By Mina Briseño
The Mexican-American Cultural Education Foundation (MACEF), a 501c3 organization, proudly announces the upcoming 3rd edition of the Mexican-American Film & Television Festival (MAFTF) slated for April 20 – 21, 2024, at the prestigious Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood. Marking 2024 as the “Year of the Mexican-American/Chicana Filmmaker,” MAFTF will honor accomplished individuals whose groundbreaking contributions have significantly impacted the entertainment industry.
In a dedicated effort to celebrate diversity and inclusivity within the cinematic landscape, MAFTF will pay tribute to four remarkable women during this year’s festival:
• Ivett Merino: Renowned producer, and Oscar Winner for the Academy Award winning film Encanto. Will received the Prestigious MACEf’s President Award.
• Eva Longoria: Her feature film directorial debut of Flamin’ Hot became the highest streaming movie from Searchlight ever and she made the Hollywood Reporter’s Forces for Change Power List for 2023.
• Patricia Riggen: Esteemed director, will be honored with the Trailblazer in Directing Award, known for her work on “Miracles From Heaven.”
• Josefina Lopez: Celebrated playwright and screenwriter, will be honored with the Excellence in Writing Award.
• Bel Hernandez Castillo: Noteworthy journalist and publisher, recognized for documenting the Latino Hollywood success in her publication, Latin Heat.
While embracing the evolving landscape of the entertainment industry, MAFTF seeks to acknowledge the vital role that Chicanas have played in shaping cinematic narratives. Despite Mexican-Americans constituting nearly 70% of all Latinos in the U.S., their contributions have often gone untold and unrecognized.
The festival’s mission is to provide a platform for Mexican-American/Chicano filmmakers to showcase, promote, and celebrate their creative talents. By fostering an environment of networking and support, MAFTF aims to bridge the gap between filmmakers and Hollywood executives, fostering opportunities beyond stereotypes.
The demand for the festival is evident, with over 150 submissions, including feature films, shorts, documentaries, and TV projects, reflecting a diverse range of themes. These stories address identity, high school angst, love, animation, relationships, immigration, marriage, and more, contributing to a vibrant showcase either in-person or virtually over the two-day event.
Statistics from the 2022 Latino Donor Collaborative Media Report emphasize the underrepresentation of Latinos on screen, despite their significant contribution as avid TV consumers and high movie ticket purchases. MAFTF provides a platform for Mexican-American/Chicano filmmakers to share stories that resonate with their communities.
With only 6% of speaking characters on screen being Latino, as reported by USC’s 2023 Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study, MAFTF stands as a crucial initiative in amplifying diverse voices in the film industry.
“Our goal is to turn this trend around,” said MACEF President and Founder, Dr. Jose Luis Ruiz, emphasizes the importance of representation.
“This will not change unless we create the change,” he added.
The festival will honor its distinguished recipients, Patricia Riggen, Josefina Lopez, with retrospective screenings of their impactful projects, Under The Same Moon and Real Women Have Curves respectively. As in previous years MAFTF prestigious panels of judges lead by Festival Awards Director Jerry Velasco and award-winning film and television director, Jesus Trevino will choose among the 150 submission the best in 10 competition categories, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Short Film, Best TV Series, Best Male Actor, Best Female Actress, Best Screenplay for Film, Best Musical, and Best Screenplay for TV.
The two day festival will culminate with the star studded, red-carpet and Oscar styled “Illustrious Award”, where winners and honorees will receive their awards in front of 350 colleagues and movie lovers, taking place on April 21st at 6 PM, capping the festivities.
Film submissions are still being accepted, with a deadline of January 31, 2024. For more information about the 2024 MAFTF, and to purchase tickets, visit www.MexAmCEF.org.
Mexican American Cultural Education Foundation’s mission is to change the negative narrative of Americans of Mexican descent by highlighting their stories and their positive contribution to the U.S.
Produced in association with Latin Heat