Movie News: THE STRIKE

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) is one of five signature programs of The Latino Film Institute (LFI), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to creating infrastructure for equity, diversity, and excellence for the Latino community in the entertainment industry. The full lineup for the 23rd LALIFF is available on their website. It is taking place through Sunday, June 2nd, 2024, at the iconic TCL Chinese Theatres in Hollywood, CA. and has some excellent selections among the feature films, short films, episodic works, animation, masterclasses, panels, networking sessions, musical performances, and LALIFF’s first film market. Tickets and more information are available on the festival’s site.

Here are some films that I viewed during the 26th annual Cine las Americas International Film Festival, which was held earlier this month in Austin, TX. They are noteworthy, award-winning, and excellent choices to view as they are now available to audiences in Los Angeles during the LALIFF.

The Strike, a feature documentary, will have its Los Angeles Premiere on Saturday, June 1st, at 7:00 PM at TCL Chinese Theaters Auditorium 3 (see website for tickets).

Synopsis: On the California-Oregon border sits Pelican Bay, one of the most infamous prisons in history—a supermax structure explicitly designed for mass-scale solitary confinement. It opened in 1989 and, for decades, held chiefly Black and Brown men alone in tiny cells for indefinite periods based on questionable evidence. Then, one day in 2013, thirty thousand prisoners went on a hunger strike. The Strike weaves together a half-century of personal and criminal justice history grounded in testimonies from the hunger strikers, detailing how the protest to end indefinite isolation started as a whisper inside the halls of Pelican Bay and spread as a colossal feat across California prisons. With unprecedented access to state prison officials and never-before-seen footage from inside Pelican Bay, the film reveals the panic that gripped the highest echelons of state government.

Director’s Bio: The Strike is Mexican American director/producer JoeBill Muñoz’s debut feature film alongside Lucas Guilkey. He directed the short films “Maletero” and “Evidence Lost” for Independent Lens and “Follow the Sun” for NBC and produced feature films and television series, including The Grab in 2022 at TIFF, Showtime’s The Circus, and Hulu’s The New York Times Presents. His work has been supported through fellowships from the Sundance Institute, New America, Firelight Media, SFFILM, and Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. Originally from Texas, he resides in New York City.

Director/ producer Lucas Guilkey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist in Oakland, California. Alongside JoeBill Muñoz, he recently directed and produced The Strike, which premiered in 2024 at the Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival. He recently served as a story producer on Aftershock, a feature documentary about the U.S. maternal health crisis that debuted at Sundance in 2022 and is now streaming on Hulu. Before that, he directed “What Happened to Dujuan Armstrong?” a short documentary about the coverup of a young man’s death in county jail, which was awarded the best documentary at the BAFTA student film awards.

Year: 2024, Runtime: 86 minutes, Language: English, Country: United States
Content Warning: Viewer discretion is advised
Cast: Jack Morris, Dolores Canales, Michael Saavedra, Paul Redd, Faruq Salvant, Ernesto Lira, Dadisi Benton
Cinematographer: Victor Tadashi Suarez
Editor: Daniela Quiroz
Sound Design: Benny Mouthon
Music: Samora Pinderhughes, Chris Pattishall

Additional films that were viewed at the Cine las Americas International Film Festival and recommended:

Boca Chica is a drama that is scheduled for May 30th, 9:45 PM @ TCL Chinese Theaters Auditorium 4

Synopsis: At 12, Desi dreams of becoming a famous singer. But her goal is threatened by the insidious future that awaits some girls in her town – a future that some of those closest to her may perpetuate—a story of courage, hope, and the power of finding your voice.

Director’s Bio: Award-winning director, writer, and production designer Gabriella A. Moses graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Her latest short, “More than a Subject,” was commissioned by the Munchmuseet in Norway. Her award-winning thesis film, “Las Mañanitas,” was featured at numerous international festivals, including New York University’s First Run Film Festival and the Serie Katra Film Festival. Her production design work has been featured at festivals worldwide, including Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca, and SXSW. Moses’s clients include Vogue, Estée Lauder, Instagram, Google, Casper, Target, Walmart, Keystone, and Bombas. She was named one of 2015’s Rising Latina Stars by the New York Hispanic Coalition and was shadow director for ABC Diversity Showcase 2015. Moses is currently developing her second feature and writing debut, Leche, which has received support from the Sundance Institute Creative Production Lab, the NYWIFT “From Script to Pre-Production” Workshop, the Sundance Screenwriting Intensive, the Tribeca Film Institute All-Access Lab, and the Gabriel Figueroa Film Fund Program. She interned for the TFI x Chanel Through Her Lens. Most recently, Moses was selected for the inaugural W Scripted Cannes Screenplay List, LALIFF and Netflix Inclusion Fellowship, and The Black List Screenwriter’s Lab.

Igualada: Documentary is set for Friday, May 31st, 9:45 PM @ TCL Chinese Theaters Auditorium 4

Synopsis: In Colombia, a nation marred by profound racial and socio-economic disparities, a Black woman from a rural background challenges the status quo by launching a presidential campaign. Reappropriating the term “igualada,” Francia Márquez catapults a movement to the upper echelons of power by refusing to “know her place.” Fifteen years in the making, this stirring documentary reveals how unprecedented change can happen.

Director’s Bio: Juan Mejía Botero is an award-winning director with 25 years of experience in feature documentaries, focusing primarily on struggles for social justice worldwide. Botero’s previous feature documentary, Death by a Thousand Cuts, shot along the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, premiered at the 2016 HotDocs Film Festival, won the Audience Award at DocNYC, the Grand Jury Prize at the Seattle International Film Festival and Best Changing Planet Program at the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival. He recently produced several episodes for Netflix’s miniseries Amend: The Fight for America and ABC’s Soul of a Nation.

Toll was also screened at the Cine las Americas International Film Festival, but I viewed the feature film during the SXSW Film & Television Festival held in March 2024 here in Austin, TX. This drama is scheduled for viewing at LALIFF on June 2nd, 4 PM, at TCL Chinese Theaters Auditorium 1.

Synopsis: Suellen, a toll booth attendant, realizes she can use her job to raise some extra money illegally. But this is only for a so-called noble cause: to send her son to an expensive gay conversion workshop led by a renowned foreign priest.

Director’s Bio: Carolina Markowicz is a screenwriter and director based in São Paulo, Brazil. She has written and directed two feature films and six short films selected at around 400 festivals, such as Cannes, Locarno, Toronto, SXSW, and San Sebastián, which have won over 100 awards.


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