Disney’s First Latina Princess Will Debut This Summer

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Yes you read that right. Disney has a new princess they are debuting this summer, her name is Elena and she will be the franchise’s first official Latina princess. The Latina Disney princess first made headlines in 2015 when Disney announced that they were adding a new princess.

The news of a new Latina princess came years after the release of princess Sofia of ‘Sofia The First’ who was initially thought to be Disney’s first Latina princess. Disney took a lot of heat for it because many Latinas felt they did not identify with Sofia appearance wise who was fair-skinned with a red-auburn hair color.

This is a ground breaking move for Disney as once again they are expanding their brand as culturally diverse. The story will focus on princess Elena’s journey as a young heiress to throne and learning all she needs to know pertaining to her culture and kingdom.

Actress Aimee Carrero a Latina of Dominican heritage, voices the first Latina princess for Disney and could not be more proud. “By introducing a heroine whose background resembles their own — whose brown locks and brown eyes look like theirs — young girls can now properly identify with a princess.” Carrero said following a statement she made that it was a little harder for young Latinas to identify with the blonde hair blue-eyed Elsa in the mega-hit Frozen because they look nothing like her. Continuing her clear expression of pride she went on to say “They can quite literally see themselves in this new character of Elena, and that is monumental.”

Disney has been promoting and preparing for the launch of princess Elena Of Avalor this summer. She has her own series coming out soon in the earlier part of the summer, princess Elena dolls were released in February, and Princess Elena will debut in Disney parks in the later part of the summer to early fall.

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Sesame Street Has a New Latina In Town

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Sesame Street welcomes a new Latina character to the iconic children’s show and her name is Nina. The character is the latest in a number of new faces added to the long running children’s program. Nina is a college student working several jobs to fund her education. She is able to pay for school working at the shop, laundromat, and babysitting Elmo.

The young Latina character is bilingual and “uses her wit, compassion and charisma to help the furry residents of Sesame Street solve their daily dilemmas, providing a positive role model for preschoolers,” according to the Sesame Workshop.

“Sesame Street is constantly evolving and has a long-standing history of modeling a diverse community,” as stated on the character description for the official site. “As producers took note of changing demographics in the United States, it was important to represent this diversity in the new addition to the cast.”

Nina is portrayed by 26-year-old Miami born Cuban-American actress Miamian Suki Lopez who is no stranger to diversity in her life and filled with pride to represent Latinas in her role as Nina. “Its funny-you’re so proud to be Latina. I’ve never met somebody who’s so proud” Lopez recalled in a phone conversation with New Times. Lopez responded politely with confusion “Why wouldn’t I be?”

The Cuban-American hopes her Latin pride is clearly seen on the show. “I want to make sure that [my acting] comes cross that I’m proud to be Latina and [that if you’re Hispanic] you should be too,” Lopez said, according to the News Times. Lopez joined the cast for the 46th season. The new addition follows the departure of the beloved first Latina character Maria who exit in 2015 during the 45th season after being on Sesame Street for 44 years.

Clinical Psychologist Dr. Angelica Perez-Litwin who created the petition for Sesame Street to have a college attending Latina on the show said this when speaking of the positive affect it could have “a great opportunity to highlight a millenial Latina who is pursuing a college or graduate degree, or who’s running her own business.” Dr Perez-Litwin believes sending Nina to college will inspire an entire generation of children to do the same.

You can watch Suki Lopez as Nina on Sesame Street daily on PBS’s KLRN at 1pm and on HBO/HBO Latino Sundays at 9am.

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`La Musica es Sentimientos’

New York is the central location for performing arts. Many musicians seek the opportunity to have their talents shine with the rest of the city.

Last semester I was honored to be on-stage as assistant camera operator with Arturo O’ Farril–legend, and composer of Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra. BCTV filmed this event in April in Brooklyn College’s very own Whitman Theater.

Brooklyn presents another well known musician, Fernando Knopf, who is  Argentinean and Israli. Knopf is a well known composer and educator who will bring his Jazz talent to East Midwood Jewish Center which is located on 1625 Ocean Avenue Brooklyn New York. Saturday November 21st Knopf will present his latest compositions from his newest album titled “La Musica es Sentimientos” translated to “Music are Feelings.”

If you’re close to the Brooklyn area and are a lover of Jazz, why not check out Fernando Knopf work. Tickets are being sold on EventBrite New York Latin Music Events page.

‘The Warriors’ Cast Are Coming Back Out To Play In Coney Island

MV5BMTM5NjE1MzYxOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDYzODYwOQ@@._V1_SX640_SY720_Some of the cast from the cult classic, “The Warriors” are returning back to their old stomping grounds 34 years later to star in “Vamp Bikers.” The independent film centers around today’s all too popular vampire theme and is set in Coney Island.

Premiering in Manhattan at the Anthony Film Archives on Wednesday night, the film features three familiar faces from 1979’s  ‘Warriors.’ Actors Dorsey Wright, Brian Tyler, and Apache Ramos join writer and director Eric Rivas for his second project.

Rivas first film, “Lost in Coney Island,” won first place at the Coney Island Film Festival. The New York “nuyorican” said he integrates specific aspects of New York culture into “Vamp Diaries.”

