Independent Cinema Finds a Home

Not-So-Foreign Filmmakers Showcase Premieres April 3 on S? TV

Published on LatinoLA: March 25, 2005

Independent Cinema Finds a Home

Hundreds of great independent films are produced every year, but unless you?re in the loop you?d never know it. S? TV, the first English-language Latino network, is about to change that with Not-So-Foreign Filmmakers Showcase, a two-hour window of programming that supports and celebrates the independent spirit found in many Latino and multicultural films.

Realizing the obstacles indie filmmakers face, Jeff Valdez, S? TV?s chairman and co-founder, conceived of Not-So-Foreign Filmmakers Showcase to give Latino and other multicultural filmmakers and actors a venue to present their work.

?There is some amazing talent out there; all they need is exposure,? said Valdez. ?When we launched S? TV we had a mission, to provide relevant programming and to change the way Hollywood does business. Not-So-Foreign is our way of balancing the indie film universe by giving people of color a chance to shine.?

Directed by award-winning indie filmmaker Antonio Negret, Not-So-Foreign Filmmakers Showcase takes a novel and playful approach at presenting its featured films. Besides showcasing popular indie-films and shorts, the show?s wraparounds serve as mini-movies that encapsulate each episode with a singular theme. Some of those themes include coming-of-age stories featuring Robert Rodriguez? first short film Bedhead, magical realism movies including Taino, and immigrant stories such as The Disappeared.

The wraparounds often take on a life of their own as in the episode featuring thriller movies. In that episode Joe Hern?ndez-Kolski, the show?s cheeky host, attempts to kidnap America Ferrera (Real Women Have Curves) who has been evading his interview requests. During the failed kidnap attempt Ferrera turns the tables and ends up kidnapping him instead. Together with her cohort Josefina Lopez (co-writer of Real Women Have Curves) they interrogate him, which defaults into an interview.

This unconventional style often finds Hern?ndez-Kolski?s interviewing guests in the most unusual of places and scenarios from playing Battleship against Jay Hernandez (Ladder 49, Crazy Beautiful), to dancing salsa with Erika Christensen (Traffic, Swimfan) at Sundance, to playing a drinking game with Rick Gonzalez (Coach Carter, Old School).

Unlike any other show on television, Not-So-Foreign Filmmakers Showcase also recognizes and exposes the works of well-established Latino indie-actors like Judy Reyes (Scrubs), Douglas Spain (Star Maps), Nestor Carbonell (Suddenly Susan), and Jose Rivera (Motorcycle Diaries).

?Not-So-Foreign Filmmakers Showcase is an invaluable tool for Latino and multicultural indie filmmakers and actors,? Negret noted. ?Nobody else on TV is providing this type of outlet, which makes working on this show all the more important and gratifying.?

Producers for the show sifted through hundreds of submissions to find the best of the best. Entries were received from film festivals nationally including, the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, Nosotros, New York International Latino Film Festival, while a great number of submissions were received through the network?s website (www.sitv.com).

Negret?s awards include the NALIP audience award for Darkness Minus Twelve featuring America Ferrera, the grand prize at the Renegade Film Festival and the Orinda Film Festival, Best of Fest at AVIFF, and an honorable mention at the St. Petersburg Message to Man Int?l Film Festival.

Host Hern?ndez-Kolski recently performed on the fourth season of HBO?s Def Poetry. Prior to that he toured with ?The Bomb-itty of Errors?, a Hip-Hop version of Shakespeare?s ?The Comedy of Errors,? which won the STAGE Award for ?Best Ensemble? at the 2002 Edinburgh Fringe Theater Festival in Scotland.

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