More than 350 films were submitted to the Brownsville Latino Comics Expo Short Film Awards. The films entertainment, inspired and moved us. We were blown away by the many great films that were submitted to us. The judges faced the difficult task of selecting the films to present at the Expo.
On February 2, The Brownsville Museum of Fine Art had a packed house as people gathered to watch the 11 short films that honored. The films are very diverse and were produced throughout the US and Mexico.
Here is the list of films and their directors that were honored. Congratulations to all the filmmakers.
and i (y yo) – Gabriela Escovar
Baby Grotesque – Daniela Espinosa Reyes
Clean Retirement – Rafael López Vásquez
Echoes of a Tormented Mind – Samuel Z. Leaños
El Que La Persiguen La Consigue – Michael Menchaca
Lucy and Fer – Mirko Olv
The Morphable Man – Jonathan Ostos Yaber
The Sea – Faustino Alanis
Still Love - Alexander Puga & Monica Matute
STRAIN – Reynier Molenaar
Super Lupe – Chloe Caudillo
The Jury Award and the Audience Award were presented by Consul Fernando Javier Valdés Vicencio on behalf of the Consulate of Mexico at Brownsville. The Consulate was a co-sponsor and supporter of the Latino Comics Expo. The winners are:
Jury Award – The Sea directed by Faustino Alanis
Audience Award – Super Lupe directed by Chloe Caudillo
Here is more information on the films and filmmakers that were chosen.
and i (y yo) – Gabriela Escovar – Los Angeles
Synopsis: A reflection on the things one inherits, changes, and leaves behind, as examined through the experiences of a first generation Mexican-American woman looking through her parents’ old family photographs.
Director’s Bio: Gabriela Escovar is an artist and animator currently residing in Valencia, CA, where she is pursuing an MFA in Experimental Animation at CalArts. She draws inspiration for her work from her experiences as a Mexican-American woman.
Director’s Statement: and i feels as if it has been years in the making. As an undergraduate, I attempted to sort through my parents’ old photographs and grappled with the nostalgia of witnessing a life I never experienced, but any projects that began to form felt more like a judgement and resentment of the culture that shaped me, and so they were ultimately abandoned. As I continued to outline the ways in which I was different from my parents, as well as the ways I felt my culture and religion impeded the development of my identity outside of my parents’ rules and my home, I felt a deep disconnection with my culture. I desperately longed, and still do, to belong to the Latinx community and wear the culture on my sleeve, something I never felt comfortable doing as living in the United States continued to call for my assimilation. As a child of immigrants, and as most children of immigrants do, I often struggled with compromising Mexican and American culture, which led to feelings of guilt when some aspects of my Mexican heritage were left behind. As an adult I find myself faced with decisions and choices that I never knew I had - to reclaim an identity I once felt forced to leave behind in order to be independent, to love the culture that made me who I am despite its (and my own) flaws, and to have a say in the way culture and traditions evolve for those that come after me. Ultimately, and i is a love letter to the physical and cultural traits my parents have passed down to me, a reflection on guilt and regret, and a rumination on the decisions I’ve made in my past and those I will make in the future.
Baby Grotesque - Daniela Espinosa Reyes – Mexico City
Synopsis: The peaceful life of a little girl gets interrupted by a disturbing yet charismatic monster. Laughs, tears and limbs get thrown in the name of love.
Director’s Bio: Born 1995 in Mexico City. Always influenced by her country's folklore, Espinosa seeks for the mix of humor, passion and absurdity to tell stories that wonder around her mind. All of this, with a vibrant set of colors just like her country.
Director’s Statement: I'm really proud about being a Mexican artist and I'm welling and excited about showcasing our colors, humor and feelings in every way possible for the world to see.
Clean Retirement – Rafael López Vásquez – Veracruz, Mexico
Synopsis: A man has worked all his life cleaning the offices of an old building. On the day of his retirement, he will face a strange spot on the floor that will be difficult to remove.
Director’s Bio: Engineer in Systems and Computers, Student of Languages, Independent Journalist, Producer, Editor and Audiovisual Auteur. His film career has been developed thanks to collaborations with film enthusiasts since 2008. The shortfilm Clean Retirement is the first of a series made as a Student of the mexican filmmaker Ricardo Benet (New from Afar, Nomads).
Director’s Statement: Clean Retirement is inspired by the compulsive cleaning disorder developed by an obsession with cleaning spaces. This disorder can appears in people that has been working on clean departments for long time. I imagined the case of a old man facing his last day of work and finding a strange spot on the floor that is really difficult to remove. It is interesting to decode what the spot represents. I want to provoke the audience and make them think about why the spot is there, what is the spot and why the man remains next to the spot. I hope you like this tribute to one of my influences, the twilight zone.
