When it comes to representation and diversity on the screen, festivals have a big responsibility. From selection, screening, and dissemination, their platforms are today — especially during a pandemic — one of the fundamental tools for changing the tone of the visual narrative.
For the Los Angeles International Latino Film Festival (LALIFF), the commitment goes beyond that.
On December 1, the Festival announced the recipients of its first Netflix-sponsored Latinx Inclusion Fellowship Series, created to develop broad and inclusive opportunities for underrepresented groups within the community.
The recipients are filmmaker Lorena Duran, writer/director Justin Floyd, filmmaker Kase Pena, director Monica Suriyage and artist/director Tamara Shogaolu, the organization said in a press release.
Duran is an award-winning filmmaker born in New York and raised in the Dominican Republic. She received an MFA from New York University’s Graduate Film Program and was selected for the 2019 Independent Filmmaking Projects Participation Grant for emerging filmmakers.
Justin Floyd is an Afro-Latino writer and director from Los Angeles, CA. Inland City filmmaker Alumnus landed on the Academy Awards stage in 2015 as part of the Oscar team for his short film “The Center.”
Kase Peñais, an award-winning filmmaker born in New York City She is a trans woman of color, descended from working-class parents in the Dominican Republic. Kase is currently developing a project with the legendary transgender Carmen Carrera and Stephanie Beatriz of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “In The Heights” fame.
Monica Suriyage is a biracial, blassinian, first-generation, Afro-Latino whose direction work is characterized by bold color, strong women, and sometimes blood. Her first short film, “Black In Red Out,” was screened at more than twenty film festivals in the United States and appeared in the documentary “Horror Noire” about the history of black horror alongside icons such as Jordan Peele, Tony Todd, and Rachel True.
Tamara Shogaoluis, the founder and creative director of Ado Ato Pictures With a history of presenting her work at film festivals, galleries, and museums around the world, including the Tribeca Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the National Gallery of Indonesia, her innovative approach to storytelling has led sources such as The Guardian, Forbes magazine, and Vogue to name her a leader in the field of new and immersive media.
“The time is now for diverse voices to have their stories told, and we are proud to be able to offer our fellows the platform to have their voices heard,” said Academy Award-nominated actor and co-founder of LALIFF and the Latino Film Institute, Edward James Olmos.
Each fellow will receive a $20,000 grant to produce a short film, individualized mentoring, one-on-one meetings with industry leaders, as well as several opportunities to expand their network.
Once their films are completed, they will be released as part of LALIFF’s 2021 edition, where the Fellows will also have the opportunity to participate in the festival’s Industry Week, which will allow them to further develop their careers and gain access to the industry as working artists.
Netflix will also offer support to the selected group of grantees during the development of their films.
This year’s mentors include executive producer Alicia Marie Agramonte; director, producer, and writer Jhonny Hendrix Hinestroza; director, producer, and writer Diana Peralta; producer Alicia Saldana and writer/producer Oscar Torres.