24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Latino

Oscar nominations 2012: Life keeps getting 'Better' for Demián Bichir

January 24, 2012 | 12:02 pm


Demian bichir

For Demián Bichir, star of "A Better Life," life keeps getting better and better.

The Mexican actor, best known to U.S. audiences as the wily Tijuana sheriff Esteban Reyes on Showtime's "Weeds," on Tuesday received an Oscar lead actor nomination to match the Screen Actors Guild nomination in the same category that he picked up several weeks ago.

"It was a great sign, and I think it was a gift," Bichir said of the SAG recognition. The Oscar nod, he said, "is really beyond any imagination."

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In Chris Weitz's drama, Bichir plays a hard-working East L.A. gardener, an undocumented immigrant who’s doggedly pursuing the American dream while struggling to raise his teenage son. Bichir himself  immigrated to the United States some 20 years ago to pursue English-language roles. He already was an established Mexican film and television leading man when he crossed the border to work in New York and Hollywood.

Bichir is one of only a handful of Mexican actors and actresses to have scored Oscar nominations, including Anthony Quinn for "Zorba the Greek" (1964) and Salma Hayek for Julie Taymor's 2002 bio-pic "Frida" about painter Frida Kahlo.

"There always are good roles for Latinos. Unfortunately, most of them are part cliche and characters that are just too obvious for any Latino actor to play," such as gangsters, drug dealers, thieves and prostitutes, Bichir said.

Despite the obvious relevancy of its subject matter to Mexican audiences, "A Better Life" has not been widely distributed in Mexico. "As weird as it sounds, a lot of people don't know about the film in Mexico," he said. 

But Tuesday morning, the Mexican media were on the phone en masse besieging Bichir. Could it get any better?


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 -- Reed Johnson

Photo: Demián Bichir in "A Better Life." Credit: Summit Entertainment

N.Y. Latino Film Festival combats stereotypes in ad campaign

August 9, 2011 | 11:20 am

The 12th annual New York International Latino Film Festival (Aug. 15-21) has launched a clever, provocative ad campaign to combat Hollywood stereotypes and the blockbuster mentality, and to remind viewers that there's lots more to contemporary Latino cinema than just Pepe the valet guy and Lupe the maid.

The campaign includes graphics and video, designed in English and Spanish by the Wing marketing and communications agency, and takes several well-aimed jabs at ethnic cliches. One poster, depicting a lineup of silhouetted women's high heels and a single toilet scrubber, underneath is the cheeky setup line, "When a Latina housekeeper meets an attractive businessman in a movie," followed by the two possible outcomes: "They live happily ever after" or "She remains a housekeeper."

Another depicts four garden rakes measuring, in descending order, the popularity of names of gardeners in movies: Jose, Ramon, Juan and Steve.

Wing says the campaign also is intended to draw attention to the relative scarcity of Latino and Latin American actors in mainstream U.S. movies.

As for the festival itself, it will open with the animated feature "Chico & Rita" and close with a 40th anniversary screening of a remastered print of director Leon Gast's concert film classic "Our Latin Thing" (Nuestra Cosa), filmed at the Cheetah Club in New York City and featuring the Fania All-Stars. 

Among the festival's other attractions will be the premieres of "White Knight," with Hector Jimenez, Stacy Keach and Tom Sizemore, and "Magic City Memoirs," about three privileged Miami private-school friends suddenly confronting their hometown's darker social realities.


Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival lands in Hollywood

Mexican stars chasing the Hollywood dream

'La Reina Del Sur' pursues Primetime Emmy consideration

-- Reed Johnson

Image: Wing


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