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Variety’s 10 Latinxs to Watch Brunch Celebrates Diversity in the Community

10 Latinxs to Watch
Courtesy of Miami Film Festival

Saturday afternoon brought rising Latinx filmmakers and actors together at Variety’s 10 Latinxs to Watch brunch held in partnership with the 36th annual Miami Film Festival.

The festive celebration, which took place at the JW Marquis Marriott’s Boulud Sud restaurant, featured a panel discussion moderated by Variety’s Malina Saval with the following five select individuals from the 10 Latinxs to Watch list: writer-director Jayro Bustamante (“Tremors”); horror filmmaker Gigi Saul Guerrero (“Into the Dark”); filmmaker Lila Aviles (“The Chambermaid”); actor Daniel Zovatto (“Lady Bird,” “Penny Dreadful”); and actor Marcel Ruiz (“One Day at a Time,” “Breakthrough”).

Festival director Jaie Laplante was also on hand to present the talent with their awards.

“We’re all different colors and sizes. We’re all Latino,” said Zovatto, who, while Costa Rican, was told by many in the biz when he first started out that he wasn’t “Latino enough.”

“It’s a big culture, it’s a big community of people,” he continued. “And I feel like in the States people had an idea and misconception of what that was. And I think slowly, because of us and everybody else that came before us — Diego Luna and Gael Garcia [Bernal] — they’re really opening so many doors for us. It was crazy at first. I was like, ‘What do you mean I’m not Latino? I’m f—ing 100% Latino, man!’ And I would start speaking in Spanish and I have my cellular (phone) here, I’m Costa Rican. But then I chilled out and was like, ‘Okay, it is what it is. It’s probably gonna take a few more years of breaking that wall.”

Bustamante, whose film “Tremors” chronicles the rampant homophobia among the devout Catholic in his native Guatemala, said he based the movie’s lead character, Pablo, on countless interviews with real-life gay men struggling with their identity in the Central American country.

“I started with this idea when I met the first ‘Pablo,’ who inspired the character, and I was faced with gay men who were homophobic,” he said. “And after that I continued to research and found 22 ‘Pablos’ who told me their stories and a majority of these ‘Pablos’ used a woman to cope with this shame.”

For Guerrero, a native of Mexico City, being a female horror filmmaker in an industry that’s primarily saturated by men may actually be a major plus.

“I think especially for horror being mainly male dominated, in a way I like to look at it not as a disadvantage but as an advantage to stand out a little bit, but also encourage other women to do it,” she said. “I feel very lucky to be alive not only during the wave of not just women in horror coming out the last five years, but Latin horror now. It’s actually become a sub genre and now it’s become a name.”