We are very happy with the line-up we had for this year’s festival
We had over 25 features and shorts…
We had a few good workshops, like Film Distribution, The Business of Filmmaking: Avoiding the pitfalls and staying ahead of the curve and a great Directors’ Roundtable
The Awards evening was full of great stories and wonderful acceptance speeches. And the evening ended with lots of networking.
L-r: RRAFF Angela María Ortíz S., actor/producer Douglas Spain (Mission Park feature), RRAFF John Ramirez, actor Pepe Serna (Pioneer Award), Elijah Velarde (The Shooting Star Salesman short), writer/director Kenneth Castillo (Trailblazer Award), Cecilia Garcia accepted for actress/activist Carmen Zapata (Career Achievement Award), Juan Solis (Feature Artist-Vision Award), RRAFF Juan Escobedo, and writer/director Kico Velarde (The Shooting Star Salesman short). Photo: Wilki Image
It was an evening fill with excitement and anticipation. The evening was mc’d by actress/comedian Kiki Melendez and we were treated to a taste of Pioneer award recipient, Pepe Serna’s one-man stage show, Ruco Chuco Cholo Pachuco.
It was a wonderful evening enjoyed by all.
Carmen Margarita Zapata, born in New York in 1927 to a Mexican father and an Argentine mother, has distinguished herself as an actress, teacher, activist, and leader of Latino Hollywood for more than sixty years.
Carmen began entertaining on the musical stage, making her Broadway debut in the chorus of Oklahoma in 1946, and continuing in regional and summer stock roles in Bloomer Girl, Bells Are Ringing, Guys and Dolls, Carnival (with Liza Minnelli), and many others. In 1956 she appeared on Broadway in The Innkeepers, starring Geraldine Page and directed by Jose Quintero. Carmen was active on the stand-up comedy circuit as well, performing in clubs and hotels across the country while billing herself as “Marge Cameron” in order to encourage non-discriminatory employment.
She returned late to acting in the early 1960s as Carmen Zapata, and the search for ethnic support roles proved both difficult and unfulfilling. It was impossible to steer clear of the severe stereotypes imposed on her, yet she managed to establish a name for herself on 1970s TV. She appeared as a series regular alongside Anthony Quinn in The Man and the City in 1971, played the matriarch in the ethnic family sitcom Viva Valdez in 1976 appeared as Arthur Hill’s housekeeper in the detective drama Hagen in 1980, and had recurring roles in everything from The New Dick Van Dyke Show to Flamingo Road.
Always striving for dignity, intelligence and positiveness in her work, she was often defeated by token appearances that underused her vast talents. When afforded the opportunity she could be quite touching and heartfelt. Dramatic and comedic performances included roles in literally hundreds of dramas and comedies throughout the Seventies and Eighties, from Bonanza and Marcus Welby, M.D. to Wonder Woman, L.A. Law, Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman, and many, many others. She was seen sporadically in the late 1980s and early 1990s on the daytime soap Santa Barbara and most recently appeared as one of the choir nuns in the box-office bonanza Sister Act (1992) and its sequel.
More significantly, Ms. Zapata established herself as a prominent benefactor to the Los Angeles-area performing arts. In 1973 she co-founded the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts (BFA), a resident theater company and organization dedicated to bringing the Hispanic experience and culture to the Southern California community via the medium of bilingual stage productions. Serving as its president and producing director, many honors have been bestowed upon her for her selfless contributions. Establishing a durable relationship with the Los Angeles Unified School District to bring the works of great Hispanic authors to public school students, she has produced over 80 plays on BFA’s mainstage. On TV, she starred as the town mayor for nine seasons on the PBS’ bilingual children’s television show Villa Alegre. Continue reading
Born in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1944, Serna was initially discovered in Roger Corman’s film Student Nurses in 1970, and soon thereafter appeared in the Hal Wallis-produced film Red Sky at Morning in 1971. Within months, he was working steadily on television dramas and comedies that have become classics: Mannix, Kung Fu, Police Story, and on and on. Along the way, he’s appeared in some of Hollywood’s most memorable films, including Scarface, Silverado, Car Wash, and Clint Eastwood’s The Rookie. He was Reno Nevada in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, he was part of Latino landmark films and television projects like Resurrection Blvd., An American Family and American Me. He even played Jennifer Lopez’ father twice, in two different CBS series in the 1990’s, before she became a superstar (for the record: Second Chances and Hotel Malibu).
For more than forty years, Pepe has worked regularly in film and television; he’s still frequently recognized on the street for everything from Miami Vice to “that guy from Dragnet” (or Matlock, or Diagnosis Murder or thirty other TV shows) He’s worked on stage as well, most notably in a one-man show called El Ruco, Chuco, Cholo, Pachuco, Serna’s own version of the panorama of Latino cultural history. Over the years he’s branched into voice-over and cartoon work as well. He played “Sanchez,” the only continued Latino Character in Eddie Murphy’s animated series The PJ’s. Today, he has half a dozen film projects filming or in post-production, often offering his support on projects that include many young Latino talent, including Road to Juarez, Clean Sweep, and Man from Reno.
