May 24, 2019
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Mexican director says he wants to see more Latinos in English-language films

 Mexican actor and director Guillermo Ivan poses for EFE on March 8, 2019, during an interview in Miami, Florida. EPA-EFE / Latif Kassidi

Mexican actor and director Guillermo Ivan poses for EFE on March 8, 2019, during an interview in Miami, Florida. EPA-EFE / Latif Kassidi

Miami, Mar 12 (epa-efe).- Mexican film director Guillermo Ivan said in an interview with EFE that the English language is his ally in getting Latinos out of the "fishbowl" with films like "Welcome to Acapulco," his latest and "biggest" production premiering this week.

Ivan, who lives in New York and is also an actor and producer, said that the action comedy, which was made available on demand and through streaming services on Tuesday in the United States, is about an "anti-hero" and reflects his aim of "telling universal stories in English, but with Latino elements."

"Latinos nowadays want to see themselves portrayed not just as an X-ray of someone in a fishbowl," said Ivan regarding the way Hollywood portrays Hispanics as simple demographic statistics, "unassimilated" or as the classic "immigrant cliche," all the while given that there are many other examples of Hispanics in leadership positions in the professional realm, business and government.

"Creating stories that have Latinos speaking in English or in (both English and Spanish) and mixing them in with their culture allows us to understand that we are integrated (into society)," the director, whose full name is Guillermo Ivan Dueñas, said.

He went on to say that cinema is "one of the best weapons for telling about what we are and who we are."

"Welcome to Acapulco" combines American actors such as Michael Madsen, Paul Sorvino, William Baldwin and Mike Kingsbaker with stars from Mexican soap operas such as Ana Serradilla, Ana Layevska, Osvaldo de Leon and Ivan himself.

It also mixes the universe of video games with a "vintage city with the glamor of the '70s like Acapulco," he said.

On the other hand, the filmmaker said that English opens the doors to other markets, such as Russia, where "Welcome to Acapulco" premiers on Thursday, or Portugal, where the movie will premiere on March 19.

"Sadly, our cinema in Spanish (has little reach), it doesn't have the possibility of getting into other markets because of the way the industry is constituted," he said.

He mentioned, however, that there are clear exceptions such as the three-time Academy Award-winning film "Roma," in part due to the popularity of its director, Mexico's Alfonso Cuaron.

Ivan recalled with humor that his career began by chance at the age of 6, when he was walking through a park in the western Mexican city of Guadalajara where a comedy was being filmed and the presence of a boy like him - who was then "a little funny, fat kid" - was needed to shout "Crazy old woman!"

That short film involvement and the influence of parents devoted to sculpture and music led him to become a soap-opera actor at a young age.

Educated in Mexico City, Havana and New York, Ivan said that the classes he took for eight years in Cuba, the homeland of his mother's family, greatly influenced his career.

"That changed my life, that made me understand acting, theater and film from the academic point of view, and not just as a game," he said.

The 38-year-old owner of Golden Ceiba Productions splits his time between being a director and a TV series and soap-opera actor, but he does not want to have to choose among their many facets because - he says - they are professions that cannot be compared.

Ivan, who has acted in soap operas like "Al otro lado del muro" (On the other side of the wall), also returns this Sunday to the small screen as the right hand man of a drug lord inspired by Sinaloa's cocaine kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, convicted and imprisoned in the United States.

In this leading role in the series "El desconocido: La historia del Cholo Adrian" (The Unknown: The Story of Cholo Adrian), which premiered in 2017, the actor highlights the show's effort to "understand the human side" of even the most sordid individuals and activities.

He said that Cinelatino's action drama shows the "fragility" of El Cholo, who "is afraid just like any human being."

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