An Interview with LAKE LOS ANGELES Actor Roberto Sanchez

On the first evening of MIFFecito, I had the opportunity to talk with the male lead of Mike Ott’s LAKE LOS ANGELES, while the Cuban-born/Miami-raised actor was attending his film’s premiere at the mini film fest presented by the Miami International Film Festival.

The muted, yet heartrending drama, LAKE LOS ANGELES, completes the award-winning filmmaker’s desert trilogy, (Littlerock (2010), Pearblossom Hwy (2012),). This trio of films observes the fallacy of the American Dream as experienced by immigrants in American small towns.

Sanchez plays Francisco, is a middle-aged Cuban man who works odd construction jobs in the desert-landscaped Lake Los Angeles, -an abandoned community, with a long-ago dried up lake, in California’s L. A. county. He also makes money on the side by providing his home as a holding house for illegal Mexican immigrants.

This is how he crosses path with Cecilia (Johanna Trujillo), an orphaned, 10 year-old Mexican girl. 

Actor Roberto Sanchez at MIFFecito with LAKE LOS ANGELES Photo Credit: Abraham Marquez

Q: How did this role come to you?

Roberto Sanchez:

I worked with the director, Mike Ott, on two previous films. This film is part of a trilogy, and initially the story was about Cecilia, a little Mexican girl played by Johanna Trujillo.Mike knew about my personal backstory; how I came to this country, so he decided to put our stories together.

Q: What drew you to take this part made challenging with so little dialogue?

Roberto Sanchez:

I had a few other lead roles before, but never anything like this. First of all, it was my first doing an entire film in Spanish; which I loved the challenge that.

Also, I just resonated with the story. When I read the script, and the whole time we were filming, I just kept thinking about my mom and how she came to this country from Cuba. How she didn’t speak the language; didn’t know anybody, and how she coped and managed.

So it was a pretty personal story for me.

There’s a song used in the film, Porque Te Vas

Q. That song was on the record your character plays for Cecilia?

Roberto Sanchez:

Yes, Mike knows it from a female singer, and I know it from a Latin singer, José Luis Perales, that my mom used to play that when I was a kid. And, I asked him “why did you pick that song?” He said that he didn’t know; he just loved it.

Q: How did you come to Hollywood from Miami?

Roberto Sanchez:

I came to Miami when I was three from Cuba. I grew up here, then, I went into the military for 11 years. I started acting late in life; I was in my 30’s.

After the military, I went to Atlanta and got into modeling, of all things, and that led to commercials. I was happy, but I missed Miami, my family, friends, the food, the ambiente

So I relocated back here, and started working for the Miami metro rail. And, I had my first audition ever for a film, called “2 Fast, 2 Furious”. I didn’t know anything about the film, so my agent told go rent the first one so you can see what it was about. So, I saw it was about fast cars.

I must of have done well at the audition, because they called me three weeks later. They told me they were going to give me a callback. So, I ask my agent “what do I do?”, and she said do actually what you did the first time.

So, I went back to work at the Metro, where I was already feeling burnt out from. I just started the five o’clock rush hour shift, and there was a big dude smoking. I know I got to tell him to stop, and I already know how this conservation is going to go. So, I call the situation in to officer at the next station. At the same time, my cell phone starts to ring.


I see it’s my agent, and wondering if I should take it. I answer the phone, and she was just screaming “Oh my god you got it”.

I asked her was does that mean, she said well you going have to take a leave of absence or quit your job, because your going to work in LA for three months, and here’s how much your going to be making.

I said “What?! Don’t lie to me!”, and she said “No, really!” I was the only one casted from Miami. The rest of the actors were from LA.

 Then, I looked back to the big dude on the train, and said to him, “You can go ahead and smoke the whole pack for all I care.” The train stopped; the officer was coming on board, and I told him, “Dude, I’m out!” I had only been at work for 20 minutes, when went back to the station office, and give my two weeks notice.

Now, I am living in LA.

Besides going around promoting this film, I have a couple of films coming out, The Night Crew with “Machete” Danny Trejo, and a horror film, Visions, with Eva Longoria.




MIFFecito Film Festival Review: CONDUCTA

The provocative Cuban drama CONDUCTA  (Behavior), directed by Ernesto Daranas (Fallen Gods), opened the MIFFecito festival. The Havana-based filmmaker attended the screening of his award-winning film, which has been submitted by Cuba to the 87th Academy Awards® for Best Foreign Language film nomination.

In a Q&A follow-up to the film, Daranas described CONDUCTA as a small, grassroots-supported film that received its financing by the “Espíritu Santo”, (Holy Spirit). Therefore, while to be nominated for an Oscar is every directors dream, based on the funds needed to subsidize an Oscar campaign this realization would be unlikely.

If so, this would be a cinematic travesty.

While the film jabs the thoughtlessly habitual compliance of Cuba’s status quo, it is a powerfully emotional portrayal of how circumstances of economic hardship victimizes its most vulnerable citizens; its children.

