The Rapidian

La Soga screens at Third annual Latin American Film Fest

Dominican Republic film "La soga" was shared at Wealthy Theatre. The film's writer, producer and lead actor Manny Perez is in the building! An amazing day two of the Latin American Film Festival.
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Latin American Film Festival welcomes a very special guest.

Wealthy Theatre hosted the final three days of the third annual Latin American Film Festival and it was all free! Culture and great movies abound.

Where can you find two hundred people riveted to their seats with wide eyes glued to the screen? Non native Spanish speakers who are fluent? This group had gathered to see the first film from the Dominican Republic shown at the acclaimed Toronto Film Festival and to enjoy hot buttery popcorn served with a smile. On top of that, admission was free?

All this was found at Wealthy Theatre during the showing of "La soga", or "sly, cunning fellow." The film was one of the many Latin films that were screened at the Latin American Film Festival (LAFF). This is the festival’s third year in existence and the “crowds have been increasing each year,” according to Zulema Moret, one of LAFF’s organizers. Moret is a professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at GVSU and has been a part of the festival from the beginning.

In keeping with the Dominican theme, local Dominican Republic restaurant Sabor Latino catered the evening’s event. Coming down from Grandville Ave, they brought platanitos fritos, arroz con pollo, gandules, and empanadas for the attendees to feast on. 

While waiting for the film to start, I chatted with the evening’s guest, "La soga"’s writer, producer and lead actor, Manny Perez. Perez was born in the Dominican Republic, but moved with his family to Rhode Island when he was eleven. Eventually he wound up in New York and graduated with a drama degree from Marymount Manhattan College in 1992 and got his first acting gig in 1993. Since then he has been involved in over 50 TV shows and films, won an ALMA award in 2008 and has even had dinner with Leonel Fernandez, president of the Dominican Republic.

When asked why he started writing and producing Perez explained simply, "I just wasn’t getting the roles I wanted." Although he had gotten some recognition from critics, peers and moviegoers, he wasn’t completely satisfied. He decided he would write characters for himself and it seems to have served him well. 

"La soga" was made for $150,000 (U.S.) and was shot on location in the Domincan Republic and New York City. It is based on true events, including Perez seeing a friend get killed when he was much younger. "La soga" is basically a revenge thriller, with the added distinction of exposing the deep level of corruption that exist(ed) on some levels in the Dominican Republic’s police force. It attempts to show just how large the class discrepancy is as well. Perez mentioned he got a lot of intense emails after the film came out. The “poor” loved it but the “rich” felt as though the film would kill tourism. Through "La soga", Perez was invited to the screen the film for the Dominican Republic’s President Fernandez. The president loved it and thanked Perez for “showing the world what he is fighting against."

Perez is currently promoting the most recent film he wrote and stars in called "Forged." "Forged" was filmed in Scranton, PA due to it's cold and industrial feel and revolves around a recently paroled man who killed his wife in front of their son. The same team that produced and shot "La soga" is responsible for "Forged." With the similarities in theme, maybe Perez truly has found his voice in the film world. 

Those interested in more information on the Latin American Film Festival or making a donation can email Zulema Moret

 

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