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Reyes' 'Illegal Tender' Rolls in on DVD

7 Dec, 2007 By: Angelique Flores

Franc. Reyes

It's been five years since Franc. Reyes entered the scene as a director and writer for his gangster drama Empire.

Reyes' follow-up, Illegal Tender, is heading to DVD Dec. 18 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

The $29.98 DVD includes deleted scenes, a music video from Que No featuring Dicky Ranking and Abusivo, as well as making-of featurettes on the film and the music video.The film features a cast of talented Latino stars: Rick Gonzales (Coach Carter, “Reaper”), Wanda de Jesus (“CSI: Miami”), Dania Ramirez (“Heroes,” X-Men: The Last Stand) and reggaeton superstar Tego Calderon. The film, produced by John Singleton, drew in $3.1 million at the box office.

Illegal Tender is a story about Wilson (Gonzales), a college student whose father was killed by gangsters. He and his mother (de Jesus) decide to settle the score.

The film features the theatrical debut of reggaeton artist Tego Calderon.

“I wrote that role for him,” said Reyes, who recalled watching Calderon on the music video “Bandoleros” by Don Omar. “That's when I said, ‘That's the guy.’

For Reyes, finding talented actors with realistic looks is important. And since Latinos come in all colors, he wants to reflect that in his films.

“Latinos are not used to seeing themselves as a protagonist unless they're beautiful people. It's not realistic,” he said. “Latinos want them to look like the Eurocentric idea of a person, not a Caribbean or Afrocentric idea. We [filmmakers] are to blame for that. We perpetuate.”

As a Latino filmmaker, Reyes is mindful of maintaining a Latino cast in his films.

“A Latino filmmaker is a filmmaker for all audiences,” Reyes said. “I don't make films with Latino themes. I make films with Latinos in them.”

Reyes' 2002 film Empire featured a diverse cast with John Leguizamo, Peter Sarsgaard, Denise Richards, Sonia Braga, Nestor Serrano and Isabella Rossellini.

“Our experiences are vast, just like that of the black and the Italian communities, and we should tell them all,” he said. “I don't think filmmakers have hit that sweet spot yet.”

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