Angelique Flores is the executive editor of Home Media Magazine. Her two home entertainment passions are Latino film and fitness. Flores has executive produced Home Media Magazine’s Latino DVD Conference and Latino DVD Awards. As a freelance journalist, her work has appeared in The Hollywood Reporter, Hispanic magazine, the Los Angeles Times, as well as other regional publications in Southern California. She is a graduate of Stanford University.
One of the biggest movies this year for Mexican-Americans was Cesar Chavez.
Starring Michael Peña, America Ferrera and Rosario Dawson, the film tells the story of civil rights activist and American farm worker Cesar Chavez and his rise as a labor leader. The film is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Lionsgate for about $20.
I won’t deny that the film failed to accurately portray many elements of the complex history of the United Farm Workers movement. I also won’t disagree all that much with the less-than-stellar reviews from critics and audiences alike.
However, I think it’s important to point out that Cesar Chavez is still a solid movie with a great message for filmmakers to make in highlighting an important Mexican-American leader AND portraying him by a talented Mexican-American actor. As with many biopics or historical movies, I hope that the movie encourages audiences to go out and research the real people and the real stories. In this Google age, a lot of information is easily accessible with a few keyboard strokes.
Of course, it would have been even easier if the home video releases included some sort of documentary or even a few featurettes about the real Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.
But do I have to commend distributors Lionsgate and Pantelion and production house Participant Media for socially conscious efforts to support Chavez’s cause, which sadly is still a struggle for farm workers.
As reported earlier in an article by my colleague Chris Tribbey, Participant Media and the Equitable Food Initiative (EFI) launched a new food label trust-mark that certifies produce is “responsibly grown and farmworker assured.” This will help shoppers identify, and hopefully purchase, equitably sourced food.
During the film’s theatrical run, Participant also gathered more than 30,000 signatures on TakePart.com in support of EFI’s efforts to provide training and fair wages to farmworkers and implement safe food practices. And among the trailers on the DVD is a PSA for farm worker safety standards and supporting the cause at Takepart.com/chavez. The TakePart petition is now at 34,016 of its 60,000 goal. I encourage you to visit the site and learn more about how you can take action and learn about the Chavez’s work, which is still being carried on today.
U.S. Latinos love watching movies, and they make up a huge portion of the moviegoing population. That’s pretty much what a panel of experts said June 8 at the Produced By Conference in Los Angeles, as reported in The Wrap (“Forget Fanboys, Why Hispanics Are the Most Important MovieGoers”).
Part of me thinks, “Um. Yes, we’ve known this for a while already. Why are we still discussing this?” (See any of my coverage of this over the past 10 years.) But another part of me sees the continued relevance of this conversation. The current research showing the strength and influence of those numbers on the industry isn’t any less potent, and more importantly, it’s not just us Latinos having these conversations anymore. Rather, these discussions are now taking place more frequently among non-Latino executives and decision-makers in the overall mainstream industry.
Now, one thing the panel didn’t address much of was the packaged-media and digital slices of the entertainment pie.
Studies show that 75% of Latinos own high-quality home entertainment systems, and 63% of them rent DVD or Blu-ray movies, as reported in Fashion Times.
Again, this isn’t all that new. A report dating back to 2009 indicated that Latina women in particular are big DVD consumers and above-average consumers of online and mobile video as well, according to a study by Solutions Research Group Consultants Inc. And I can go back even further with similar research and figures.
And now that the industry at large is taking more notice of Latino buying power and influence, we’re starting to see a rise in higher-quality Latino movies and the marketing of it. In my opinion, this is the best part.
Lionsgate’s 2013 film Instructions Not Included, starring and directed by Mexican star Eugenio Derbez, broke a number of records at the box office, including becoming the No. 1 Spanish-language film in the United States. It was one of my favorite movies of the year, and probably would not have been made 10 years ago. In fact, it took Derbez 12 years to make.
Derbez also told me during an interview that he knew the film would also do well on home video, and his prediction was right. Upon its retail debut in January the movie, distributed by Lionsgate, landed at No. 3 on Nielsen’s VideoScan chart and remained in the top 10 sales chart for another week. The movie also appeared in the top 20 rental chart for three weeks in row.
