laredo was a fluid concept.
It was also a time of devouring movies — visits to Laredo’s theaters, binging on rentals from the Video Hut, discovering films that would change his life, such as Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets.
That cinematic awakening led Gomez-Rejon to a career behind the camera, making him one of a small but growing number of Latinos making a mark in Hollywood as directors, writers and producers. If you go to the movies or watch television, chances are you’ve seen their work:
- Alfonso Cuarón’s balletic vision of space in Gravity, which earned him a place in Oscar history as the first Latino to win the best director award.
- Guillermo del Toro’s fantastical, frightening depictions of the Spanish Civil War inPan’s Labyrinth and the comic book underworld of Hellboy.
- Linda Mendoza’s lighthearted comedy Chasing Papi and her groundbreaking work directing TV shows such as The Bernie Mac Show, Ugly Betty and 30 Rock.
- Félix Alcalá’s Emmy award-nominated work directing Battlestar Galactica and his regular credits on The Good Wife and Criminal Minds.
- Norberto Barba’s stamp as a director and producer on highly acclaimed dramas, including Grimm and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
In film, Gomez-Rejon has won praise for his work as an assistant or second-unit director on Julie & Julia, Babel, Eat Pray Love and Argo, and for directing episodes of TV’s American Horror Story and Glee.
Latino directors have styles, sensibilities and background stories as varied as the country’s Latino population. Mendoza, raised in Detroit, is the grandchild of Mexican Americans from Texas. Barba, the child of Cuban immigrants, grew up in the Bronx. Alcala was born in Bakersfield, Calif. Cuarón and del Toro are both Mexican-born.
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