Within the confines of filmmaking stand talented and poignant Latino acts that tell stories of triumph, failure and virtue. While there’s been growth with women and African-American representation, Latinos are still pushing their reels up a craggy hill.
Thankfully, the landscape has been looking better with time. Directors like Alejandro González Iñárritu (The Revenant), Alfonso-Cuarón Orozco (Gravity), and Robert Rodriguez (Desperado) have created a wide, award-winning variety of films, while actors like Gina Rodriguez (Jane The Virgin), Tyler Posey (Teen Wolf) and Gael Garciá Bernal (Mozart In The Jungle) effortlessly own the small and large screens. It’s a unity that would make unknown legends like Myrtle Gonzalez and Beatriz Michelena proud, and inspire The 2nd Annual Official Latino Short Film Festival.
The event, which took place in Harlem, NY over the weekend, showcased over 80 films from men and women filmmakers. Founded by visual icon Danny Hastings, audiences laughed and cried while watching flicks about gun violence, LGBTQ identities and coming-of-age stories that fuse Latino culture with the American Dream.
Miami’s Jokes Yanes’ short film Toyed perfectly introduces audiences to the city’s graffiti scene and rise of hip-hop in the early ’90s. Partially based on his life experiences, the film’s raw energy and solid ode to the genre leaves you wanting more. Jeffery Wahlberg stars as Kerst, a high school junior whose passion for graffiti becomes his American Dream, as violence takes over the streets. Wahlberg’s demand for respect begins with a mysterious rival and ends with those who have pushed the art into a corner in hip-hop’s sanctuary. Toyed provides the backstory to the feature film Local Crew, which Yanes and writer J. Bishop are currently working on.
Speaking with VIBE VIVA, Yanes and Bishop share how hip-hop saved their lives, creating Toyed, and the importance of Latino minds in filmmaking. Check out our exclusive interview in the gallery above.