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Amazon Studios And LALIFF Announce Winners Of Finishing Fund For Latino Filmmakers

Omni Loop, Sisters, and Papa Melissa selected from over 78 entries for LALIFF Works in Progress program

Amazon Studios and the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) have announced the winners of the inaugural LALIFF Works in Progress, a finishing fund to support independent US-based Latino filmmakers in the completion of a feature film.

The three winning selections are Omni Loop, directed by Bernardo Britto; Sisters, written, produced, and performed by Marta Mendez, Valeria Maldonado, and Virginia Novello; and Papa Melissa, directed by Sophia Stieglitz and produced by Constanza Castro and Dominica Castro.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 04: (L-R) Marta Cross, Valeria Maldonado and Virginia Novello attend the 2023 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. This is the team behind the winning film, Sisters. (Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images)

Over 78 Individual directors and independent production companies submitted a picture-locked cut in the final stages of production for consideration, and the top three were selected based on their unique directorial voice, cultural significance, and commercial viability. The funds will be divided based on each project’s post-production needs. Additionally, Amazon Studios will offer additional support to the filmmakers through mentoring and in-kind resources.

“We are very proud of the winners of our first ever LALIFF Works in Progress competition. We are grateful for Amazon Studios’ support and excited to see these filmmakers complete their feature films” shared LALIFF Artistic Director Diana Cadavid.

“At Amazon Studios we are committed to removing barriers to success at all points in the creative process,” said Jerome Core, Head of US & WW DEIA Content for Amazon Studios. “We are thrilled to join LALIFF in helping these talented creatives achieve their filmmaking goals.”

(L-R) Constanza Castro and Sophia Stieglitz attends the 2023 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival – Closing Night Gala Premiere Of “Problemista” at TCL Chinese Theatre on June 04, 2023 in Hollywood, California. They were the producer (along with Dominica Castro) and director, respectively, of the winning film, Papa Melissa.

LALIFF Works In Progress finishing fund-winning films are:

Omni Loop – Diagnosed with a black hole growing inside her chest and stuck in a loop reliving the last five days of her life, a 55-year-old wife and mother from Miami, Florida decides to solve time travel in order to go back and be the person she always intended to be. Omni Loop stars Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds) and Ayo Edebiri (Bottoms, The Bear). It is directed by Britto and produced by David Hinojosa and Benjamin Cohen. The film was part of the Sundance screenwriters and creative producer labs.

Sisters – Following in the footsteps of their beloved grandmother, three estranged Mexican-American sisters take an adventure through rural Mexico to complete a pilgrimage. Maria, having recently discovered she has cancer, reunites her sisters in hopes of finding a miracle. Yet, as she attempts to keep her illness a secret, the tension between Sofia and Lucia seems to interrupt any chance of healing. With no hiking experience or reception, the sisters encounter challenges at every turn, but with the help of a local botanist with a dark past, the magic of Mexico will fill them with adventure and hope. The disease and the pilgrimage will bind them together in an attempt to find healing, forgiveness, and an unexpected miracle. The film stars writers Mendez, Maldonado, and Novello as well as Cristo Fernandez (Ted Lasso).

Papá Melissa – At home Papá, on the street Melissa. Set in Mexico City, a family of street merchants reconcile with their father’s non-binary identity: exploring gender roles and contradictory emotions. Papá Melissa takes us through an internal battle of crashing beauty constructs and parental duties. Identifying as a two-spirited person, this father and family challenge society’s general beliefs. Directed by Stieglitz and produced by Constanza and Doménica Castro at 271 Films.

Director Bernardo Britto of “Hudson Geese” attends the Shorts Program 1 during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival at Prospector Square Theatre on January 23, 2020 in Park City, Utah. He is also the director behind the winning film Omni Loop. (Photo by Jeremy Chan/Getty Images)

LALIFF Works in Progress is an expansion of Amazon Studios and LFI’s current relationship; Amazon Studios is the exclusive sponsor of LFI’s Youth Cinema Project (YCP) Alumni program for the 2022-2023 school year. The program connects over 300 students to hands-on access and learning opportunities across the industry, including mentoring and assistance with college applications. The sponsorship also includes the inaugural YCP Fellowship initiative, which provided 17 college-bound students with resources to make a high-quality short film to strengthen their film school applications and scholarship opportunities. The finished film screened at LALIFF in June.

Visit https://laliff.org/programs/wip/ for more details on the LALIFF Works in Progress program.

Produced in association with Latin Heat

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