Echoes of a Tormented Mind – Samuel Z. Leaños – United States
Synopsis: A woman looking for some rest in a hotel is haunted by a spirit entity.
Director's Bio: Samuel Z. Leaños was born and raised in Zacatecas, México. he studied Theatre and Film in UTRGV (Formerly known as UTPA). Samuel enjoys making films of all genres - from Sci-Fi, such as"Marionettes, Inc" to romantic comedies like "Linguini's Ristorante." He works with screenwriter Silvia Vera (Veracruz, México). They are award winners and participants of several film races at the CineSol Film Festival. Samuel is looking forward to what creativity brings.
El Que La Persiguen La Consigue - Michael Menchaca – San Antonio
Synopsis: This digital animation focuses on border patrol agents as they close in on narco traffickers along an undisclosed desert highway.
Director’s Bio: Menchaca was born and raised in San Antonio, TX. He earned his MFA in Printmaking from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2015. His videos have been featured at a number of museums and institutions including: The Contemporary Austin-Laguna Gloria, Austin, TX; The Crystal Bridges Museum of Art, Bentonville, AR; and the Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK. He has attended artist residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Vermont Studio Center, and was a ’15-’16 Visual Arts Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA. He currently lives and works in San Antonio, TX.
Lucy and Fer – Mirko Olv – Mexico City
Synopsis: Quite a peculiar friendship between a little girl named Fernanda and this odd goat who was given the name of Lucy. The friendship became stronger just because of a well-made sandwich given every single day at recess at school for a full year. As we know, school can be the best time of our lives; beautiful, unforgettable and sadly, rough for Little Fernanda. Add to this, the teacher isn´t quite in her side. Fer decides that is better to have Lucy the goat closer, but you may soon tell that Lucy can be a powerful ally. A defender that will never allow someone hurt her sandwich provider. A simple story about the nature of human beings and the pure nature of evil.
Director’s Bio: My name is Mireya, but friends call me Mirko. I am a multimedia designer, illustrator, cartoonist and beer lover. After I got my bachelor degree, I wanted to keep drawing for the rest of my life, so I keep tracking every single course, workshop or diploma about traditional animation and illustration. That’s when I found out about VFS in Vancouver, Canada. Those poor instructors had me for a year and 4 months. Hell was unleashrf and creativity was potentially increased. Although I have been judged for touching dark themes and turning almost everything into a dark humor, I have never let that stop me. It just encourages me to keep going darker and funnier.
Director’s Statement: Quite a peculiar friendship between a little girl and this odd goat. The friendship became stronger just because of a well-made sandwich in every single recess at school. As we know, the school can be the best time of our lives; memorable, unforgettable and rough for many of us just because children can be cruel. Not because someone is different; they can be mean. Teachers can prevent this, ignore the situation or worse; they actually participate in the cruelty. So here is the question that is always bothering the victim, why? In my story, I just show a simple deliberation, silly with a devilish humor but simple. If the devil´s nature is actually being EVIL, what is humanity's excuse??? When did we lose our humanity???
The Morphable Man – Jonathan Ostos Yaber – Mexico
Synopsis: A man tries to hide a condition that makes him transform into random objects depending on his emotions. But after a series of events his unique ability goes out to the public and he will have to deal with the consequences and where it all comes from.
Director’s Bio: Multi award-winning director, writer and producer of film and animation. With his short films he has participated in more than 300 festivals around the world including SXSW, Cannes, Morelia, Huesca, Edinburgh, Annecy, Berlin, GIFF, Short Shorts Film Festival, among many others, in addition to being recognized with numerous awards including the SIMONA GESMUNDO granted by the Italian Animation Academy, UNESCO and a nomination for the Hollywood Film Awards.
Director’s Statement: The main idea for the film is to tell a new type of story about self-acceptance and emotional intelligence, illustrated through the combination of animation and live action. The Morphable Man is a project that examines the possibilities that each one of us has to be transformed by our emotions and changes depending on the relationships we have, love and friendship, and every single event we experience throughout our lives, all of that mixed with the transformative power of music. It doesn't matter how many times you fall in love and fall out of it, you always go back, no matter how crazy, painful, intense or strong it was, and in every single new "inspiration" you have a new opportunity to be better in any level, to let yourself go and to be transformed. Just like music, every new song or album you hear is an opportunity to fall in love and "morph" into anything you can imagine. That inspiration is what makes a true "Morphable Man" possible. So the question is – how many times have you been transform by love?
The Sea – Faustino Alanis – Monterrey, Mexico
Synopsis: A young boy searches at the sea a way to bring happiness back to his home.
