September 27, 2021

Edward James Olmos helps take filmmaking to California classrooms to build lifelong learners

LOS ANGELES — Within the late 90s, actor, filmmaker and activist Edward James Olmos co-founded the Los Angeles Latino Worldwide Movie Pageant.

“I’ve been very fortunate, being able to work in schools, libraries, community centers, hospitals, juvenile halls,” stated Olmos, who has a deep, longstanding dedication to attain younger learners.

The movie pageant is now beneath the Latino Movie Institute, which can also be house to the Youth Cinema Venture (YCP). YCP is now a program at dozens of college districts throughout the state of California.

“The way that the Youth Cinema Project was created is that we realized that the cavalry wasn’t coming. No one was going to come save us, so we needed to save ourselves,” stated Rafael Agustín, a TV author and CEO of the Latino Movie Institute.

Two skilled filmmakers mentor college students, who can enroll as soon as they attain fourth grade.

“It’s the full school year, and they learn how to do all aspects of filmmaking and storytelling,” Olmos stated.

Kimberly Mendiola Leon of Bell Gardens, California — now in highschool — participated in this system, which elevated her confidence and reignited her pursuit of storytelling.

“Since a young age, I really liked writing. I remember I used to write short plays and make puppets out of like old socks and put them on for my family,” stated Mendiola Leon, who stated she stopped believing she wasn’t “good enough.”

“When I joined YCP in middle school, I remember we had to write a script, and one of the mentors told me that he really liked my writing and that I should continue and he sees my he sees me being something in the film industry,” she stated. “That’s what really got me going again into film.”

Previously undocumented immigrant goals to change misrepresentation in TV, movie

Rafael Agustín, now a U.S. citizen, credit his immigration challenges for main him to pursue a profession as a TV author. He goals to change the misrepresentation of undocumented immigrants.

“I always knew we were immigrants. I didn’t know we were undocumented immigrants,” Agustín stated. “In high school, I was an overachieving immigrant student. I was the class president, the prom king, the top 10% of my class. Then I applied to go to college and discovered that I was undocumented,” stated Agustín, who thinks a extra applicable time period is “undocumented American.”

“Many years later, I asked my mom why she didn’t tell me straight up. She said this line I steal from her all the time: ‘We didn’t want you to feel different because dreams should not have borders,'” he stated. “I’m grateful for all my immigration problems because that’s how I ended up in the arts. I was in community college without any direction, without knowing how long I’ll be in this immigration limbo.”

Agustín stated he noticed a examine that discovered undocumented immigrants on tv are much less doubtless to maintain jobs, much less doubtless to be educated, and are extra doubtless to commit crimes than their real-life counterparts.

“That just shows us that the narrative of undocumented Americans on TV is completely skewed,” Agustín stated.

“I think congressman Joaquin Castro stated it best when he said the El Paso mass shooting changed everything. If people are not seeing us as Americans, and as loving community members, [but] are seeing us as the other or as invading foreigners, then things like mass murder occur. And that’s the exact reason why it’s so important to see ourselves represented,” he stated.

Investing in lifelong learners

“Someday I will not need to do a Latino International Film Festival. That’ll be the happiest day of my life because everybody will be into watching films from all over the world. They’ll be celebrating the contributions of Latinos, African Latinos, Africans, Asians, Indigenous,” Olmos stated.

“Our goal is to create lifelong learners,” he stated, referring to the Youth Cinema Venture.

Agustín stated the mission additionally goals to ship each pupil they work with to faculty.

“The icing on the cake would be anyone who wants to work in the entertainment industry, that we create those pipelines and platforms for them,” he stated. “That’s what we’re trying to do as an institute, as a Latino Film Institute. We’re trying to create the pipeline, the platform and the launching pad from our community to the entertainment industry.”

From actors to activists, individuals share tales of celebrating their heritage, expressing their id as Latino, Latinx, or Hispanic, and representing and embracing their numerous cultures. Have a good time Hispanic Heritage Month with “Our America: Todos Unidos” on ABC Owned Tv Stations streaming apps and Hulu.