As we enter August, we are nearing the beginning of the serious festival season. In Los Angeles, there is Hollyshorts and AFI. Toronto has TIFF.
The nation’s premier and most diverse Latinx festival begins with HBO Presents – New York Latino Film Festival.
The 16th edition kicks off Monday, August 12th.
The festival will feature more than 83 films representing 10 countries, spanning all genres including features, shorts, documentaries, web series and experimental films starring, about and for the U.S. Latinx community.
And award-winning, Los Angeles-based director and Emmy Award-winning producer, Blake Vaz of Valagardo Productions, will be there to present his disturbing short horror film, Blood Stains.
The award-winning film tells the story of an ambitious musician, with big dreams of stardom, leaving his band and girlfriend behind to for America. After he meets a mysterious hitch-hiker, the dream quickly becomes a nightmare in the vein of the Rutger Hauer classic B-movie, The Hitcher.
Laz (played by Hansel Ramírez) is a musician from the border land of (Vaz’s hometown) El Paso/Juarez, who always believes his destiny is to become a famous rock star. Unfortunately, neither his bandmates nor his girlfriend believe in his hopes and dreams. Frustrated, he leaves it all behind for a shot at stardom. With only his Mother’s blessing, Laz leaves to Los Angeles for his shot at the American Dream.
It is on the road to Hollywood that he encounters a mysterious man played by Aaron Gaffey (The After Party, Marvel’s Agents of Shield). Stranded in the middle of the Arizona desert, he asks Laz for a ride to Los Angeles, in return he will cover all expenses on their way there. But is there something else behind this chance encounter?
On their Journey, Laz must make a choice and discover how far he is willing to go for a shot at his dream. Watch the trailer below:
The short which has played at 38 festivals and counting, is a very personal first film for musician, director and Emmy-award winning producer, Vaz.
>“I’ve played in bands since I was 14 years old, but when I got married I had to leave music behind. In 2001, when my wife got pregnant with our second child, I saw all of my music dreams fading away. I was 21 and I decided to put the band, The Mulberry Purple back together again,” Vax told Reel 360.
He adds, “One night, as I was sitting in front of my computer, looking for ways to get our music out. Sending demos, contacting labels, cold calling agencies. My frustration reached a boiling point, and I started writing. Angry. Frustrated.”
“I wanted to leave everything behind as I told myself that I was willing to do anything to conquer my dreams. The first couple of lines wrote themselves. My main character, a frustrated musician that wanted to leave everything behind for his dreams.”
According to Vaz, that led to the first draft of Blood Stains. He went onto explain that he then set out, with all of his belongings, to Los Angeles.
“As I made the drive cross-country, crying, scared, confused. I remembered that little short film I started writing a year before. At that moment I asked myself. How far am I willing to go for my dreams?”
HBO Presents – New York Latino Film Festival will open with the New York premiere of the film Princess of the Row from director Max Carlson and starring Martin Sheen, Edi Gathegi, Ana Ortiz, Tayler Buck, Jacob Vargas, among others.
Unflinching and emotional, Princess of the Row is the inspiring tale of a runaway foster child who will stop at nothing to live with the only family she knows: her father… a homeless, mentally ill-veteran fighting to survive on the streets of LA’s skid row.
Blood Stains will screen at the HBO Presents – New York Latino Film Festival Midnight Block. Thursday August 15th at 9:00PM AMC Empire 25 Times Square. Take it from the co-writer, it is a film not to be missed.
Contact Colin Costello at firstname.lastname@example.org.