A different approach to Latinos in Hollywood
“The Latino community embraces many colors within”. This is a statement by Alejandro Delgado, actor and producer of Proof Sheet, an independent movie that smartly breaks many clichés regarding how the American show business portrays Hispanics.
This is a story of two interweaving mysteries unfolding back in 1999, which adds a period charm to the showpiece.
The scriptwriter and director Richard Kilroy tells us about the idea that engines the plot: “A good deal of murder mysteries take place in posh surroundings, rich people doing naughty things to each other. I wanted to go in another direction. Why not have a complex murder mystery that takes place among the working-class? Instead of Pacific Palisades, why not East L.A.?”
And Delgado summarizes: “In our countries there is a rich mixture of races from other continents or ‘mestizaje’, where whites, blacks, browns and everything in between are found. In Proof Sheet, Latinos play the good, the bad and everything within that range.”
John Leguizamo said in a recent Open Letter to Los Angeles Times: “The Latino population is larger than the white population in California, and yet we are not represented accordingly. The metrics are on our side, but the system is not.”
Proof Sheet enjoys a two-thirds Latino cast. Is this the right timing for such proposal? I do have the feeling the answer will be positive.
Some facts about Latino population
This movie is being released at a moment when the Hispanic or Latino population grew from 50.5 million (16.3% of the U.S. population) in 2010 to 62.1 million (18.7%) in 2020, according to the most recent census data.
Furthermore, if the US Latinos were a standalone country, they would account for the 5th largest GDP in the world. Despite being less than 20% of the population, they have been responsible for 73% of the growth of the workforce; as stated by the 2022 LDC U.S. Latino GDP Report.
But at the same time, fifty-nine percent of Hispanics said they felt invisible or underrepresented in the media and seventy-five percent reported seeing stereotypical portrayals in television programming and movies.
These are some of the findings by a recent report from Cultural Insights Impact Measure, published by Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Market, AIMM.
The Insider recently quoted a new report found that less than 6% of characters featured in films in 2019 were Latino. Additionally, even when Latinos are featured in films, these portrayals are often riddled with stereotypes.
Cultural Insights Impact Measure goes even deeper, stating that “The flow of Latino content in English continues to be deplorable” and “Despite big promises to invest in diversity and inclusion, the entertainment industry has a long way to go.” This is the ground where Proof Sheet premieres.
Angel Lopez, 21, working at his uncle’s photo lab, closes the shop one night and discovers a roll of film marked ‘RUSH’ in the night drop box. As he processes the prints, images appear that will change his life forever: 24 black and white photos of a beautiful young woman being attacked in her apartment.
For Angel, this proof sheet becomes a visual map that sends him on an obsessive journey into LA’s dark underbelly at the turn of the millennium.
Juan Javier Cardenas
Kilroy remarks: “I wrote Proof Sheet along with my writing partner, Eduardo Santiago, wanting to craft a film with two puzzles in play, two mysteries – and see if these two plots can intertwine and have greater meaning to each other while doing so.”
Proof Sheet goes far beyond beloved landmark films portraying Latinos, such as West Side Story or La Bamba, which introduced our heritage to the American big-screen. Well into the third decade of the third millennium, Latinos are deeply involved in every aspect of this country and deals with the same challenges every other person in the U. S. faces.
Those of us who have pre-screened Proof Sheet so far, highlight a slight resemblance to classic suspense movies, with a hint of Hitchcock. It is, first and foremost, a movie of characters and actors. It is a joy to find a fascinating theatrical mood, achieved by the stage experience of the director, who has recently directed for the Los Angeles Theater Company.
Kilroy began his work in film as a visual f/x artist. Among the titles he worked on were ‘Rambo III’, ‘Karate Kid III’ and Best Picture Oscar winner, ‘Driving Miss Daisy’. He also worked on ’Terminator 2’ and ’Titanic’ as a matte artist. Meanwhile, he wrote and directed short films to hone his cinema skills.
A second look at Proof Sheet reveals a beautifully shot film, not only stand out the well-crafted work of Director of Photography Jonathan Pope highlighting the 5 most powerful elements of cinematography and a virtuoso use of color; but the exceptional talent of the cast, as well as the combination of skill, talent, and attention to detail of Editor Keith Clark, the key to catch the eye of the audience.
Maria Conchita Alonso
The main cast features Leo Llenas, Juan Javier Cardenas, Alejandro Delgado, Laura Arias, Eileen Grubba, Catherine Lidstone, Gabriel Romero, and Allene Quincy; with Valente Rodriguez, and Maria Conchita Alonso.
Being a movie with a Latino majority in the cast does not make it a film about Latinos. It is a story that checks all the boxes of a mystery that happens to unfold in a Latino setting, a spot in Los Angeles, one of the most diverse cities in America. This is a fact reflected in each frame of the movie.
Proof Sheet is currently starting its journey to film festivals. Thenceforward, it will premiere in movie theaters and streaming platforms, on a date yet to be determined. For further information about Proof Sheet you can visit their website at www.proofsheetthemovie.com
or their Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/proofsheetmovie/.