The film features a fight scene with Wright and Tyler. The two veteran stunt actors were trained to act during all of their famous challenging fight scenes in ‘The Warriors.”

Revolving around a biker town that becomes infested with vampires, ‘Vamp Bikers’ hopes to bring in as much success as the actors’ and director’s previous works.

photo courtesy of: IMDb.com

Gotham Independent Film Awards Hosts a Freewheeling Crowd

billThe annual Gotham Independent Film Awards celebrated its 23rd year this Monday, honoring the film making community and the organization that make these films possible. Thanks to the Independent Filmmakers Project, over 20,000 of films have been brought into fruition from the resources provided by the group. Presented by IFP, the ceremony kicked off the awards season at New York’s Cipriani Wall Street, leading to speculation about the upcoming races.

Bringing together hundreds of famous, important people from the film industry, Cipriani was notoriously abuzz. So abuzz that director Lee Daniels had to publicly sush the crowd while he presented a tribute speech to The Butler star Forest Whitaker. Not the only presenter to reprimand the crowd the spotlight for the award winning films was redirected towards the rowdy crowd.

In a surprising twist, best feature did not go to 12 years a slave, but to the Cohen Brothers Inside Llewyn Davis, a folk music drama. Other winners included Fruitvale Station, Dallas Buyers Club, and the documentary, The Act of Killing.

Director and actor Steve Buscemi paid his respects to the recently deceased James Gandolfini. “I did not know the meaning of intimidated until those first few takes, and I felt as a director obligated to say something. … Jimmy was very gracious and patient with me. Tony Soprano did not come easy to him. He couldn’t just turn it on and off, but when he got there it was incredible.” Buscemi directed Gandolfini on The Sopranos and co-starring next to him in independent films like Romance & Cigarettes and his latest work, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.

Other important industry leaders were recognized throughout the night that included Before Midnight director Richard Linklater and Made in New York media and entertainment commissioner, Katherine Oliver.

Below is the full list of Monday night’s winners:

Best Feature:
Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Documentary:
The Act of Killing

Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award:
Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station)

Best Actor:
Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)

Best Actress:
Brie Larson (Short Term 12)

Breakthrough Actor:
Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station)

Audience Award:
Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings

photo courtesy of gotham.ifp.com

The Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You Is Being Played at a Theater Near You

95478The Independent Film Project, Filmmaker Magazine, and the Museum of Modern Art join forces for the seventh annual “Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You” series from Nov 15th through the 18th. On display at the MoMA, the series features the best five films from the festival circuit that have yet to be picked up and shown in public theaters.

Chosen by the higher ups at the staff of Filmmaker, as well as assistant curator in the MoMA’s department of film, Sophie Cavoulacos , these five films will compete for the title of best film.

In an announcement revealing the five nominees for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near you,  Filmmaker editor Scott Macaulay said, “To select our five titles, we solicited recommendations from festival directors, surveyed our own viewing and curated five films currently without distribution deals, theatrical or small screen. They span films that premiered at Sundance as well as smaller regional or genre festivals, fiction films and documentary, and (relatively) straightforward narratives to experimental hybrids.”

The films being shown are: Eddie Mullins’ Doomsdays; Kevin Jerome Everson’s The Island of St. Matthews; Eliza Hittman’s It Felt Like Love; Aaron Douglas Johnston’s My Sister’s Quinceanera and Benjamin Greené’s Survival Prayer.

Located in MoMA’s Roy and Niuta Titus Theater 2 a Q & A will follow the selected screening of the film.

Watch the trailer below for Eliza Hittman’s critically acclaimed film, It Felt Like Love, playing at the MoMA Friday November 15th and Sunday November 17th:

photo courtesy of MoMA.org

New York State Spends Big Money For Its Film Industry

introMore than ever, when strolling down a cobble stone street in Soho, pedestrians face large trailers and tents sheltering celebrities and snacks. For New Yorkers, maneuvering around these obstacles, seems like a frequent occurrence. Whether in lower Manhattan or in north Brooklyn, the flood of film making in New York City doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

With a whopping $420 million doled out to the New York film industry it’s no wonder that hundreds of movies and Television series have chosen the city for it’s setting.

According to records obtained by the Gannet Albany Bureau, New York has proven to be a leader in offering tax breaks for the industry. If centered in the city, certain films and shows, like HBO’s Sex and the City, and NBC’s Saturday Night Live, reap the benefits, granting exemptions for their contributions to the city.

Contributions that include the creation of jobs and stimulation of the economy are the driving factors in the huge breaks, though some argue that like the actual movie making that’s happening this week on Greene St, jobs are temporary.

Since taking office in 2011, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has drastically radicilized the industry in New York. With over 400 projects taking advantage of the state’s tax credits, Cuomo believes that this growth in film will add $2.2 billion to our economy as well as create 126, 150 new jobs.feature1

“We’ve created thousands of new jobs and generated billions of dollars in economic activity through the thriving film and television industries,” Cuomo said when discussing the benefits of the 30% tax credit program.

The Democrat and Chronicle reported that this program has been extended for five years though now the agency is required to make public how much money is going to each project.

While much of this money goes towards big productions like Law and Order and Hollywood blockbusters like Man on the Ledge, the list showing projects that received tax breaks, did include more independent films and shows.

View the list The Democrat and Chronicle posted.