The 13th International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival 2023 screens films made in Puerto Rico and by the Puerto Rican Diaspora.
There are more Puerto Ricans in Diaspora on the mainland, than on the island, so the heritage part makes sense. Our colonial status makes things complicated.
“Yo soy Boricua, __ ___ __ __ ____.” But what does that mean? Are we Americans, Puerto Ricans, or both? Are we the creative class or the under class? Are we Mott Haven, Bushwick, Condado, Loíza, or Jayuya? Do most people see us as Puerto Ricans, Latinos, Black, White, Indigenous, Americans, or foreigners? How do we even see ourselves? We may be some or all of the above, but the Diaspora and Islanders often have very different opinions. And being Puerto Rican is such a diverse blend of peoples and cultures that every Puerto Rican has their own unique situation. Regardless, we are a small community with a big influence on American and global popular culture. Puerto Rican musicians rule the music world.
Since Broadway’s “West Side Story” (1957) gave a false impression about who Puerto Ricans are, we are always concerned about how we are represented in mass media. Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, second Director of El Museo del Barrio, and founder of the Caribbean Culture Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), has said that we have to tell our own stories because nobody else will. Telling their own stories is exactly what these young Puerto Ricans are doing.
A word of caution. Part of the colonizer’s game is to mess with your head, so you can be easily manipulated while they go straight to the bank. The colonizer wants to put you in an identity spin cycle. When someone closes a door in your face for no reason other than the projection of their own self-hatred, it’s easy to get lost in questions of your own identity. “Ignore the bird, follow the river.” Get to work. That is also what these young Puerto Ricans are doing. They are working on their own future.
13th International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival 2023
The 13th International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival 2023 screens films made in Puerto Rico and by the Puerto Rican Diaspora with a red carpet opening night at El Museo del Barrio, a panel discussion with actors Luis Gúzman and Luna Lauren Vélez at the Silberman School of Social Work in “El Barrio” East Harlem, and screenings at the Regal Essex Crossing in the Lower East Side; live from Wednesday-Sunday, November 1-5; and streaming the following week, November 6-12, 2023. 🇵🇷
Red Carpet Opening Night ~ “Story Avenue”
It all starts with a red carpet opening night screening of Aristotle Torres’ “Story Avenue” (2023); starring veteran Luis Guzmán, with Asante Blackk and Melvin Gregg; at El Museo del Barrio in “El Barrio” East Harlem on Wednesday, November 1, 2023 at 6pm. From $15. iprhff.org 🇵🇷
The film has a great title filled with meaning. Story Avenue is a real street in Soundview, The Bronx. The neighborhood is now the New York Puerto Rican heartland. This is a beautiful story that starts with a stereotypical framing of Puerto Ricans in the U.S., but evolves into a tale about the power of Boricua creativity, and the power of our ancestors in the father figure played by Luis Guzmán, both in the film and in this festival.
It’s the same Puerto Rican Power that carved the famous coqui petroglyph into La Piedra Escrita in Jayuya. Jlo is from Castle Hill, next to Soundview. Her creativity took her up too. So the Boricua creative story is an avenue to the life you dream of.
Hispanics in Hollywood Panel ~ “Golden Flower”
After a screening of David Massey’s “Golden Flower,” a short that connects the story of the Taína cacica Anacaona to the present; Luis Guzmán and Luna Lauren Vélez will talk about where we are in Hollywood and how to change things for the better. It’s at Centro in the Silberman School of Social Work in “El Barrio” East Harlem; on Thursday, November 2, 2023 at 12pm. FREE with rsvp. iprhff.org 🇵🇷
- Anacaona was the cacica (chief) of southern Ayití, the Taíno heartland in what is now Haiti. She promoted coexistence with the Spanish colonizers until they betrayed and murdered her in 1504.
- Luis Guzmán, from Cayey in the mountains of Puerto Rico. He is known for his work on “Boogie Nights,” “Traffic,” “Carlitos Way,” “Narcos,” and “Oz.” Twitter @IamLuisGuzman
- Luna Lauren Vélez; from Brooklyn, New York; is known for her work on “Spider-Man,” “Dexter,” “New York Undercover,” “Ugly Betty,” and “Oz.” Twitter @LunaLaurenVeIez | Instagram @lunalaurenvelez
Both of these actors are on Twitter. Many creatives don’t care about Twitter, but it is where a lot of journalists are, so we still recommend being there.
Festival categories include: Animation, Documentary, Feature, Music Video, Short, and Web Series. There are some great and provocative stories, and storytelling. If you know the island, you’ll want to back.
Films are screening at the Regal Essex Crossing in the Lower East Side. Tickets are sold in film blocks from $10. iprhff.org 🇵🇷
Latin Four Plus
“In 1969, Colonel Orsini bent rules to assemble a band, deploy it to Korea and live the dream. In 2018, he’s at it again.
We don’t take anything with us out of this life, except for the experiences we share with others. A few of us have the good fortune to share a lot. This is one of those stories.
The protagonist Mario tells his audience, your job is to “empower others so they have the opportunity to succeed.” That’s exactly what this film and the International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival are all about.
Read our review and go see this movie. You will wake up thinking about it.
Marco Orsini’s documentary “Latin Four Plus,” an inspiring true story about how five Puerto Ricans lived their dreams as Korean pop sensations and never stopped dreaming; screens at the Regal Essex Crossing in Manhattan’s Lower East Side; on Sunday, November 5, 2023 at 12pm. $15. In Spanish and English with subtitles. iphrff.org 🇵🇷
The Awards Ceremony is at the Regal Essex Crossings Cinema in the Lower East Side; on Sunday, November 5, 2023 at 4pm. FREE. Just show up. iprhff.org 🇵🇷
For more information, visit iprhff.org ¡WEPA! 🇵🇷