Another studio that is taking note of the Latino market is Paramount, which pointedly made the decision to the include Latino characters and Spanish dialogue in the most recent “Paranormal Activity” film. To my surprise — and, I think, the surprise of other Latinos in the industry as well as audiences — they got it right. No stereotypes. No mixing up of Latino cultures. No incorrect dialogue. This film, too, showed up on Nielsen’s top sales and rental charts upon its debut.
Digital platforms might arguably be even more successful among Latino audiences.
Latinos are watching more videos online than the rest of the U.S. population, according to Centris Marketing Science’s July 2013 U.S. Communications and Entertainment Insights report.
The report also found that 33% of American Latino households subscribe to Netflix, versus 25% of U.S. households overall.
Another beacon in the digital entertainment market for Latinos is Hulu, whose Hulu Latino site draws more than 1 million unique monthly Latino viewers, according to Rodrigo Mazon, content acquisition director for Hulu, as reported in Portada. He said that number continues to grow in the double digits, month-over-month since the channel launched two-and-a-half years ago.
And Hulu has created quality original programming, such as “East Los High,” and also supports it as well as third-party content with the marketing dollars.
Now this is just consumption of Hulu Latino. I can only imagine how much regular Hulu content Latinos are also viewing.
Meanwhile, Netflix has it’s own content in the works, a new yet-to-named soccer series — just in time for the World Cup — as well as “Narcos.”
It's an exciting and interesting time for us. As the mainstream industry takes increasing notice of Latinos’ exploding purchasing power, I think we’ll see a rise more Latinos in front of (and behind) the camera, as well as better Latino content.
Lionsgate’s successful fitness channel BeFit has just launched a new show featuring yogi and dancer Sydney Benner.
The new Yoga Dance Fusion series crosses dance with yoga for a unique workout aimed at intermediate yoga practitioners and dancers.
Each 12-minute high-intensity workout includes five circuits designed to use your own body weight to sculpt, lengthen and tone arms, shoulders, chest, legs, glutes, abs and back.
It reminds me of Jillian Michaels style power yoga, but without weights. Check out the first workout here.
The Lionsgate BeFit channel now has more than 1 million subscribers and now ranks among the top 1% of YouTube channels in the Google Preferred program.
Oralé Netflix. You did it again.
Yesterday Netflix announced its first Spanish-language original series in Mexico.
The untitled 13-episode series from Alazraki Entertainment is a comedy from director Gaz Alazraki. It reunites the team behind Nosotros los Nobles, one of the most successful Mexican box office hits of all time, and is set to premiere in 2015.
The show centers on a family feud among heirs of a soccer club after the owner’s death. Shooting entirely in Mexico, the show features a cast from all over Latin America, including Nobles star Luis Gerardo Mendez (“XY,” “La Clínica” and “Capadocia”).
This is not Netflix’s first step into original content for the Latino market.
If you recall my Aug. 21, 2013 blog post, Netflix announced then it was creating “A Toca” in Brazil. This show, while original for Netflix, was adapted from producer and writer Felipe Neto’s YouTube channel Parafernalha. And I presume this show, which is just for Brazilian audiences, is in Portuguese not Spanish.
More recently (about three weeks ago) Netflix ordered 10 episodes of “Narcos,” a drama based on Pablo Escobar's Medellin Cartel. The series will shoot in Colombia, with Brazilian director José Padilha at the helm and Brazilian actor Wagner Moura to star.
According to reports, this newest show unnamed show is aimed at U.S. Latinos in addition to the Latin American market.
In making yesterday’s announcement, I appreciate Netflix’s Ted Sarandos emphasizing how important the Mexican and Latin American markets are to the company.
“We’re confident our members in a market as important to us as Mexico and Latin America will love this family comedy,” he said.
And for that I have to agree with director Alazraki when he said “there's nobody cooler and more innovative in this day and age than Netflix."
Today we lost one of the greatest writers of our time. Gabriel García Márquez died at age 87 of pneumonia in Mexico City.
The Nobel Prize-winning author from Colombia ignited the explosion of Spanish-language literature and magical realism. Many of us have read or at least heard of his great novels One Hundred Years of Solitude, which led to the author’s Nobel Prize, and Love in the Time of Cholera.