Director’s Bio: Faustino Alanis: Born and raised in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, studied advertising and communications at Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon (UANL), after graduating from college, he enter Cinema School of Monterrey (ILUMINA) for 2 years. In November 2014 he attended to VALPARAISO LAB, which brings together audiovisual professionals with the challenge of making a short film during a residency of two weeks at Valparaiso, Chile, where he made his first short film called MAR. Then he just atended an event called Kinoctambul, another film lab in France where he finish his second short film called Solitud.
Dierctor's Statement: Two experiences set the course of this shortfilm called “MAR”. First the death of my father when i was six years old, a very traumatic experience to me and my hole family. Then I had the opportunity to live with both of my “abuelas”. it was a very incredible experience, I was filled with their wisdom and love all those years. But life goes by in the blink of an aye and they pasted away. I felt very lonely. The only thing I had to express my pain was the language of cinema. This is where an adventure called MAR begins. In November 2015 I attended to VALPARAISO LAB, which brings together audiovisual professionals with the challenge of making a short film during a residency of two weeks at Valparaiso, Chile. I was given the chance to direct my first Short. Mar talks about the relationship between humans and death. And nobody like the Latino community to understand this relationship. We are fighters, Strong fighters. we see death very different in our culture, we are a very spiritual people. No matter the adversities, we always look for a way to get the best out of us. Mar is a gift to heaven for my two “abuelas” y mi “Padre”. Gracias Marion, Maria Luisa y Faustino. Las extraño mucho.
Still Love – Alexander Puga & Monica Matute – Miami
Synopsis: After attending constant unsuccessful therapy sessions, Sarah struggles to understand why she would be forced by her parents to get help over a relationship her sister had. She later discovers the truth as to why her sister got sent away while she was sent to get help.
Directors’ Bios: Monica Matute and Alexander Puga are high school filmmakers from Miami, Florida. Creating films for over a year now, their pieces have gone to win Festivals and Competitions including: Young Arts, All American High School Film Festival, Florida Scholastic Press Association, and the Student Television Network convention. They are a duo that writes, shoots and edits their films.
STRAIN – Reynier Molenaar – Santa Monica
Synopsis: STRAIN follows two survivors of the zombie apocalypse who must travel across ground zero -- an abandoned Los Angeles -- to deliver important biological samples. BRIDE is a battle-weary and jaded warrior who has lost everyone and given up on people. CHRIS is a struggling optimist who is desperate for anyone he could call a friend. When the mismatched pair discover they are being hunted, they must join forces to save their lives -- and their humanity.
Director’s Bio: Reynier Molenaar is an international award-winning film director. Recent collaborations include J.Lo, Metallica, Disney, Warner Bros., Fox Searchlight, TBS and IMAX. Born in Spanish Harlem and raised in the South Bronx, Reynier worked his way into the New York film scene by specializing in narrative and visual storytelling, often writing his own creative and supervising visual effects on his productions. Notable works include his original branded short for Disney’s OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL, winner of the Western Region Director’s Award; the music video LAUNDROMAT for Hotel Eden, winner at Oaktown Music Fest; the short film REPLAY, which won 5 awards, screened at 16 festivals and premiered on television through PBS; and his short film STRAIN, selected for 12 festivals and winner of Best Horror Film at the Official Latino Shorts Fest. Reynier has also directed campaigns with such greats as Metallica, Jennifer Lopez, Chris Rock, Greg Kinnear, Wilmer Valderrama, Mario Lopez, Yesi Ortiz, Justin Long, Ginnifer Goodwin and Steve Carell, to name a few. His clients include Disney, TBS, TNT, Warner Bros, NUVOtv, Converse, Current TV, VEVO, and IMAX, among others. You can find his work featured in ADWEEK, NOTCOT, LESTERBANKS and INDIEWIRE. Reynier began his studio career with Fox Searchlight Pictures, where he produced original content for LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, Richard Linklater’s FAST FOOD NATION, Timur Bekmambetov’s DAY WATCH, NOTES ON A SCANDAL, THE NAMESAKE, Danny Boyle’s SUNSHINE, and over 20 other feature films.
Super Lupe – Chloe Caudillo – Chicago
Synopsis: When a superhuman threat enters the building, Lupe, the shy cleaning lady, takes action.
Director’s Bio: Chloe Caudillo is a Chicago-based writer, director, and filmmaker with family roots in Brownsville, TX. Chloe is a student at Second City's Harold Ramis Film School. Chloe is a member of ALTA, the Alliance of Latinx Theater Artists of Chicago, and the Chicago-based comedy group Generation Latinx. She has trained at The Second City, Annoyance and iO theaters. She writes, films and cuts the content on her YouTube channel, Coco Loca Productions.
Director’s Statement: I wanted to flip the script on the superhero genre and tell a new kind of story. Super Lupe, the character, is inspired by my mother, Maria "La Reyna," and mi abuelita, Aurora.