New Puerto Rican Cinema: Emerging Filmmakers



Fri, September 28, 2018

6:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT


King Juan Carlos I Center

53 Washington Sq S


New York, NY 10012


NYU’s Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, King Juan Carlos I of Spain Center, and the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, present a conversation with the creators of groundbreaking Puerto Rican films, El silencio del viento (The Silence of the Wind; 2017), El Chata (The Sparrow; 2017), and Antes que cante el gallo (Before the Rooster Crows; 201). Introduced by Licia Fiol-Matta (NYU Department of Spanish and Portuguese) and moderated by Jennifer Duprey (Rutgers University Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies), students and the academic community at NYU will have the opportunity to dialogue with the directors, some of the actors, screenwriters, sound designers, and producers of these films.

About the filmmakers and films:

Álvaro Aponte-Centeno began his career making television documentaries for the Puerto Rican public television channel, in which he served as editor, cinematographer and director. He has received the Best National Director award and Best Short Film award three times at the Puerto Rico International Short Film Festival. His second Short Film My Holy Gaze was the official selection in competition at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2012. The same year he was also part of the official selection in competition at the Melbourne International Film Festival, Australia; Stockholm International Film Festival; International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana, and the Hong Kong International Film Festival. The film El silencio del viento was selected to participate in a Sundance Workshop Lab for emergent screenwriters and directors, in Los Angeles, the II Workshop Cinematic Project of Central America & Caribbean in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where he won first prize for his film developing. With this same project, he was selected to participate in the co-production section of the San Sebastian International Film Festival 2014, and the comeback to the same festival where he participated in Film in Progress (closed competition for films in post-production) 2016. He also won an important French prize, the Aide Aux Cinema du Monde and Doha Film Institute to do all the post-production in Paris, France 2017. El silencio del viento was awarded with the prize for Best Film at the Argentinian Film Festival in Mar del Plata. It has also been showed at the Cinélatino Rencontres de Toulouse, 22 Festival de Cine de Lima-Perú, Munich Film Festival, Festival Internacional del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano-Habana, Festival de Cine Global Dominican, Reflets du cinéma ibérique et latino-américain, Curaçao International Film Festival Rotterdam, and Festival de Cine Europeo in Puerto Rico.


Together with his sister Carmen, Rafael is part of a human trafficking network that helps move fortune seekers to Puerto Rico. Regional refugees from the poverty-stricken Dominican Republic, but also illegal migrants from faraway Africa are temporarily given food and shelter at Rafael’s aging mother’s home. The well-oiled machine is thrown out of whack when Carmen dies suddenly. Rafael doesn’t have the time to mourn because life goes on. Full boats arrive, phones keep ringing and Rafael’s teenage daughter needs attention too. “Puerto Rico’s beautiful landscapes contrast markedly with the tragedies of human trafficking victims. The bone-tired hopelessness, fear and uncertainty of Rafael’s ‘contraband’ is tangible. In his debut film, Álvaro Aponte-Centeno depicts a humane, yet no less dramatic side of the global immigration crisis.” – Curaçao Film Festival-Rotterdam.

Arí Maniel Cruz studied screenwriting in Mexico City. His independent feature film Under My Nails opened in October 2011 at the San Juan International Film Festival in Puerto Rico with its world premiere winning the Special Jury Award and the Best Actress Award. In addition the film had great success at the 2011 Havana Film Festival in Cuba. Starting January 2012, Under my Nails (2012 went on a Film Festival Tour that included San Diego, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, Dominican Republic, as well as Toulouse and Marseille in France, Brussels, Geneva, Guatemala, Caracas, Cleveland and some others. The Film won the Best US Picture Award at the HBO New York International Latino Film Festival. The Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts & Sciences and the Cleveland International Film Festival selected Arí Maniel to a special showcase for directors called Focus on Latino Filmmakers. Antes que cante el gallo (2016) won the Yellow Robin Award, was official selection of various film festivals including the Rotterdam International Film Festival.


After her mother heads for Florida with her boyfriend, Carmín (Miranda Purcell) is left to stay with her grandmother (Cordelia González) in Barranquitas, a mountainous village in central Puerto Rico. The old woman is strict, and the rebellious Carmín is miserable until her father, Rubén (José Eugenio Hernández) returns from prison – but his arrival creates unusual complications in this compelling coming-of-age drama. “Ari Maniel Cruz’s distinctive treatment, fusing strong, earthy performances, particularly from the young lead, intense atmospherics, and a frankly bizarre background, add up to a quietly evocative whole.” – Jonathan Holland, The Hollywood Reporter.

Gustavo Ramos Perales studied film direction and production at Septima Ars in Madrid, Spain. In Madrid he directed two short films in 16mm: Negro and Frame. Among other videoclips, and videoarts his experimental video proposal, Madrid, gets him selected to the Gijon Film Festival. Back in Puerto Rico, Gustavo produces and edits En la malla, a TV mini series for public television. The series was also aired through various television channels around the United States. (New York, Miami and Chicago). In 2016, he wins the Puerto Rico Film Commission national competition to produce and direct his first feature film El Chata. El Chata was nominated for the Yellow Robin Award at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. The film was official selection of the Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival, was showed in Argentina at the Festival de Cine de Tucumán and Spain at the Festival Internacional de Cine de Calatrava were Ramos Perales won the award for Best Director.


Although Samuel has what it takes to be a boxing champion, he seems destined to receive blows like a punching bag. Now, at thirty, he has no choice but to become a sparring partner because nobody is willing to give him a chance. Even Joe, his former coach, who is training a new prospect, decides to put Samuel to the test. Unable to feed his family and with temptations all around him, all Samuel thinks about is getting back in the ring to prove to himself and to everybody else that his time in prison has changed him, that he is reformed and determined to win back his family and his son’s affection. Back in the old neighborhood once again, however, he learns the hard way that a fresh start won’t be so easy, that he has no choice but to keep his gloves on at all times. While the possibility of migrating seems to offer an opportunity to be reborn, Samuel knows that no matter where you go, the neighborhood is always within you. “In El Chata, by Gustavo Ramos Perales, boxing is the mirror that reflects the hardness of the social context of the urban margins in Puerto Rico. The film reveals part of the social reality of the island and denounces it through a visually striking and emotive cinematographic composition.” –Jennifer Duprey, 80 grados

This event is free and open to the public. ID is required to access the building. The conversation will be held in English.

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