(Los Angeles, CA) June 29, 2016 – This summer, three original new short films from Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) will premiere on PBS.org as part of the PBS Online Film Festival and PBS Indies. The three new works by emerging young Latino filmmakers explore issues of gender, sexuality and acceptance. Drowning is the poignant story of a bullied overweight teenager and his first love, while Gold Star and Vámonos explore long-standing Latino cultural attitudes toward the LGBT community.
Gold Star will be presented as part of the PBS Online Film Festival, which runs from July 11-29; Drowning and Vámonos premiere on Monday, August 8 on the PBS Indies site (pbs.org/indiefilms), an online destination offering a diverse collection of short and feature length independent films.
“We’re delighted to have three of our productions launching on the PBS Indies online platform this summer,” said LPB Executive Director Sandie Viquez Pedlow. “Each of these films is the work of promising new Latino filmmakers and represent our longtime commitment to nurturing new talent. We’re also pleased to be producing more content for the digital space and proud to bring these three new works to PBS’s large and diverse online community.”
The three shorts films are:
Gold Star by Karla Legaspy
When Iliana dedicates a love song to her teacher during an elementary school talent show, the ensuing homophobic reactions from school officials and her mother, Terry, taint the entire experience. Iliana’s disappointment escalates when she overhears Terry accusing her own queer best friend, Chela, of influencing her daughter’s actions. Despite the disastrous evening, Iliana finds true solace and faith with a note from Chela and the support of her best friend.
Drowning by Ryan Velazquez
Gabe, an overweight high-schooler, finally musters the courage to talk to Sarah, the girl of his dreams, and a promising friendship that’s almost too good to be true forms. He even starts feeling good about the “extra love” he’s carrying around. But when Sarah becomes the target of Marcus, his personal bully, things take a turn for the worse and Gabe must decide whether or not to finally stand up.
Vámonos by Marvin Lemus
Hope is distraught when she learns that Mac, her recently deceased girlfriend, is going to be buried in a dress. She desperately tries to persuade Rosa, Mac’s mother, to bury her in a suit instead. Realizing that she’s fighting implacable traditional views, Hope, with the help of her friend, takes matters into her own hands. Will she have the courage to follow through and honor her dead lover’s identity?
About the Filmmakers
KARLA LEGASPY (Writer/Director/Producer, Gold Star) is an L.A. based MeXicana indigena filmmaker and actor. She is company co-producer of AdeRisa Productions, whose feature film Bruising for Besos will premiere summer of 2016. Legaspy’s filmmaking experience ranges from production coordinator in new media projects, directing/producing music videos, and line producer/producer for films. Currently, she’s developing an episodic series “DIX” and a feature film, Marisol.
Legaspy has starred in films such as Flor de Naranja, Roses of April, Betrayed, and Pura Lengua, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. She is the co-founder and director of programming of the Latin@ Queer Arts and Film Festival/Cine Arte Film Festival. She envisions her work as the best tool for activism and her contribution to empowering her community.
RYAN VELASQUEZ (Writer/Director, Drowning) was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area to a Guatemalan father and Chinese mother. Growing up biracial in a diverse socio-economic community has impacted his voice and style as a filmmaker. In 2012, he graduated from the American Film Institute’s prestigious directing program where he was given the Bridges-Larson Production grant for demonstrating skill in working with actors. His short film Ojalá went on to win the DGA Student Award and screened at over a dozen festivals around the world. His follow-up short Record Breaker won “Best Comedy” at LA ShortsFest, making it eligible for Academy Award consideration. Velasquez is currently in post-production on a web series called “Re-Date,” which is being financed and produced by Charles King’s Macro Ventures.
MARVIN LEMUS (Director, Vámonos) is a Mexican/Guatemalan-American writer, director and producer. Lemus’ work in digital comedy ranges from successful viral video campaigns for the Roadside Attractions/Lionsgate feature film Dear White People to original digital content that has been featured on numerous websites like HuffingtonPost.com, FunnyOrDie.com, and Flama TV. Lemus is a recent alumnus of Film Independent’s Project Involve. His work has been screened at San Diego Latino Film Festival, Frameline, Outfest, and Cinequest, to name a few. Recently, Lemus co-wrote and directed his first original web series, GENTE-FIED, about Latino characters dealing with the gentrification of Boyle Heights. The series is produced by the Macro Ventures and Executive Produced by America Ferrera.
MOIRA MOREL (Writer/Director of Photography, Vámonos) is an accomplished cinematographer living in Los Angeles with a background in both documentary and narrative filmmaking. Morel was raised in a conservative Latino household in the suburbs of Detroit. After finishing high school, her desire to get a different take on the world led her to Evergreen State College (TESC) in Olympia, WA. It was at TESC that Morel found her passion for photography, documentary filmmaking and activism. In 2012 Morel was accepted into the cinematography program at the American Film Institute (AFI) in Los Angeles. Since completing her MFA in 2014, Morel has shot commercials, music videos, shorts, and web series. Many of the films that Morel lensed have screened and won awards at film festivals nationally and internationally, most notably, The Skinny, which premiered at Sundance in 2015 and The Punk Singer, which had its world premiere at SXSW in 2013.
ERICK CASTRILLON (Writer, Vámonos) was born in Colombia and was twelve when his family left to seek the stability of the American suburbs. He got his B.A. at Florida International University in English Literature, where deconstruction and post-colonial theory became his jam. Castrillon earned his M.F.A. in Writing for the Screen & Television from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. There he wrote several feature screenplays and short films while interning at Alexander Payne’s production company, Ad Hominem Enterprises. Upon graduating he was invited to participate in Film Independent’s diversity program, Project Involve, as a Screenwriting Fellow. There he co-wrote Vámonos, which premiered at Outfest Fusion Film Festival, and independently wrote and produced the short film Blast Beat, which premiered at the prestigious Clermont-Ferrand Shorts Film Festival followed by its Latin American premiere at the International Film Festival in Guadalajara.
About Latino Public Broadcasting
Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) is the leader in the development, production, acquisition and distribution of non-commercial educational and cultural media that is representative of Latino people, or addresses issues of particular interest to Latino Americans. These programs are produced for dissemination to public broadcasting stations and other public telecommunication entities. Latino Public Broadcasting provides a voice to the diverse Latino community throughout the United States and is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Latino Public Broadcasting curates the series VOCES, PBS’s signature Latino arts and culture documentary showcase and the only ongoing national television series devoted to exploring and celebrating the rich diversity of the Latino cultural experience. Between 2009 and 2016, LPB programs have won over 85 awards, including the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award as well as two Emmys, two Imagen Awards and the Sundance Grand Jury Prize. In addition, LPB has been the recipient of the Norman Lear Legacy Award and the NCLR Alma Award for Special Achievement.
About the PBS Online Film Festival
Since its launch in 2012, the PBS Online Film Festival has featured diverse films from PBS member stations and ITVS and POV. Starting July 11, 2016, viewers can once again watch, vote and share their favorites. This year’s festival includes collaborations with a wide variety of public television producers, including the Center for Asian American Media, Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB), National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), Wisconsin Media Lab and Vision Maker Media. The PBS Online Film Festival has attracted more than 1.5 million video streams over the first four years.
About PBS Indies
PBS Indies (pbs.org/indiefilms) is an online destination offering a diverse collection of short and feature length independent films.
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