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New York Audience Meets with the Works of Acclaimed Dominican Film Directors at City College

March 22, 2013

New York, March 22, 2013

The first edition of the 2013 Dominican Film Showcase Program came to greet the New York public in City College of New York, CUNY on March 21-22, 2013. During this interactive event, GFDD was pleased to present the Dominican Republic under a constructive and engaging light introducing it through the work of accomplished Dominican filmmakers, Fernando Baez, Leticia Tonos and Freddy Vargas. The featured films included;  El Rey de Najayo, Los Rostros Detrás de las Muñecas and La Hija Natural.  In addition, GFDD’s own short film productions of Pico Duarte, Lake Enriquillo: Environmental, Social and Scientific Implications and Globo Verde Winner Armando Larrauri’s film short Turning Our Backs to the Ocean were also on view during the showcase.

The film screenings were set in a form of discussion panels, so that after every screening, the filmmakers took spectators for a behind the scenes look into the topics and production. The discussions centered around questions brought to the fore by the films, such as drugs and vengeance, as portrayed in The King of Najayo / El Rey de Najayo (2012), parents and children, as in Love Child / La Hija Natural (2011), or social wellbeing of Dominican and Latin American workers, as in the documentary The Faces Behind the Dolls/Los Rostros Detrás de las Muñecas. Other questions that the audience enthusiastically posed to our filmmakers Mary Gratereaux and Freddy Vargas during a Masterclass on Los Rostros, were general enquiries about the technical process of shooting a film or what it takes to implement final visionary stages in creating a storyline.

A specific attention during the panel discussions was drawn to the film law introduced in the Dominican Republic several years ago. Implemented under the former president Dr. Leonel Fernandez, the law provides support for both Dominican and foreign film productions. As a result, the law has proved to spur film production in the country, to generate new jobs and to increase opportunities for young Dominican talents who are entering the movie industry. To illustrate, one of the films featured at the event, El Rey de Najayo, is the first Dominican film that was produced under the afore-mentioned law. The audience was extremely pleased to meet the director of the film, Fernando Baez, who, with his movie, takes a strong stance against the situation with drug trafficking and corruption.

The closing night was reserved for heartfelt accolades for Leticia Tonos, director and writer of La Hija Natural, which was selected as the Dominican Republic entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 84th Academy Awards.

Ms. Tonos, a graduate of the London Film School, explained, that all the characters in the film were based on her own observations of the Dominican people and culture and that the movie’s reality-based script drew heavily on everyday language and humor that Dominican audiences could immediately recognize and appreciate. Though not billed as a satire, this authentic take on Dominican life resonated with both Dominican and international audiences alike.
The intensive two-day film showcase was rounded off by networking receptions with the Directors in celebration of the steadily-rising film industry of the Dominican Republic.

In her acknowledgements, director of the GFDD New York Office, Yamile Eusebio, thanked Professor Jerry Carlson who heads the Cinema Studies Program at CCNY, for his unwavering support in bringing the DR Showcase to City College. Ms Eusebio also acknowledged the support of the CUNY Dominican Studies Institute and its trusted team, led by Professor Ramona Hernandez.   Yamile added it was an honor for GFDD and FUNGLODE to have been able to collaborate seamlessly with such effective institutions in an ambitious project which has brought promising results for future film events.

The purpose of Dominican Film Showcase is to share the stories, history and talent of the Dominican Republic with international audiences, through spotlighting a sample of the best films produced in the Dominican Republic by Dominican filmmakers on Dominican topics.