Enrique Castillo (Blood In Blood Out, Weeds, Zoot Suit)
Photo Credit: Homebound
By DeeDee Garcia Blase
Homebound is a new independent movie that received numerous awards west of the Mississippi River. It is the story of Richard Lynn, a successful young man who returns to his small hometown, El Campo, Texas. He has to help his father Gilberto who’s ill with cancer, run the family business, a dilapidated bar. Richard Lynn, accidentally falls in love for the first time with Sofia, a Venezuelan immigrant who speaks very little English. It is a heartwarming film, with inspiring performances, unexpected twists and a passionate ending that will delight audiences around the world.
The movie is packed with dynamic Chicano and Latino actors like Enrique Castillo (Weeds, Blood In Blood Out, Zoot Suit) who plays a strong patriarch wanting to ensure his family is taken care of in light of his illness. His character’s background is one of a Vietnam veteran hero reminding us of those who have contributed their service and sacrifice that protects the liberties we all enjoy now.
Although it feels like the current face of Chicanos and Latinos is solely the immigration issue – nothing could be further from the truth. The economy is just as important to us as we have become real contributors to the economic and labor force. According to Partnership For New American Economy: “Hispanic households, both native and foreign-born, account for a large portion of America’s overall spending power. In 2013, Hispanics had an estimated after-tax income of more than $605 billion.”
Chicanos (Americans of Mexican descent) and Latinos are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the United States, and our passion for movies has shown itself when our demographic group bought 25 percent of the movie tickets sold in 2013 even though we comprise just 17 percent of the population, according to the Motion Picture Association of America’s year-end study. Mexican Americans account for approximately 70% of the entire Latin / Hispanic population pie, which is Chicanos should step up and promote, buy movie tickets that depict our community in a good light.
You don’t have a major hit without Hispanic moviegoers,” Chris Aronson, Fox’s president of domestic distribution, told TheWrap. In addition, it is not surprising to hear Chicanas and/or Latinas are the most avid moviegoers according to an exclusive study.
What will it take for Chicanos and Latinos to have a more dominant role in the entertainment industry? I asked Enrique Castillo that question and he believes “we need more of us involved behind the scenes – from script writing to producing.” He also said, “…too often we are more concerned with being in front of the camera, but we should diversify our roles in other areas because a lot of power to control and change things happens behind the camera, and influence goes behind the writer, producer and investing into film.”
We have a model to pattern ourselves from with regard to the successes of Hollywood. Though Hollywood does not appear eager to create a dynamic movie about one of our Chicano heroes like Corky Gonzales, it is their business decision to make. After all, why would “Hollywood” be interested in creating a new mega Chicano actor that could very well compete with the likes of Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt?
We must on our own accord prove we can handle the entertainment business by demanding what we want to see. Obviously we want to see Chicanos and Latinos starring in movies, and as such we should begin right here within our own communities at a grass roots level. We have the numbers and should have the ability to create our own network that will promote independent movies like Homebound. We don’t do it by playing victim – we do it by promoting our movies with social networking. Indeed, this film has already been to 9 cities already because of the support of our community with less than 5% of all television and film directed by women. Of that 5%– less than 1% are minority women. This is why it is important to support Homebound a film written, directed and produced by a Fanny Veliz. Until there is enough power in distribution, financing and promotion of a film – it will always be a struggle for Chicano and Latino film makers. But for now we should continue to promote movies that impact our communities like Homebound that visit theatres near you, and right now we want to see this movie in Arizona.
Fanny Veliz is an award winning female Latina director.