The 22nd Annual Urbanworld Film Festival taking place September 19-23 at the AMC Empire 25 in Manhattan, will be presenting many Latinx films as part of its slate of 69 official selections and seven spotlight selections.
Latinx-focused projects that will be featured at the festival include The Sentence, screening on Thursday, September 20, 2018. Directed by first-time filmmaker Rudy Valdez, the documentary takes a searing look at the devastating consequences of mandatory minimum sentencing through the lens of his own family. Cindy Shank, sister of Valdez and mother of three, is taken from her family to spend 15 years in federal prison for conspiracy charges. Valdez copes with the tragedy by filming his nieces for over a decade to capture the moments his sister misses.
The U.S premiere of El Chata / The Sparring Partner, directed by Gustavo Ramos Perales, will debut on Friday, September 21, 2018. The film centers around an ex-con and fading boxer who has the heart of a champion but has to endure life's punches that put him at risk of losing it all. A Q&A will follow the screening.
Elvis Nolasco (American Crime, She's Gotta Have It), Ramon Rodriguez (The Affair, The Defenders) and award winning filmmaker Sebastian Silva (Tyrel, Nasty Baby) are some of the talent and filmmakers confirmed to attend.
Sebastián Silva’s newest film Tyrel, follows the character of the same name, who joins his friend on a trip to the Catskills for a weekend birthday party with several people he doesn’t know. As soon as they get there, it’s clear that (1) he’s the only black guy, and (2) it is going to be a weekend of heavy drinking. Although Tyler is welcomed, he can’t help but feel uneasy in ‘Whitesville.’ The combination of all the testosterone and alcohol starts to get out of hand, and Tyler’s precarious situation starts to feel like a nightmare.
Showing in the Young Creators Showcase in its New York premiere is Sugar, directed by Emiliana Ammirata which follows an 11-year-old, sugar-addict Latina who goes through the motions of growing up in a not-so-sweet world.
Having its East Coast premiere as part of the U.S. Narrative Features is Flavor of Life, directed by Rajesh Golla about a weary Latino chef and his estranged grandson who must reconcile in order to save their beloved Mexican restaurant.
Max Powers’ Don’t Be Nice, having its New York premiere in the Documentary Features section of Urbanworld tells the story of the upstart Bowery Slam Poetry Team, made up of five young African-American, Afro-Hispanic and queer poets, prepares for the national championships. Mentored by a demanding coach who pushes them past their personal boundaries to write from a painfully honest place, the poets break down, break through, and compose their best work ever. Will their soul-searching pieces about police violence and the whitewashing of Black culture be able to compete against choreographed crowd-pleasers for the title?
Katie Galloway & Dawn Valadez’s The Pushouts, also screening in its New York Premiere in the Documentary Features section follows Dr. Víctor Ríos. “I was in prison before I was even born’… so begins the story of Rios who, by 15, was a high school dropout and gang member with multiple felony convictions and a death wish. But when a teacher's quiet persistence, a mentor's moral conviction, and his best friend's murder converge, Rios's path takes an unexpected turn. Through Rios's personal lens and its interplay with the stories of the young people of YO!Watts, The Pushouts interrogates crucial questions of race, class, & power - and the promise and perils of education - at a particularly urgent time.
The Latinx narrative shorts include Labor by Cecilia Albertini, Piu Piu by Naima Ramos-Chapman, Sin Cielo by Jianna Maarten, Somebody’s Daughter by Shalini Adnani, Time 2 Surrender by Elvis Nolasco, We Know Where You Live by Honora Talbott. Ramón Rodríguez’s Pa’lante / Forward is the only Latinx documentary short in the selection. Rounding up this year’s Latinx selection are the music videos Pa’lante (Featuring Hurray for the Riff Raff) by Kristian Mercado Figueroa and Scandal (Featuring Bashton and Maya Azucena) by Pablo Mengin.