I was going to write this week’s blog about the negative impact social networking sites, such as Facebook and My Space, are having on our teenagers, thus on society as a whole. However, as I was doing research on the subject matter I also had one eye watching a seemingly quiet storm.
A Latino storm which was rapidly beginning to pick up a significant amount of force as it raced its way through the geographical bandwidth tunnels that connect us all in this Facebook domain, which is quickly becoming our virtual reality.
Welcome to the fast paced world of video blogs, blogs, status updates and enough controversy to put all daytime soap operas out of business at the close of my generation.
Several weeks ago my good friend Casper Martinez of Latino Film Chatter began to compile a list of top 1,000 reasons he was not going to attend the New York International Latino Film Festival this year.
Here’s an example of his list:
“Reason # 5 I’m not going to the wanna-be Latino Film Festival: Have you seen the idiot Tony Kaye telling us to cut the umbilical chord? Great, a British guy giving Latinos his take on our culture. Calixto you are an idiot for allowing that. Then again should we expect any better? Maybe Lyndon McCray can edit an apology video for you…” ~ Casper Martinez
A very comical and strongly opinionated entry no doubt… However, Casper has said on many occasions that he’s not personally attacking Calixto and this one seemed a wee bit on the personal attack side of life in my humble opinion.
I don’t think Casper will be happy with me for saying this. But we’ve always respected each others right to express ourselves. So I think we’ll still be friends after this blog goes up.
I don’t know anything about Tony Kaye other than that he directed American History X, which is a very powerful film that enlightens us all about racism in this country. And when I saw his interview, in my personal opinion, he seemed to be coming across as sincere in his suggestion that we’re all one people. Being that I have a daughter who is of African American, Philippine, Chinese and Puerto Rican descent, I’m very comfortable with the separation and segregation of races coming to an end in my generation.
However, Casper’s argument was that a Latino should’ve directed the commercial for the “Latino” film festival… I can’t argue with him on that point, being that it’s so difficult for Latinos to get work these days. I also couldn’t see myself faulting Calixto for wanting to work with a talent such as Tony Kaye, so I stayed silent on the matter.
Or as I learned to say down south, “I had no dog in that fight…”
Interestingly enough I met Calixto Chinchilla, founder of the New York International Film Festival through Casper Martinez some years back, and I’ve always found him to be a very personable and likeable gentlemen. So my only wish would’ve been to see this come to the table to find a resolve that all parties would’ve been satisfied with. In lieu of once again airing our dirty laundry for the world to laugh about. It seems there truly is very little loyalty amongst Latinos these days.
It must be part of what diminishes our strength in Hollywood and keeps us from acquiring the type of power the Jewish, Italians, African Americans and yes, the Mexicans have acquired in filmmaking.
But Ivan, aren’t Mexican’s Latinos?
I’m not even going to touch that one right now in regards to the strides Mexicans have made in Hollywood that the rest of the Latino populace can’t even begin to come close to. That’s a blog for another day.
Lyndon McCray is a talented filmmaker in his own right who I first met on the Franc Reyes film, The Ministers, EPK shoot. I ran across Lyndon several more times including at a screening of the short documentary, This War At Home, that I was involved in. He gave me a great deal of praise on the piece and placed it on the Cinedulce website, which is run by NYILFF.
And true, as Casper said, if anyone could edit a nice apology together for Calixto, it would be Lyndon. But why should Calixto apologize?
Well here’s where it gets interesting and where I’ve now had to place a ‘dog in the fight,’ if you will, possibly at the expense of being banned from the festival for life…
My good friend Linda Nieves-Powell, author (Free Style), award winning playwright and all around bad ass Latina chick who took on MTV last year and won her battle to remove some bullshit portrayals of Latinos from the channel, has taken offense to the early cuts of the NYILFF commercials now airing on the website.
The commercial is of a snobby little future filmmaker directing her abuelita to say her lines correctly, even though her lines only consist of the words, “Yes,” and “Si...”
When abuela fails to deliver the lines to her satisfaction she yells, “You stupid old bitch… these generation gaps really piss me off...”
As if the words weren’t shocking enough, the next thing you see on the screen is a gun firing off two rounds.
Are we to assume that this “pissed off” mini-filmmaker just smoked her abuela for not delivering her lines?
Only time will tell how the commercial ends… but so far, in my opinion… No Bueno!
I watched the commercial many times to see what it was that bothered me, or if anything about it bothered me, not to be the bandwagon guy…
And in all honesty, the only thing that bothered me was the gun being brought into the equation at the end. I see too much violence out here in the streets of the South Bronx to be turned on by the sound of gunfire.
I’m much more shocked when I see a four-year-old in the street call her mom a bitch and watch the mom laugh about it – but it happens all the time.
I’m much more shocked that we do have a generational gap that is so large that our elders truly are no longer respected in any communities I’ve been to recently.
I’m much more shocked that while I agree with Casper’s initial assessment, complaint and argument that he merely wants the NYILFF to live up to it’s mission statement, at least the part that reads, “Our mission is to showcase the works of the hottest emerging Latino filmmaking talent in the US and Latin America. Offer expansive images of the Latino experience. And celebrate the diversity and spirit of the Latino community…” That we still can’t come together as professional Latinos and find peaceful resolve to these conflicts.
Casper has helped many talented people find their way in this entertainment business – Shit, he discovered my book and placed me in a position to be writing this blog… Calixto has provided a platform to many others and hopefully will one day be airing Next Stop: Growing up Wild-Style in the Bronx on the big screen at the festival when the right team comes along to produce it.
These are two brothers I have a great deal of respect and admiration for… I just can’t see why we have to continue to play the controversy card knowing it will help us sell but won’t help us progress… knowing it will also leave us all tarnished…
I guess Diddy has it right… It’s all about that dirty money.
Someone recently told me I’ll never be successful because I choose not to play the game dirty… I disagreed and told them when I get there I’ll change the rules. So get ready for a new game one day…
Until then, we’ll all have to agree to disagree.
And as NYILFF prepares to announce the panels for this years festival… there can be no better panel than to place Casper Martinez, Calixto Chinchilla, Linda Nieves-Powell, Lyndon McCray and Tony Kaye on a stage and let these great industry minds work their magic.
Towards a better resolve, a better festival, a better unity for Latinos and better days ahead.
Or is that just my wishful thinking getting the best of me again?
Ivan Sanchez is the author of Next Stop: Growing up Wild-Style in the Bronx (Touchstone – Simon & Schuster, 2008). The book is the first memoir released by a major publishing house written by a Puerto Rican from the Bronx. Sanchez is also the co-author of It’s Just Begun: The Epic Journey of DJ Disco Wiz, Hip Hop’s First Latino DJ (powerHouse, 2009). He was awarded the National Novel honors for his first fiction offering and is currently working on several new books about NY Latinos. He is also the co-host of Rebel Radio on Urban Latino Radio.