The Youth Cinema Project Maintains its Commitment to Education in Times of Coronavirus

Youth Cinema BELatina Latinx
The team behind “Gentefied” — from left, America Ferrera, Linda Yvette Chávez, Monica Macer and Marvin Lemus — at the corner of Cesar E. Chavez and Townsend avenues in East Los Angeles.(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Resilience to the coronavirus pandemic has emerged in all spheres.

Between students attending digital classes and parents homeschooling their children, our communities have used every tool at hand to keep things as normal as possible.

The Latino Film Institute has also joined the initiative.

According to a press release, the organization has scheduled live reading sessions of students’ film scripts from its Youth Cinema Project 2020.

“YCP introduces elementary, middle, and high school students to the art of filmmaking and bridges the achievement and opportunity gaps by creating lifelong learners and the entertainment industry’s multicultural future,” said the institute, which has advocated, since its founding in 1997, for the inclusion of diverse voices in artistic creation.

“As schools across Los Angeles and the country continue to close for the remainder of the school year, many students are relying on virtual classrooms and distance learning during these difficult times. We felt it was our responsibility to do something to support those efforts,” explains Olmos, founder of the Latino Film Institute and YCP.  “We thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to engage and excite the next generation by asking professional actors to join us in helping our students continue their education by reading the film scripts they have worked so hard on over the past year. The YCP students may not be able to finish filming their scripts this year, but they will get the chance to see them come to life.”

The program will include scripts such as The Lottery Ticket read by JJ Soria, Carlos Santos, Laura Patalano, and Alex Patiño from Gentefied. “So happy to be a part of #YCPLiveReads because I know it’s going to make these kids smile to hear their stories out loud,” said Soria in a statement. 

Chelsea Rendon of Vida will be reading from Kayla’s Got it Under Control along with her costars Mishel Prada, Roberta Colindrez, Luis Bordonada, Tonatiuh, and Karen Sours from Vida. “I can’t imagine how the kids feel getting their projects shut down,” Rendon told YCP. “I have visited YCP classrooms and know some of these kids and I’m so glad we can breathe a little life into their stories. This shows them you can’t let anything hold you back, when there is a will there’s a way!”

Those are just two of the scripts written by burgeoning, young screenwriters; there are so many projects — and casts — to look forward to seeing through YCP’s live reading sessions.. “We were overwhelmed by the response we got from the Hollywood Latinx community,” said Rafael Agustín, YCP’s Executive Director. “To have this amazing group of talent read material crafted by students in our program will definitely create a huge impact in their learning, while at the same time showing the importance of having diverse voices in storytelling.” 

Founded by Edward James Olmos, Marlene Dermer, Kirk Whisler and George Hernandez, the Latino Film Institute has been recognized as a platform for showcasing such talents as Guillermo del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón, Alejandro G. Iñarritu, Pablo Larrain, Gina Rodríguez and America Ferrera.