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Night of Laughs with “Los paracaidistas” and Cheddy García at the Opening of the Dominican Film Showcase in Washington, DC

November 20, 2015

This year the Dominican Film Showcase in Washington, DC could not have had a better opening night. A hundred minutes of pure laughter followed by a pleasant conversation with one of the most famous Dominican comedians and a cocktail reception for new and old friends of the GFDD. The film was “Los paracaidistas,” directed by Archie López, starring the charismatic, award-winning actress Cheddy García, straight from the Dominican Republic for the occasion.

The Art Museum of the Americas was the venue, and a full house, of an entertaining evening that inaugurated the Dominican Film Showcase in Washington DC, which runs until Saturday, November 21st. This year’s Film Showcase in the nation’s capital is featuring three Dominican films: the comedy, “Los paracaidistas”, the documentary, “Yo soy la salsa”, and an action film, “Código Paz.”

On opening night, executive director of the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD), Natasha Despotovic, welcomed a diverse audience and explained that the Dominican Film Showcase contributes to the distribution of the best contemporary films being made in the Dominican Republic by Dominican filmmakers about Dominican issues. “In its mission to promote knowledge and appreciation of Dominican culture, as well as help distribute the work of Dominican filmmakers on an international scale, we collaborate with various institutions around the world and create opportunities for an ever-widening audience to enjoy this art form, become familiar with Dominican culture and speak with filmmakers,” stressed Ms. Despotovic.

Following the film, Cheddy García, accompanied by Natasha Despotovic, had a lively conversation with the audience in which she revealed the details of the film’s production and talked about her acting career. She explained that there was “great chemistry” among the four main actors in the movie. “We worked with love; it is a movie that had to be funny, had to show cheerful characters. It is part of the Dominican nature: we are innovative, daring, and we break barriers,” she said to a delighted audience.
Ms. García also spoke about being a female comedian and the barriers she had to break to be considered equal to male comedians. “Last year was a historic milestone because I managed to reach the same salary level as my male colleagues. It was very controversial in the DR, but I managed. I have now made three films under this new standard.”

Asked by one of her fans about her favorite genre, Ms. García said: “I am passionate about art and I put all my heart into it, but what most fulfills me is film. With film, very much like literature, you achieve transcendence, be a part of history. Cinema immortalizes one.”

She also talked about the Dominican Film Law and the benefits it has brought to the industry. “It is incredible the number of films being made in the country. We even have international directors who are coming to live in the Dominican Republic because of the excellent conditions for making movies.”

Melisa Mena, from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), was in the audience and commented during the Q&A: “I could really identify with many of the things that happened in the film. I felt very well represented and I am proud, as a Dominican, of the quality of the new film industry in my country.”

Speaking about the GFDD Dominican Film Showcase, Ms. Mena said: “It is a good initiative for two reasons: Dominicans living abroad often miss the opportunity to appreciate Dominican art and to have places like this where we can consume our own products. But I also think that internationally, we are opening doors to other people and cultures.”

Rafael Polonia said: “I loved the film. I had so much fun; it reminded me so much of my country. I love the idea that this Film Showcase connects our culture to Dominicans living abroad.”

About Mercedes (Cheddy) García
Cheddy García, a Dominican native, graduated with a degree in Pedagogy from the UASD, belonged to the Cesar Vallejo literary workshop, and studied journalism at the IDP. She began reciting and writing poesia sorprendida and Afro-Caribbean poetry. She has also worked on major programs for local television.

She published her first book of decimas, “La Negrita Caridad,” and wrote a humorous column for El Venezolano newspaper. She has performed on stage in plays such as “La parada de gua gua,” “Locamente embarazada,” and  “Malas.”  Ms. García was awarded Comedian of the Year, Best Dramatic Actress at the Sovereign Awards and Best Actress at the Providence Latin American Film Festival in 2012. García has worked in more than a dozen films.

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