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 2023 International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival (Ticket Block 8); 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 🇵🇷
“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.
“1969. The Vietnam War was raging and young recruits at Fort Lee, Virginia were waiting to hear their fates, when Major Mario Orsini came into their lives – “Who plays music?” the Major asks. Soon they were a five piece band, calling themselves, Latin Four Plus, and miraculously, all the soldiers in the band are reassigned from postings in Vietnam to postings in Pusan, Korea. In Pusan, this multicultural band flourished, and lived the dream of becoming a surprise sensation, making television appearances and packing nightclubs with their bossa nova, rumba and pop repertoire. In 2018, after almost 50 years, Major Orsini gathered the ol’ group together and now with his wife by his side, he’s at it again.”
Follow Your Dreams, And Never Let Them Go
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 director Marco narrates the film which begins as several young Puerto Ricans are getting ready to ship off to Vietnam when the war was at its peak. Mario, an officer from San Juan, brings several Puerto Ricans together to sing in church. He then arranges to get them all posted to Korea instead of Vietnam.
Mario is a clever, charismatic man and the film is filled with his humor which is very Puerto Rican. In Korea, he befriended a wealthy businessman. After hearing the band perform at home, the businessman said the people need to hear you and sent his private plane to fly them to their first gig. They got in the newspapers, and after singing a Latin song in Korean, became celebrities.
For 13 months they lived like K-pop stars in Korea. The dream ended, or took a break, when they got reposted to other locations. They didn’t see each other for 47 years.
It’s a Family Affair
Like most things Puerto Rican, this is a family affair, a documentary made by a talented son, Marco Orsini, about his talented father Mario, and now his talented stepmother Betty is part of the band too. Women are the guardians of culture, and the family, especially la Borinqueña. The adventure of completing her husband’s dream by making a CD and performing with the band again, was her idea.
The film takes you through their rehearsals for the CD and their performance in front of a convention audience of thousands of Puerto Ricans. Mario tells his audience, your job is to “empower others so they have the opportunity to succeed.” That’s exactly what both Mario Orsini and the International Puerto Rican Heritage Film Festival are all about.
The Latin Four Plus:
- Mario Orsini, the bandleader on guitar is from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- Frankie Alvarado on guitar.
- Claudio Alvarez on bass.
- Joe Figueroa on lead guitar is from Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.
- Pablo Hernandez on lead vocals.
- Betty Orsini on vocals.
The film is perfectly in line with the Festival’s core message that creativity is a way for Puerto Ricans to achieve our dreams. We are a small number of people from a tiny island, with a big influence on the world.
Marco Orsini told New York Latin Culture Magazine that, “The one thought I want people to take away from the film, is to never give up on your dreams as this is about dreaming. It’s never arriving it’s always the journey.”
Every time these young men, and later their older selves, faced something they didn’t know how to do, they just went ahead and did it with Puerto Rican heart and soul. It always turned out great.
You may have to get to the end of this movie to understand the beginning, and those of us who have had many endings, know that every ending is also a new beginning. This film begins with Mario Orsini’s motivational words. Read them out loud, please.
The chapters of your life have not been written yet. The next pages are blank. You have the opportunity to create that story, for you to write that chapter. For you to write it, not someone else who then earns the three dollars off of your back. No you write it, because it’s your life. And you write what you want of yourself, because it is yours to write. Because you deserve everything that you want. I assume that they are the Father and Holy Spirit, but I’m not so sure myself, but whatever they are I give them thanks. Why do I give them thanks? Because I am an original. You too. You are an original. What the hell are we doing, trying to copy one another when we’re all originals? You are sufficient. You are sufficient to achieve whatever you want in life. You can!”Mario Orsini
Director Marco Orsini
Marco Orsini is based in Greece and is a writer, director and producer who sees audio-visual storytelling as an unrivaled means to educate, advocate and inspire. Along with writing, directing and producing, he travels to discuss film and speak at events, serves as a panel juror, and spreads the word on global issues that define and affect the worldwide humanitarian space.
He has a large body of film work and is just as charismatic and inspiring as his father. It’s easy to see where his talent comes from.
Keep up with Marco Orsini at marco-orsini.com
The future belongs to the young, but it also belongs to the young at heart who never stop dreaming. Go see this movie. You know how after a great night out, you wake up thinking about it? If you see this movie, you will wake up the next day, thinking about it. And then you will get to work writing your own story, whatever you choose that to be.
We are one of a kind. You are one of a kind.”Mario Orsini
“Yo soy Boricua, pa’ que tú lo sepas” 🇵🇷
Get tickets at iphrff.org