Daranas’ script was inspired by heroic figures in his and his son’s early life, their teachers. In CONDUCTA, a talented, but aging teacher, Carmela (exceptionally portrayed by Alina Rodríguez, The Waiting List), rebels against her headmaster and other school officials to preserve the future opportunities of two troubled students, incorrigible Chala and studious Yeni (both played by untrained actors).

Without a doubt, Armando Valdes Freire as Chala delivers the films’ most powerful performances. This charming 12 year-old boy is as captivating in the poignant scenes with his teacher or his addicted young mother (Silvia Aguila, Fallen Gods) as he is in playful scenes with fellow first-time actors, his school friends and Yeni (Amaly Junco), as his first boyhood crush.

Daranas shot his limited budgeted CONDUCTA in his own aged La Habana province, where he also found the kids to fill the film’s many pubescent roles.

 Watch the trailer:

MIFFecito Film Festival Opening Night Film & Party

The Miami International Film Festival (MiamiFF) served up MIFFecito, a long weekend program of film premieres, (10/16 – 10/19).

Little Havana’s Tower Theaters on Calle Ocho or 8th Street, a popular destination for a Cuban cafecito, hosted the mini film fest. The provocative  Cuban drama CONDUCTA  (Behavior), directed by Ernesto Daranas (Fallen Gods), opened the MIFFecito festival.

After the film, film goers walked over to the nearby opening night party at the Ball & Chain nightclub. Once at the retro 50’s Havana nightspot, they were greeted by The Nick Tannura Trio, a Miami-based Jazz combo, and passed hors d’oeuvres.

The opening night party was sponsored by Stella Artois and Bombay Sapphire. As a new alternative to their popular imported beer, the Belgium lager maker introduced guests to their apple cider ale, Stella Cidre.

The premium gin brand staged cocktail-making stations throughout the inside of the club as well as the large outdoor patio in the back, where party goers received expert lessons on how to make their favorite gin cocktails from Bombay’s mixologists.

An Interview with PARASIO Film Director Mariana Chenillo

On a sunny autumn day, Mariana Chenillo’s PARASIO (Paradise), premiered at MIFFecito, the Miami International Film Festival’s weekend-long film program, and prelude to its upcoming main annual festival event, (March 2015).

The Mexican filmmaker’s romantic drama centers on a deeply in-love, but overweight married couple, skillfully played by veteran actor Andres Almeida and first-time film actress Daniela Rincon. The spouse’s relationship suffers when, humiliated by social weight-loss chatter, they mutually seek to shrink their plus-sized bodies.

This thoughtful take on society’s obsession with “the perfect body” blends light-hearted humor and poignant wit as it observes absurd definitions of an evenly balanced relationship.

While Chenillo was in Miami to attend MIFFecito, we had the opportunity to discuss her film.


Q: How did you come by the original story for the film, and what drew you to make a film from this story?

Mariana Chenillo:

Paraíso was a film I was initially hired to write. It was based on a short story that was very dear to Pablo Cruz, the producer of the film, since it portrays life in the outskirts of Mexico City, the place where he grew up. I think that in the first and second drafts, I was quite lost. I was trying for the very first time to enter a world that was not mine. And I had to learn how to make it my own, how to inject life into the characters, which was one of the most valuable lessons I´ve learned.

Q: What did you add or change the original story when you wrote the script?

Mariana Chenillo:

Writing this script took a very long time. And as I struggled to find the story, I discovered that I had to change the protagonist from the husband to the wife, and that I had to inject the characters with issues, hopes, doubts, and problems that were really palpable, concrete, and close to me.


Q: Why was it important for you to tell this story?

Mariana Chenillo:

When I started writing I was in the midst of promoting my first film (within Mexico, and also in other countries), and as I went from TV  shows to photo shoots for magazines and papers, I started to realize that, as a woman, there were some very clear and strict expectations of how I was supposed to look like.

Without being conscious about it, I started growing fonder and fonder of the character of Carmen. It started to portray my own feeling of inadequacy and shame of my body. And that is how I unintentionally embarked on a trip to discover issues that were of very much importance to me.

Q: How were the two leads, Andres Almeida and Daniela Rincon, selected for their roles?

Mariana Chenillo:

Specifically for the role of Carmen we did a massive casting that was announced on TV and social media. We saw more than 800 girls and fell in love with Daniela the minute we saw her.

We liked Andrés immediately also, so we tested them together and felt there was great chemistry between them.

Q: Did anything in particular happen during the filming that impacted the film?

Mariana Chenillo:

I was breast-feeding a very young baby during pre-production, shooting, and post-production. I think that process somehow impacted the film.

 I was really tired and making a big effort to make everything happen, but I guess I was also under the wonderful effects of Oxytocin, the love hormone!

Q: How did Canana (Mexico’s leading film & TV production company, founded by producers Pablo Cruz, Gael García Bernal, Diego Luna & Julian Levin) become involved with the film, and what did they bring to the film?

