Latino cinema ‘leaves traces’

The Los Angeles International Latino Film Festival (LALIFF, for its acronym in English) is going strong in its 21st edition. After having adapted to the sanitary conditions imposed by COVID and adjusting its program to virtuality in 2021, this 2022 the renowned contest is reunited with an audience already eager to see, in person, the work of Latino filmmakers, actresses and actors, producers and other audiovisual professionals who make the film industry a diverse, multicultural and audacious space.

This year’s program includes narrative films, documentaries, feature films, and short films produced in Latin America, Puerto Rico, the United States, and Canada. 50 percent of the films, which will be screened at LALIFF, are directed by women.

One of those productions is “Fingerprint”, by the Dominican actress, writer and director Gabriela Ortega. The 14-minute short film explores the stages of mourning for a flamenco dancer named Daniela. With skill, talent and experiencing art as the only way to transcend pain and a kind of generational curse, the protagonist seeks a cure for all her traumas in this spectacular and powerful Spanish genre.

“I knew that I wanted to direct a fiction. Up to this point I had co-directed, written, acted in, and made a documentary as a director, and I realized that I fell in love with directing, because my background comes from theater and acting. For this reason, in the pandemic I saw this opportunity to reinvent myself, because I was reflecting a lot on grief, migration and my place in the world. I connected a lot while I was far away, because I am from the Dominican Republic, and I began to connect with that spirituality, that family heritage, ”says the 26-year-old filmmaker in conversation with AL DÍA from her residence in Los Angeles. “I had a dream and I saw that chain of women, like they were all connected and danced together and that image inspired me to write “Huella”, because we were and still are in a time with a lot of mourning and a lot of loss. Even after making the film, I lost my grandmother, so it was all very crazy to live the short film up to a certain point, ”she points out about the creative process of her short film.

Ortega has wanted to put the figure of women and the tradition that is transmitted from generation to generation in a central axis. To do this, she appealed to stories told in her family environment, and wove in her mind cycles lived by her ancestors in an oppressive military dictatorship that has shed blood and violated women’s rights for more than three decades in her native country. “The issue of child marriage had always caught my attention, the link with the Catholic Church, the hypocrisy, the duality, how we idolize certain figures, and at the same time we don’t care for the people next to us. And they were things that he wanted to subtly explore, but the story is about this girl (Daniela). When I touch on political issues or social issues in my work, I don’t like to do it literally, I like to approach them from a character, or from a specific story or a very intimate bond”, she adds. “With my work, I hope to be able to say something, reflect something of what is happening in the world. For me, art is that, how we can be a mirror for what is happening, what has happened and how things repeat themselves or how they can change ”, she indicates.

And the one chosen to play this character wrapped in allegories and symbolism has been Shakira Barrera: a Latina who exudes authenticity. “She came to collaborate with us with a lot of passion to make art. And I always remember one of the last days of shooting, in which she had been dancing for hours and hours, she looked exhausted, but she looked at us and said: Guys, we are making art! It was a special moment because she showed how committed she was to the project”, comments the Brazilian Rafael Thomaseto, who together with Helena Sardinha, is a producer of “Huella”. “Shakira is one of the best people I’ve ever worked with, and I know I want to work with her for many more years. Shakira Barrera: remember the name. She is a literal star, ”says Ortega.

The short film was produced as part of Lena Waithe’s Rising Voices grant and has been included in the official selection of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, the Aspen Shortsfest 2022, and the Milwaukee Film Festival also this year. It will be screened at the Los Angeles Latino Film Festival on June 2 (in person at the TCL Chinese Theaters in Hollywood, California) and virtually on the 5th of the same month. More information can be obtained at

Latino cinema ‘leaves traces’