The 19th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival announced their winners yesterday, the Festival is the nation’s largest competitive multicultural film festival and screened over 80 titles last week. This year’s Latino winners took home top prizes in Narrative Feature; Narrative Feature, World Cinema; Narrative Short; Best Screenplay; Best Documentary, as well as Honorable Mention.
Best Narrative went home to Michael Dwyer for his film Pocha (Manifest Destiny) (pictured left). Claudia is deported from the US after getting involved with credit card fraud and is forced to return to her estranged farther’s ranch in Northern México. Struggling to adapt to family and a way of life she has never known, she partners with a dangerous smuggler who promises to get her back to America if she helps him trespass on her family’s ranch.
Carmín Tropical (pictured right( tells the story of a successful trans nightclub singer Mabel who returns to her hometown in Mexico to investigate the murder of her best friend Daniela. Rigoberto Perezcano’s drama took home the award for Best Narrative Feature in World Cinema.
Best Screenplay went home with Yohanna Baez. Y Los Hipsters Que? follows Paloma who is frustrated in her third-world country. Her only source of relief is leading an artistic group of vandals – think Caribbean Banksy- responsible for the political graffiti/performance art around the city. Charismatic Sergio has recently moved back to Dominican Republic from New York and a chance encounter brings to together as they explore love, art and politics.
Mathew Ramirez Warren’s documentary We Like It Like That explores the Latin boogaloo, a lesser-known, but pivotal moment in Latin music history, through original interviews, music recordings, live performances, dancing and rare archival footage and images. The film was awarded Best Documentary.
Best Narrative Short went home to Standing by Michael Molina Minard. During a grueling ten-round undercard match-up, journeyman boxer Abdul loses control and kills his opponent Luis Hernandez in the ring. Months later, Abdul has to prepare for his next fight—the biggest fight of his career. No one suspects the deadly duel with Luis still haunts Abdul’s every move, threatening his grip on reality and life.
Last but not least, Alexandre Peralta’s Looking at the Stars was named Honorable Mention. In a world built on sight and sound, Peralta explores the only ballet school for blind, located in São Paulo, Brazil. He follows Geyza, one of the instructors and the star of the academy who lost her sight at the age of nine, but the gift of ballet changed her life forever.
The 19th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival took place September 23-27, 2015 in New York City.