I implore you to read García Márquez’ work. But if you are more inclined to watch movies than read, then check out some movies based on some of his novels or his screenplays.
Love in the Time of Cholera is available on DVD from Warner and stars Oscar-winning Javier Bardem and Benjamin Bratt. (How I would have loved to be the female lead in that movie!)
Other films available are Oedipus Mayor (Facets) and No One Writes to the Colonel (Maverick), starring Fernando Luján, Marisa Paredes and Salma Hayek. Released just last year on DVD (Distrimax) is Memoria de Mis Putas Tristes, which is based on my friend’s favorite García Márquez novel (you know who you are).
Many other movies have been made based on his writing — Eréndira, Cartas del Parque, María de mi Corazón, Of Love and Other Demons, In Evil Hour and Milagro en Roma — but unfortunately, they are not available on DVD or Blu-ray. Hint, hint, studios…
Who’s looking for new badass content from Robert Rodriguez?
El Rey’s supernatural crime show “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” will be available to U.S. viewers digitally on Amazon, iTunes, Sony PlayStation, Xbox, Vudu, Google Play, CinemaNow, Blackberry and Target Ticket.
Each episode of the show, which is based on the 1996 movie that Rodriguez directed and Quentin Tarantino wrote, will be available the day after broadcast starting March 12.
The show centers on bank robber brothers Seth (D.J. Cotrona) and Richie Gecko (Zane Holtz), who are wanted by the FBI and Texas Rangers Earl McGraw (Don Johnson) and Freddie Gonzalez (Jesse Garcia). While on the run to Mexico, the Geckos encounter a family, whom they take hostage, using their family RV to cross the border. All hell breaks loose when the group detours to a strip club occupied by vampires.
Rodriguez is among the executive producers of the series, which expands on the film, adding new characters and backstories, and developing the Mesoamerican mythology behind the creatures inside the club.
Entertainment One Television holds the domestic DVD and digital rights for the show and will likely release it on disc at a later date.
“From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” is a production from El Rey Network, a new 24-hour English-language network co-founded by Rodriguez, who curates the channel along with his artistic collective. Not surprisingly, El Rey’s content features original dramas, grindhouse content, cult classic actioners, and horror and sci-fi movies and shows.
According to its boilerplate info on the press release, “the network will unite the most culturally diverse generation in history through fearless, badass and original content that awakens the renegade in everyone.”
With that description, who wouldn’t want to watch any show on this network?
It’s about time a series like Latino Americans was made.
At more than 53 million people, we — Latinos — are the largest minority group in the United States, according to the U.S. Census.
Latino Americans is the first major documentary to tell the stories and history of our people in this country.
If you didn’t catch it when it aired on TV, PBS has you covered with it’s two-DVD set, available for $34.99, or online to stream on their website.
Narrated by Benjamin Bratt (love him!), the six-episode documentary series goes all the way back to Latinos in the United States from the 1500s to today. That’s right, it goes back to when areas like California and Texas were actually part of Mexico.
It also sheds light on the various waves of immigrants from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, and how U.S. policy is responsible for many of the laws and programs that brought Latinos here. These sorts of stories put into context the current events of today — and also might enrage you, if you look at the big picture. That is, brown people haters, if you only knew your history, you might see how foolish and contradictory your xenophobic and racist ways are.
But on a positive note, not only was it inspiring to see all these intelligent, successful, prominent Latino historians, professors, authors and many others tell our history, but it was impressive to learn that most of the production team behind the documentary are Latino Americans too.
During these six hours of viewing of this program, I felt an unprecedented sense of understanding and clarity on our history. I better understood our role, our struggles and our influence in this country. And I felt proud of both my Mexican culture and my American nationality.
But I also felt sadness and anger about the injustices and violence our people have endured over the years. It was heartbreaking to see the stories of racism against and lynching of not only innocent Latino American citizens but also against brave, decorated U.S. war heroes of Latino descent.
It also dismays me to think that many of these stories that are significant to U.S. history are not taught in our children’s classes, but hopefully programming such as this will help open people’s eyes.
