Dominican Shorts Program

Dominican Shorts.
Curated by Tanya Valette.
In Spanish with English subtitles.

Ysrael / Dirección Leticia Tonos / 11:31 min.
Adaptation of a short story by Junot Díaz. Two boys from a marginal city neighborhood go to spend a family vacation in the countryside, finding themselves faced with an estrangement not so different from that of the short story’s author. The director has made the transition from literature to film with a complicit eye and in a moving and honest way.

Adaptación de un cuento de Junot Díaz. Dos niños de un barrio marginal de la ciudad, van a pasar unas vacaciones familiares al campo, encontrando allí un desarraigo que no es ajeno al autor del cuento. La mirada cómplice de la realizadora hace de este pasaje de la literatura a la pantalla, una pieza conmovedora y honesta.

La Mujer de Columbus Circle / Dirección Freddy Vargas / 39:25
Adaptation of a short story by Franklin Gutiérrez. The encounter of a young banker with a disquieting woman in a subway station of New York changes his perception of a reality that comes in layers.

Adaptación de un cuento de Franklin Gutiérrez. El encuentro de un joven banquero, con una inquietante mujer, en una estación de metro de New York, cambia su percepción sobre las distintas capas de la realidad.

Pedro de Bella Vista y su Sueño / Dirección Rodrigo Montealegre / 15:17 min
A short movie situated at the limits between documentary and fiction, and between the two subjectivities of the author and his subject.

Cortometraje que bordea los límites del documental y la ficción y entre dos subjetividades: la del autor y su sujeto.

Vecino / Dirección Argenis Mills / 11:05 min.
A Dominican emigrant comes to live in a big city and struggles painfully to survive amidst the nostalgia and the difficulties of his adjustment to his new environments and friends.

Un emigrante dominicano en una gran ciudad y su dolorosa lucha interior por sobrevivir en medio de la nostalgia y las dificultades tanto de su propia adaptación, como la del entorno que lo ha recibido.

Papá está en el Cielo / Dirección Francisco Rodríguez / 6:00 min.
The innocence of a boy and the inner workings of Trujillo’s dictatorship come together in this subtle and startling short movie.

La inocencia de un niño y los engranajes de la dictadura de Trujillo conviven en este corto sutil y sobrecogedor.


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Chon Noriega: keynote lecturer

chon noriega

Chon Noriega is a professor at UCLA in the Department of Film and Television, and director of the Chicano Studies Research Center there. He has authored one book and edited nine on Latino media (, not to mention the innumerable articles he has penned on “Latino media, performance, and visual art” ( Besides these written works, Noriega has also produced two documentaries ( Besides academia, Noriega is also involved in media policy, and he is one of the co-founders of the NALIP (National Association of Latino Independent Producers) ( He curates various art projects and has been involved in film restoration projects, and he is responsible for the restoration of the first three films directed by Chicanos (

for more information:

LA Times article: “Chon Noriega’s schedule is exhausting”

UCLA Department of Chicana/o Studies

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Bless Me, Última

bless me ultima

Based on the acclaimed novel by Rudolfo Anaya, the film tells the poignant story of Antonio, a young boy coming of age in New Mexico during World War II. When a curandera named Última comes to live with his family, she teaches him about the power of the spiritual world—a world that has its roots in indigenous beliefs and practices. As their relationship grows, Antonio begins to question the strict Catholic doctrine of his parents. Through a series of mysterious events Antonio must grapple with questions of his faith and how to reconcile Ultima’s powers with those of the God of his church.

for more information:

A comprehensive guide to the book and the author


Assignments for the film:

What perspective of the United States does this film suggest for you? and of Latinos living in the US

How do you interpret Última? What does her magic represent?

What impact does Última have on Antonio’s life?

