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UCLA Magazine Fall 2003
ˇViva Cinema!
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Fall 2003
¡Viva Cinema!
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"Carlos was the one who gave me the application for the San Antonio Cine Festival (the longest-running Latino film festival in the nation), because I didn't even know you were supposed to submit your film," Cardoso laughs. "My UCLA classmate Francisco Velasquez M.F.A. '01 brought the camera and all the film stock down to me in Colombia so I could shoot The Water Carrier. My classmates were the ones I thanked when I won the Student Academy Award. We're still close and give feedback on each other's films almost 10 years after leaving UCLA."

The bond filmmakers like Cardoso and Avila experienced at UCLA often carries over into a business that continues to marginalize Latinos both in front of and behind the camera. Alex Nogales '73 is in his third term as president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, a Los Angeles-based group that monitors Latino representation in the entertainment industry. Nogales notes that of the 15 Latinos in his UCLA undergrad film class of the early '70s, only two or three were able to sustain a career of 10 years or longer in the industry. Nogales says it was not due to any lack of talent or training, but simply a woeful lack of opportunity.

"Certainly there are more options now than when I was entering the business in the 1970s," he observes. "But the 2003 U.S. Census numbers show Latinos as the nation's largest minority group at 13.6 percent (36 million), with an estimated buying power of $650 billion. Yet Latino directors still only account for 2 percent of the entertainment industry, and Latino writers less than 1 percent. The Screen Actors Guild numbers for Latinos working in the industry are the highest they've ever been at 6 percent. But that is deceptive; regular or recurring roles on any of the six television networks are closer to 1 percent. It's amazing that Latinos make up 47 percent of L.A. County, literally right here in Hollywood's backyard, yet we are still so vastly underrepresented in this industry."

Nogales calls UCLA an "incubator" for up-and-coming Latino talent and admits that without a new generation being nurtured and trained, Latino stories would have zero chance of getting on screen. But he cautions that "young filmmakers coming out of UCLA need jobs and opportunities in their chosen field to make a difference; otherwise, where does all that education go? To work in a florist's shop, as one of my old classmates now does?" Nogales notes impatiently.

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