HITN-TV’s long-anticipated ¡Tú Cuentas! Cine Youth Fest launches in a virtual format this week. The month-long (Sept. 18 to Oct. 16) online film festival features the work of aspiring Latinx filmmakers and creatives and can be accessed via the ¡Tú Cuentas! Cine Youth Fest website and YouTube channel.
Premiering during Hispanic Heritage Month, the ¡Tú Cuentas! Cine Youth Fest is a celebration of the impact and influence of Latinx creatives in the film industry. The festival empowers storytellers to share their experiences and culture with the next generation of young content creators and inspires Latinx artists to grow in front and behind the lens.
“Our young Latinx community offers distinct perspectives developed from unique life experiences. These storytellers just need a pathway to make their voices heard and our goal with the film festival is to provide a platform to amplify their work,” said Lina Sands, Director of Marketing at HITN. “Through the ¡Tú Cuentas! Cine Youth Fest, we’re providing them with the opportunity to both express their creativity and encourage an ongoing conversation about social and cultural change.”
HITN received more than 400 submissions of short films encompassing a wide array of production styles, perspectives, and subject matter. The online film festival will present a new selection of short films under a common theme every week:
- Arts and Culture: Sept. 17 – Sept. 25
- The Next Generation of Latinx Filmmakers: Sept. 27 – Oct. 2
- Social Justice, Education and Empowerment: Oct. 4 – Oct. 10
The ¡Tú Cuentas! Cine Youth Fest is being presented in collaboration with educational institutions across New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Pennsylvania, Miami, and San Juan, Puerto Rico. An independent jury will evaluate all entries and select the top 20 finalists based on criteria including awareness of the subject matter, creativity in the approach of the subject matter, technical aspects (such as directing, acting, cinematography and editing), originality, and inspirational and storytelling impact of the piece.
The Cine Youth Fest’s panel of judges comprises distinguished Latinx arts leaders from across the country, including director Freddie Marrero, actor Julio Ramos, projects director at the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) Liliana Espinoza, director, writer, and producer Paloma Suau, Mexican-American actor and producer Raul Torres, film programmer and filmmaker Sophie Gordon, and professor of documentary production and LGBTQ non-fiction studies at Hunter College-CUNY Tami Kashia Gold.
A grand prize winner will be selected from the pool of finalists to receive a cash prize of $5,000. An additional $2,000 student scholarship will be awarded for outstanding work submitted by a student. Other participants with honorable mentions will receive certificates to access virtual learning filmmaking courses. Winners will be announced on Oct. 24, 2021, on HITN-TV at 11 a.m. ET and on the network’s app HITN GO.
The film festival builds on the foundation of HITN’s multi-platform initiative to increase the reach and visibility of independent filmmakers. Along with participating in the film festival and scholarship contest, young filmmakers and creatives had the opportunity to participate in Conversations Among “X”, a series of panel discussions featuring leading voices in the Latinx arts community that were live-streamed across YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitch social media channels.
“Isolation and frustration have been recurring themes throughout 2020-2021, as COVID-19, social injustice and economic uncertainty have affected our communities,” said Luis Alejandro Molina, ¡Tú Cuentas! Cine Youth Fest Director. “Through the film festival, we have two aims – first, to reconnect the bridge between young Latinx and the broader creative community; and second, to provide a showcase for diverse storytelling that inspires and drives positive change.”
To mark the launch of the inaugural film festival, HITN will host the Cine Youth Fest Young Filmmakers Conference on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY from 10:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET. The virtual event is free and open to the public.
During the Young Filmmakers Conference, students will have the opportunity to connect and engage with industry professionals. The event will offer online interactive workshops, panels, and small group Q&A. Some of the highly anticipated sessions will focus on immersive storytelling and cinematography, while others, including the “Filmmakers Roundup” meets, will give students an opportunity to connect directly with award-winning industry experts.