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This nuanced adaptation of Esmeralda Santiago’s novel América’s Dream(1997) retraces the plight of a Puerto Rican mother named América, as she flees an abusive lover from her native Puerto Rico. Seeking refuge and a new life in New York, América befriends three domestic coworkers—a Mexican, a Colombian, and a Dominican. With their support, she sets out to find and reconnect with her runaway 14-year-old daughter, and in the process is forced to confront the cycle of violence that haunts her.

for more information:

Review of film adaptation on, by Maritza Stanchich


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Jean Gentil

jean gentil

Based on a true story, Jean Gentil is a well-educated Haitian man who has lived for many years in the Dominican Republic without being able to find steady work. A fervent believer, Jean undertakes a voyage across the country asking God what he wants him to be. Dominican-Mexican directors Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas expose a country unknown to many, with breathtaking landscapes, rarely seen sites of Santo Domingo, and the quiet humor of the conversations Jean has with those he meets on his way. In Spanish languae with English subtitles. Directors Laura Amelia Guzmán and Israel Cárdenas are scheduled to be present.

for more information:

Interview with the directors of the film [Spanish]


Assignments for the film:

¿Cuántos idiomas habla Jean Gentil? ¿Por qué es importante eso?

Describa la personalidad de Jean Gentil. Él está inspirado en una persona real. ¿Por qué se interesaron los directores por él?

¿Cómo comenta esta película sobre la relación entre haitianos y dominicanos?

Describa cómo la cámara representa el paisaje y la ciudad en esta película. Qué colores dominan, qué ambientes se evocan?

¿Cómo cambia esta película sus ideas sobre la República Dominicana?

jean gentil assignment.doc

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In the Time of the Butterflies

in the time of the butterflies

Based on Julia Álvarez’s bestselling novel, this fact-based story follows the four Mirabal sisters during the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo (Edward James Olmos) in the Dominican Republic. Minerva (Salma Hayek), the most rebellious of the four sisters, begins to have doubts about Trujillo while in Catholic school; she later studies law in Santo Domingo, yet is prevented by Trujillo from exercising her profession. She meets a young professor, Virgilio (Marc Anthony), who introduces her to the opposition movement against Trujillo, which has its consequences. Edward James Olmos is scheduled to be present.

for more information:

In the Time of the Butterflies (the novel) 


Assignment questions:

(en Español)

  1. ¿Cuál es la situación política de la República Dominicana en la película? ¿Cómo cambia el ambiente político durante la película?
  2. ¿Qué importancia tienen las hermanas Mirabal hoy en día? ¿Qué mensaje tiene la película para el público estadounidense?
  3. ¿Cuáles son las características claves de cada una de las hermanas? ¿Qué circunstancias o eventos las convirtieron en las personas adultas que vemos al final?

(in English)

  1. What is the political situation of the Dominican Republic in this film? How does the political atmosphere change during the film?
  2. What importance do the Mirabal sisters have today? What message does the film carry for an American audience?
  3. What are the key characteristics of the sisters? What circumstances or events turn them into the mature people we see at the end?
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Go For Sisters

go for sisters

Bernice (LisaGay Hamilton) and Fontayne (Yolonda Ross) grew up so close people said they could “go for sisters”, but time sent them down different paths. Twenty years later, those paths cross: Fontayne is a recovering addict fresh out of jail, and Bernice is her new parole officer.

When Bernice’s son Rodney goes missing on the Mexican border, his shady associates all in hiding or brutally murdered, Bernice realizes she needs someone with the connections to navigate Rodney’s world without involving the police… and turns to her old friend. The pair enlist the services of disgraced ex-LAPD detective Freddy Suárez (Edward James Olmos) and plunge into the dim underbelly of Tijuana, forced to unravel a complex web of human traffickers, smugglers, and corrupt cops before Rodney meets the same fate as his partners.

As much a story of relationships as a story of crime, GO FOR SISTERS is a welcome return to the border for master filmmaker and two-time Academy Award nominee John Sayles (“Lone Star,” “Passion Fish”).

for more information:

official movie website

Roger Ebert review

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