Review and Interview: SHINE

David Zayas stars in Forgiven Films Release “Shine”


By Liz Lopez

Rating: B –

The new drama, “Shine,” is directed by Anthony Nardolillo (“Mano,” “We Are All Latino”) who co-wrote the script with Corey Deshon (“To Police”). This story set in New York is focused on two of Spanish Harlem’s best Salsa dancers, Puerto Rican brothers Ralphi Matas (Jorge Burgos) and Junior (Gilbert Saldivar) who once were close and then went their separate ways, including very diverse careers. Gentrification is prominent in many areas of the United States and is a main theme that runs through “Shine” as well as focusing on dance, music and family. The music and dance are the stronger aspects of the film and are what carries the script. I highly recommend the film for the music and dance, as the story is good although the at times veers towards melodramatic. I do think it is a good attempt to discuss the topic of gentrification and the effect it has neighborhoods and affordability.  

The performances are good, especially with professional dancers taking on the acting roles, and certainly with David Zayas (a former New York police officer turned actor) who has multiple credits in television and film, including “The Expendables,” “Michael Clayton,” “The Savages,” among others.

Ralphi returns to his old neighborhood in New York City after having been gone seven years, now working in commercial real estate. His estranged brother, Junior, continued his dancing career but is also an activist against gentrification. Ralphi’s boss, Linda (Alysia Reiner) is chasing a development deal that is totally opposite of what his brother supports.

David Zayas (“Dexter”) stars as Ramon Matas, father to the two who was the new owner of a dance studio, now owned by Josie (Kimberli Flores). When the possibility of losing it comes up, the local dance community comes together despite the development all around them. The power of family comes through when the brothers listen to their Tio Julio (Nelson Gonzales). He stresses the importance of their community.

The film “Shine” is set to open in limited theaters across the nation October 5, 2018. In Austin and the local area, it is scheduled to be shown at the Metropolitan Stadium 14, Cinemark Southpark Meadows and at the Georgetown, Texas City Lights 12 theater.

Rating:  R (for language) Runtime: 95 minutes

Source: Forgiven Films (GVN Releasing), 13 Paces

Interview with David Zayas (Ramon Matas in “Shine”)

In review of the titles of some of your previous work, I was not sure if any of your film or television work has a music basis or theme. Can you clarify, if so?

DZ – It is the first time to do something Puerto Rican/Salsa/Spanish Harlem related. They (other works) have put this flavor into my characters, but it is the first time with one that has a positive outlook of Latin life and life in Spanish Harlem that is family oriented.

How do you think this family oriented story will appeal to audiences?

DZ -Well, we’re Latin (referring to both of us) and we know how important family structure is. First, the Latin characters are positive figures and it has to do with family loyalty, cultura (culture), etc. My character is the patriarch with two sons – and is encouraging them to make the neighborhood safer, better and maintaining the cultura (culture).

Gentrification is a theme in the film. Please provide some input about it from your perspective.

DZ – It is economics! Its economics and it is something that I have been seeing in New York City for years. It is not an evil empire – it is simply economics. People are trying to make more neighborhoods with their idea of what is wanted or needed. It is a complicated issue. On the surface – why not make it more accessible? What is wrong is that people then can’t afford the home or business. It used to be you could buy café con pan for $1.50 and now you have to pay $20! People living here don’t match the economics, so they have to move away, or live in a tighter economic situation. It could be devastating to a family that does not earn much, but it is based on the opportunities. They just don’t get the jobs. It is good to talk about this in depth, especially to the people it is happening to. Art is a good way to express it and bring light to it.

Can you site a challenging point for you in this film?

DZ- The only thing I will say is that I play a musician and I had to learn how to play the congas. I am not musically inclined. This was a positive negative. I learned more about music, how a band conducts itself on set, etc. I had private lessons for the congas. I learned and it worked. We do the best we can.

Do you have something to tell the audience about the film?

DZ – There is a very important point: that there are a large amount of Latinos (from several countries he mentioned). We have to support each other for our cultures. Many went to see “American Me” with Edward James Olmos. There is another story of a Mexican American in Los Angeles. I don’t know about this (story), living on the East Coast, but it is necessary to me to go and learn about it. Look at the African-Americans – they go and support, no matter where they are from (also listing individuals living in the U. S., Jamaica and other countries). We need to separate ourselves from these “differences” and be the unified force to bring more Latino stories to the theater, film etc.

La “musica de salsa” (salsa music) is universal. Mark Anthony travels worldwide and has thousands in his audience.

We have to find the things that unite us – we all have our stories. All are family oriented. It is an important message for all Latinos. Even if it is in Mississippi, it is important that they go to the show.

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