Pepe’s sideline as a painter has met with critical success as well. His vibrant paintings and recent one-man stage shows reflect a serious return to his Mexican roots, and he has been commissioned quite frequently. In fact, Pepe was recently commissioned by the Los Angeles Annenberg Metropolitan Project and the Mark Taper Foundation to paint an inspirational canvas on the subject of reading. It was turned into a poster and given to students in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Pepe has been honored by the Screen Actors Guild Heritage Achievement Award; the League of United Latin American Citizens; and the prestigious Estrella Award for Arts & Culture from the Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. His energy, enthusiasm, and constant stream of ideas and projects had made Pepe Serna an important part of the Latino community in Los Angeles, and a valued ally in our continuing cultural movement.
The Reel Rasquache co-director and publisher of Se Fija! Angela María Ortíz S. and RRAFF13 producing consultant, Juan Escobedo, director of Tela Sofa, were on the Pocho Hour with Lalo Alcaraz on Friday, April 19. They Talked about the big fundraiser coming up on Saturday, April 27 at Self Help Graphics in Boyle Heights. If you missed it, you can listing to the show here. A great time time was had by all.
Photos: ©2013 Anselmo S. Ortiz
Independent writer/producer/director Kenneth Castillo has built an impressive portfolio over the last decade or more. In 2000 he and his now-wife Karla Ojeda formed a film production company called Valor Productions; their first project was The Misadventures of Cholo Chaplin, a re-framing of the Charlie Chaplin silent shorts of the 1920’s and 30’s set in the Mexicano world of the Day of the Dead. Some of the Cholo episodes screened at film festivals across the country, and one appeared at the 2007 Cannes film festival and won the Imagen Award for the Best Theatrical Short Film the next year. Since 2008, Kenneth has written and directed four features, a series of “urban Latino” films under the group name of The Drive-By Chronicles: Sidewayz, Ghostown, and Confessions of a Gangster have been picked up by Comcast and Time Warner cable for Video on Demand distribution. Today he has more than half a dozen projects or more in various stage of pre-production, shooting, or post-production.
In spite of all that activity, he doesn’t begin to fit the stereotypical image of the young Hollywood hustler. “I’m not a networking guy,” he says. “I believe in building relationships. They’re truer and they last longer, and they’re more solid than ‘networking’ relationships. I’m proud of the process I’ve developed over the last twelve to fifteen years, proud that the actors want to continue to work with me after they’ve worked with me.”
Castillo’s Counterpunch is the feature film at the center of Reel Rasquache 2013’s closing ceremonies. And there’s plenty of work to be done. This touching and dramatic story of a Cuban boxer out of Miami who suffers from bipolar disorder includes a number of well-known Latino actors in its cast, including Danny Trejo, Steven Bauer, and Yeniffer Behrens, among many others. “A really great cast of established and up-and-coming talent,” Castillo says, and a real challenge for him both creatively and organizationally: he served as co-writer/director on Counterpunch, and the budget was three times larger than what he normally works with.
For Castillo, it’s not about a single project–though he has plenty to his name. It’s about a body of work. “Filmmaking is a craft; You only get better at it by doing it. Other filmmakers want their first film to be a Picasso and it’s just not. They put everything into that one project. But if I’m shooting something that means I’m already writing the next project, and if I’m editing then I’m getting ready to shoot the next project. I never feel like ‘This is the one.’ I never know, I just know at this moment, I have to do the best with what I have. I don’t play this game like the lottery.” Continue reading
Juan Solis is an artist whose passion for his art takes him to the outer limits of his imagination, to capture his own reality of life and through his art and to demonstrate the beauty of his community.
As a struggling artist Solis, who began painting when he was 12, never gave up hope that his talent would one day endowed would one day be recognized. In the meantime he spent years studying his craft at various art academies in the United States and Mexico. Returning to the states, he spent eight years at the Academia de Arte Yepes of East Los Angeles, developing and creating his own distinctive techniques under the guidance of world-renowned artist-muralist George Yepes. Growing recognition of his work has led to comment like this from art collector Armando Duron: “There is a reality about his work that puts it one step above the heroic images captured by other artists.”
In 1995, Solis was one of eight young Hispanic master painters who worked on the Cassini mural with Charles Kohlhase of the Cassini project. This 12’x25’ mural was commissioned by JPL/NASA through the Academia de Arte Yepes. The painters of this stunning blend of art and science were lead by artist Ulysses Garcia. The mural can be seen at JPL in Pasadena, CA. Juan Solis is a resident artist at ChimMaya Art Gallery located in East Los Angeles, CA.
Solis is committed to his community. You often find him painting in his community and being part of philanthropic causes that also benefit the community. Issues dear to him are, education, arts, culture, children and families.