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Latino talent in spotlight: 'Be Mine' horror movie premieres in Hartford

Producer John Cruz during production of "Be Mine."
“Be Mine” was independently produced as a way to provide creative opportunities for its Latino creators.

The horror movie, "Be Mine," premieres this weekend at the Trinity College movie theater. Filmed throughout Hartford County, “Be Mine” is generating excitement in the Hispanic community because it is produced and written by Latino talent.

The film focuses on a sociopathic man called Edward who struggles with life.

John Cruz, the creator of "Be Mine," grew up in Puerto Rico and now calls Connecticut home. He said it took two years to develop the storyline and cast the actors.

"We had an amazing crew; we had an amazing cast,” Cruz said. “And overall, I think, the way we came together to make this film happen was very good."

The production occurred in multiple locations, such as East Hartford, Hartford and Bristol. All the locations were owned by small businesses that lent their space for the movie.

“Be Mine” was independently produced as a way to provide creative opportunities for its Latino creators.

A 2021 study by The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalismindicates that Hispanic/Latino actors only comprised 5% of roles in Hollywood.

The Motion Picture Association (MPA)shows that in 2021 Latinos went to the movies an average of 1.7 times. The highest rate compared to other ethnicities. And Latinos, who make up 19% of the population, accounted for 24% of movie tickets sold in 2021.

Hispanic/Latino characters have also stereotyped and marginalized portrayals on Hollywood's big screen. Whether as criminals, in low-level occupations, or in depictions that render Hispanics/Latinos "foreign," movies perpetuate a picture of Hispanics/Latinos as the dangerous outsiders.

Cruz said Latinos are more than that stereotype the big screen portrays, and it's time to take pride in their heritage and what Hispanics can do as creators.

Actor Gavin Damian prepares for a scene in "Be Mine," premiering in Hartford the July 8, 2023.
Actor Gavin Damian prepares for a scene in "Be Mine," premiering in Hartford the July 9, 2023.

"So being Puerto Rican is everything to me," Cruz said. "I take pride in where I'm from. And I'll never forget that my roots in Puerto Rico have always been my first home."

Gavin Damian-Lorin is a 25-year-old actor from South Brooklyn, New York, from Peruvian and American parents. He plays the lead character Edward. He agrees there's more to do for diversity and inclusion in Hollywood productions.

"I'm half Peruvian; my dad's from Peru. I feel like there's definitely been a lot of talk about, you know, people that are white in this industry and stuff like that being, you know, kind of ahead of the curve in terms of getting opportunities and stuff, but I do think that's kind of shifting."

Damian-Lorin says his character Edward, is dangerous to society.

"I was talking with John and working with him about the character and getting his vision,” Damian-Lorin said. “It was a very physical approval process. I feel like there's no right way to kind of get into a character that's so intense and scary."

Damian said his passion for acting and doing that hard character work came from his grandmother.

"She's actually in the film industry in Peru,” Damian-Lorin said. “She's just a huge inspiration for me, and just knowing about her and knowing about where I come from."

Cruz said that after the film, he started to receive support from the community, but he wished it was before the movie was done.He said Latino creators need the support of organizations and the community to bring their talent to the next level. He said his total budget for “Be Mine” was roughly $6,000 but
the only stress he felt in the production was wanting to make his city and the island of Puerto Rico proud.

“Be Mine” premieres Sunday, July 9, at CineStudio Hartford. The red carpet starts at 5:30 p.m., where people can meet the producer and actors before the film.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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