Had a great time last night attending the special encore film screening of the two winning films from the Hispanicize 2012 (#Hispz12) showcase. The heart-warming feature, The Miracle of Spanish Harlem, directed by Derek Velez Partridge and scored by my friend Richard Martinez, was preceded by the short The History of Spaceflight, an action/adventure for kids directed by Chris Caraballo.
Both films were winners in their categories in the three-year old Hispanicize festival that aims to bring together Latino culture with trendsetters and newsmakers. Hispanicize tried Dallas and LA as home bases before settling in Miami. We here in South Florida are very happy about that! Most of its programming focuses on a few days of intensive programming, including a Latino Film Showcase, in April. That's where Miracle won the $10,000 feature prize and Spaceflight won the $5,000 short film prize. Last night's screening was an encore premiere for audience members in the Miami area.
Since I've been travelling too much in the last few months I'd missed the main Hispanicize event, but my friend Richard Martinez alerted me to the encore screening. Richard is a veteran composer for film, documentaries and industrials. His credits include the scores for the documentary The Last Conquistador, shown on POV in 2008, and Howard Zinn: You Can't be Neutral on a Moving Train, which was shortlisted for an Oscar nomination. Richard's music has a big, orchestral sound that has always moved and astounded me. You can get a taste of it in the trailer for Miracle here:
Miracle is the kind of movie you almost never see anymore, designed to be enjoyed by the whole family at the same time. Tito, (Luis Antonio Ramos, a TV veteran), is the cynical and emotionally bruised widower and father of two little girls, (one of which is played by Fatima Ptacek, the new face of Dora The Explorer.) In his search for love he meets Eva (Mexican star Kate del Castillo) but the progress of the romance is hampered by Tito's lack of faith in life in general and miracles in particular. It's Christmas, so miracles, both real and fake, do happen, each with their own mysterious and marvellous impact on everyone in Spanish Harlem.
The Miracle website invites viewers to post a note about miracles that have occurred in there own lives. Great reading, including graphic images of an injured kitty!
The program opened with a short by Chris Caraballo, The History of Spaceflight, a short that combines children (including an adorable set of twins played by Rachel and Amanda Pace), epic quests (a trap door leading to an attic where Christmas presents are hidden) and hair-raising action.
At the reception after the film we heard war stories from the films' sets. Miracle producer Ed Martin talked about the trials and travails of shooting a low budget film in New York City, Derek's father told us about a set plagued with blizzards when snow wasn't needed and then having to operate a snow machine when it was, and Caraballo's grandparents told us how Spaceflight was based on Chris's childhood experiences with his cousins at their house in the Miami area.
The reception was elegantly catered by Truluck's of Miami.
Other filmmakers, actors and celebrities who attended or screened their works at Hispanicize 2012 this year were: Andy Garcia (For Greater Glory), Steven Bauer (Scarface), Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer), Emilio Estefan (19-time GRAMMY-winning Music Producer), Jessy Terrero (director of Gun and Soul Plane), Gina Rodriguez (Filly Brown), Dominik Garcia-Lorido (Magic City), Yul Vasquez (Magic City), Nelly Galan (Entrepreneur, The Swan), Pepe Serna (Scarface), Maria Elena Salinas (Univision anchor), Angel Salazar (Scarface), Mauricio Mendoza (Unknowns, Resurrection Blvd.,)and Yeniffer Behrens (Unknowns, Decisions), as well as others.