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Meet the New Class of the NALIP Latino Lens: Narrative Short Film Incubator for Women of Color

Meet the New Class of the NALIP Latino Lens: Narrative Short Film Incubator for Women of Color

Last year, our team opened applications for the second annual NALIP Latino Lens™: Narrative Short Film Incubator for Women of Color, a program supported by Netflix’s Fund for Creative Equity. Today, we're thrilled to introduce the 2022 class of filmmakers: Holly M. Kaplan (Sunflower Girl), Nicole Otero (Wait for Night), Akilah ‘Ak’ Walker and Diana Gonzalez-Morett (Pedacito de Carne), Jhanvi Motla (Mirage) and Frida Perez (Detox).

These women stood out for their compelling storytelling visions from the hundreds of applications received this year. As part of this program, the filmmakers received a $25,000 grant to produce a new short film. Throughout that process, they were  supported by executives at the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) and Netflix, who provided creative feedback during development as well as guidance through post-production. The films will showcase at a special screening at NALIP’s Diverse Women in Media Forum on March 30, 2023, and the filmmakers will be invited to attend various industry events through NALIP  to help expand their professional networks. 

We’re also excited to share that the 2021 inaugural class of filmmakers have seen national acclaim for their films. Some highlights: 

  • Eileen Alvarez's Mama Retreat had its premiere at LALIFF, and has gone on to play at New York Latino Film Festival, LA Latinx Film Festival, Screamfest Horror Film Festival, Female Voice Rock, Santa Monica Film Festival, San Francisco Latino Film Festival, Newport Beach Film  Festival, Tallgrass Film Festival and Chelsea Film Festival.

  • Caroline Guo's Firecracker had its world premiere at the 40th OutFest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival, and was an Official Selection at the 26th Urbanworld Film Festival, 45th Asian American International Film Festival, 23rd San Diego Asian Film Festival and others.

  • Eunice Levis's Ro & The Stardust recently won Best Narrative Short at the 25th Annual Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival, and has played in 4 other Oscar Qualifying fests, including American Black Film Festival, Urbanworld, and the Pan African Film Festival where it was nominated for Best Short Film. Up next, the film is scheduled to screen at the Female Voices Rock Film Festival and the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival in May 2023.

  • Angelita Mendoza's The Blue Drum premiered at Screamfest Horror Film Festival, and played at New York Latino Film Festival, Reel Sisters of the Diaspora, San Francisco Another Hole in the Head, Female Voices Rock, Manchester International Film Festival and San Diego Latino Film Festival.

Our teams are excited to be part of these filmmakers’ journeys as they create films that will allow more people to see themselves and their experiences represented on screen, and we hope that programs like these will continue to be launchpads for women of color in the entertainment industry. Learn more about this year’s class below, and join us in celebrating all the filmmakers’ achievements!

Sunflower Girl by Holly M. Kaplan

Logline: When a 13-year-old Chinese-American girl has the opportunity to go skateboarding with her crush, it comes at the cost of neglecting her familial duties.

Bio: Holly M. Kaplan is a second-generation Chinese-American filmmaker, born and raised in New York City. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Film & Media Arts at American University and earned the Ron Sutton Award for Visual Literacy. While studying abroad at FAMU International in Prague, Czech Republic, she shot her first short, The Lesson (Lekce), on 16mm. Following the reception of her short film, Holly became an apprentice to the late Ben Barenholtz on his feature film, Alina. Currently, Holly is working as a Director's Assistant on HBO Max’s Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin under directors Lisa Soper and Alex Pillai. Inspired and driven by ties to her Cantonese heritage, Holly is invested in bringing narratives about the Asian diaspora and diversity to the forefront.

Wait for Night  by Nicole Otero

Logline: Two siblings return to their late father’s house for the last time, but they encounter an already unfamiliar environment in the place that holds their past. WAIT FOR NIGHT is a triptych of loss in America’s Southwest.

Bio: Nicole Otero began as a self-taught filmmaker. Learning through experience, she worked extensively on set and in post. In 2020, Otero’s directorial narrative debut, SLIP, was acquired & distributed by Kino Lorber/Dedza, as part of a collection highlighting emerging directors. SLIP is currently streaming on Criterion Channel. Born in a mixed, Mexican-American family, her work explores memory, loss and identity. With emphasis on cinema’s sonic possibilities, she is interested in haptic, embodied cinema.

Otero has also edited several films for major museum exhibitions, including MoMA, the New Museum, the Hammer, and more. She edited THE AFRICAN DESPERATE, a narrative feature, which premiered at International Film Festival Rotterdam and New Directors/New Films 2022 at Lincoln Center.

Pedacito de Carne by Akilah ‘Ak’ Walker and Diana Gonzalez-Morett

Logline: Sandra finds herself in a new role as a caregiver for her mother living with Frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Burnt out by the nonsense that is social service, the relentless pile-on of caregiving demands, and the heartbreak of slowly losing parts of her mother, Sandra risks it all and takes a night off.

Team Bio: Creative collaborators since 2015, acting, devising theater, writing, and recently producing our short film, Ivar Tunnel: Shook Ones, written and directed by Akilah and produced by Diana. For that film, we raised $25,000 (in 2 weeks), secured fiscal sponsorship from Film Independent, gathered a 90% BIPOC cast and crew, and filmed during COVID. The film has since won “Best US Short Film” by the San Francisco Indie Short Film Festival, “Best First Time Director (Female)” by the Independent Short Awards, “Best Cinematography” by the Black Women Film Network Short Film Competition, and was officially selected to the following festivals: Brooklyn Film Festival 2022, Toronto Black Film Festival 2022, & Black Women Film Network Short Film Competition 2022. In 2020, the pair co-founded Good Mother Films.

Mirage by Jhanvi Motla

Logline: Recently widowed, Nitya Mehra leaves Mumbai to work at a motel owned by her distant cousin in the California desert. Within days of her arrival however she learns that the motel’s survival depends on sinister outside forces and her willingness to preserve this second chance at life is put to the test.

Bio: Jhanvi is a Los Angeles based filmmaker originally from Mumbai. She is a graduate of the American Film Institute Conservatory. Motla has Produced, Written, and Directed films that have premiered at New York Film Festival, AFI Fest, Deauville Film Festival, LA Asian Pacific Film Festival and many more. She is an alumnus of Film Independent’s Project Involve. In Fall 2021, she produced her first feature film entitled At The Gates in association with Beacon Pictures starring Noah Wyle and Miranda Otto. Her feature script Divya was a semifinalist for the 1497 Features Lab as well as the Women In Film x Blcklst Feature Residency ’21. Currently she serves as associate producer at MakeMake Entertainment.  In Summer ‘22 she wrote and directed her second short film entitled Mirage which is now being developed as a feature.

Detox by Frida Perez

Logline: ​​Alone for a day, Victoria ruminates over her greatest fear and obsession: food.

Bio:  Frida Perez is a Dominican-American filmmaker based in LA. She was a 2019 Sundance Ignite Fellow for her short film White Noise. Her feature film script, Just Kids, was a finalist for the 2020 SFFILM Westridge Grant. Her second short film Bottle Bomb premiered at the Chicago Latino Film Festival and is currently on the festival circuit. Frida EP’s the podcast “Storytime with Seth Rogen” which was listed on several year-end "best of" lists. Frida was nominated for Best Scriptwriting for the Ambie Awards for her work. Frida started her career as an assistant at United Talent Agency in the Independent Film Department. She then moved to Seth Rogen's production company Point Grey Pictures where she worked under senior executives who produced projects including Pam and Tommy and Good Boys.