PBS has started the dialogue, and they hope to keep it going. Visit their website to submit your own videos and share what being Latino means to you.
Read a little more about the Latino Americans in my review.
For those who like those complete boxed set workout systems, Lionsgate has got something for you.
Lionsgate is packaging the videos from its popular BeFit in 90 channel as a set and for digital download, filled with extras.
The BeFit in 90 Workout System will be available exclusively on Amazon for three months beginning next week on Sept. 3.
The three-DVD set ($20.93) contains the 90-day total weight-loss program led by Samantha Clayton, an Olympic sprinter, and Garret Amerine, a former Marine.
These two ass-kicking trainers lead three months of 35-minute total body workouts featuring cardio, strength training and yoga to burn fat and build muscle.
Over the three-month program, the workouts become progressively more challenging, with a unique routine each day to avoid both muscle memory and repetition.
The set also comes with the Trainer Tip videos from the BeFit in 90 channel, a workout calendar designating workouts and rest days, a fitness journal to set goals and track progress, and a nutritional guide with healthy recipes and dietary information.
The BeFit in 90 Workout System already is available for digital download on iTunes in standard definition ($19.99) and high definition ($20.99). iTunes offers a link to download the workout calendar, nutritional guide and fitness journal.
Sure, the videos are available on YouTube for free, so why pay the $20 for the disc and materials? The bonus materials, the elimination of the YouTube ads, and the convenience of having the workouts streamlined and packaged in three discs are more than worth the retail price.
The set will be available widely at retail stores in December.
Lionsgate launched the Be Fit in 90 in January 2012. As of today, the channel has 28,076 subscribers, and that number continues to grow.
If you read my July 8 blog, Latinos Love Netflix, you may have caught my suggestion at the end for Netflix to create original Spanish-Language content. Well, I apparently (and unknowingly) was reading their minds.
A few weeks ago, BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield tweeted: “Netflix takes 1st “baby” steps toward creating original content outside US, “The Burrow” in Brazil.” See my colleague Erik Gruenwedel’s report.
Greenfield included a link to an article from Jornal O Globo with more info, if you can read Portuguese. According to O Globo (with some help from freetranslation.com), I learned the show is called “A Toca” (The Touch) and is a comedy comprised of skits, based on “The Office.”
The show is written and produced by Felipe Neto, a popular comedian on YouTube from the channel Parafernalha.
Neto told O Globo he had complete creative freedom — sounds similar to what “The Arrested Development” and “House of Cards” producers said of Netflix — and the program touches on subjects traditionally taboo on TV, similar to Neto’s YouTube show “Não Faz Sentido.”
“A Toca” is new content adapted from Parafernalha, and according to Andrew Wallenstein’s report from Variety, the show appears exclusively on Netflix, which licenses the series.
The program debuted Aug. 9 with three 30-minute episodes on Netflix, which has been available in Brazil for two years now.
Unlike Netflix’s other shows, "A Toca" will be available only in Brazil. Jonathan Friedland, chief communications officer for Netflix, told O Globo that the show is “very Brazilian” and that comedies don’t translate to other countries as well as dramas do. He pointed to “Arrested Development,” which is doing great in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, but not so well in Latin America.
“A Tocar” marks Netflix’s first original programming outside of the United States. I think it’s pretty cool the service chose a Latin American country for this milestone.
Last year’s No, starring Gael García Bernal, garnered much critical acclaim, becoming the first Chilean film to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. I had seen director Pablo Larraín’s other film, Tony Manero (a good and most creepy drama), and so I was curious about another recent film from Chilean director and writer Sebastián Silva (The Maid).
Silva’s Magic Magic, recently released on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, takes place in Chile and stars an interesting cast: Emily Browning, Juno Temple, Michael Cera, Agustín Silva (Sebastián’s brother) and Catalina Sandino Moreno (Maria Full of Grace).
The film is beautifully shot, and the acting without any complaints here. But to be honest, I’m still scratching my head on this one. It’s a thriller with some sorta creepy parts that might seem mysterious and nefarious, but in the end are not. On top of that, the characters are mostly pretty unlikable too.
So onward with my quest for more good Chilean films.