Mariana Chenillo:

As I mentioned before, Pablo Cruz was the one that read the short story for the first time. And we worked very closely throughout the whole process.

The rest of the producers were involved in the big decisions more than in the day to day things.

It was wonderful to work with Canana.


(MI BURBUJA music video from Mariana Vega)

The Venezuelan/Canadian singer, Mariana Vega, received nominations from MI BURBUJA (My Bubble) in the following categories:

▪ Best New Artist: Mariana Vega

▪ Best Contemporary Pop Vocal Album: “MI BURBUJA”, produced by Cachorro Lopez, Ocesa Seitrack/Sony Music 

LATIN GRAMMY Awards ceremony will be held in Las Vegas this November 20.

Watch video for “De Tu Voz”, filmed in Tepito in Mexico City:


Sólo con mirarte Ya lo vi venir No hace falta que hables 

Sé que vienes a decir Era de esperarse 

Desde el mes de abril Basta con tus ojos Basta con tu voz Con ver cómo cuesta 

Que termines la oración 

No te lo hare fácil 

Tienes mi atención Dolerá mucho más 

Al oírlo de tu voz 

Dime cómo sucedio? 

Si ella fue quien te busco? 

O será que fue el destino 

Quien allí los acercó? 

No me digas fue un error 

Tampoco pidas perdón 

Aunque sé toda la historia 

Quiero oírlo de tu voz 

Para ya decir adiós 

Sólo hay que mirarte 

No hace falta oír Ni hay que ser muy lista 

Para poder predecir Que hay que despedirse 

Que esto acaba aquí 

Follow MARIANA VEGA via Social Media

Twitter: MarianaVega

Facebook: mvegaoficial

ASTRID RIVERA, blogger and recognized “Influencer” joins the cast of Telemundo’s YO SOY EL ARTISTA

The renowned journalist, blogger Astrid Rivera was casted, along with other 99 influencers, on the new reality show, "Yo Soy El Artista", which airs every Sundays at 8 pm/7c on Telemundo, Telemundo International & Latin America through E! Entertainment.

Rivera , who is the creator of , one of the most prestigious internet portals in the United States, was identified by the television producers to participate in the first phase of this reality show.

Esta experiencia ha sido una de crecimiento para mi, el tener la oportunidad de ser uno de los pioneros en este formato de televisión es una bendición”, commented Rivera. “Ya se esta viendo los frutos que hemos cosechando durante anos en las redes sociales, súper feliz que una cadena tan importante como Telemundo reconozca y entienda que el trabajo que hacemos en el mundo digital es sumamente importante para su producto televisivo”.

The TV shows’ group of influencers are comprised of artists, musicians, publicists, bloggers, journalists & personalities from prestigious networks in the United States & Latin America. 

Compartir ese trabajo con otros 99 que vienen de distintos lugares, con diversos gustos fue increíble ya que podíamos diferir como equipo entre nosotros lo que hacia la dinámica una interesante”, said Rivera.

The term “influencer” is an already popular in the world of social networking & is used to identify those people who in one way or another have plenty of presence & credibility in social networks, and, not only have fans, but also know how to be entertaining.

Singers, Maffio, Angel & Khriz, Johnny Sky, Estephy, & television personalities, Claudia González, Alexandra Olavarria, Hector Rivera, were among those who accompanied Rivera for a 4-day tour in Orlando (Florida).

Yo Soy El Artista" premiered on Telemundo last Sunday, September 14 at 8 pm/7c & features Lucero as host, with Olga Tanon , Luis Fonsi , Boris Izaguirre , Chiquibaby & Mario Quintero as the show’s jury.

TASTE OF SPAIN:  Andalusia

Spain is a much-favored vacation destination, with diverse regions, such as Basque, in the North, and Andalucia, in the South, that offer a wide range of delicious culinary fare to explore.

Nevertheless, the cuisines of France and Italy are better known to gourmands than the incredible food and wines from their Iberian cousin. However, thanks to the Tourist Offices of Spain, or TURESPAÑA, U.S. “foodies” are discovering their gastronomical treasures that can be found locally.

The Spanish tourism bureau, from its South-East office in Miami, and the Andalusian trade agency, EXTENDA, and through the Miami Culinary Institute, recently hosted an interactive cooking reception to tout the flavors of Andalusia. Invited guests included fine dining connoisseur s and other important, local influencers.

The historical cities of Seville, Granada and Malaga as well and the famous beaches of the Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz and Almería can be found in Andalusia (also known as Andalucía). The southern region’s diverse landscapes contribute to its variety in cuisine, such as the Jerez Sherries from Cadiz, the classic cured hams from Huelva and Cordoba, olive oil, and more.

At the cooking demonstration, the main presenters were a representative for the preeminent brand of Iberico hams, 5J Cinco Jotas, Jonathon Lane, the executive chef of Traymore restaurant of Miami’s Metropolitan BY COMO hotel, and a wine representative from Hidalgo Imports.

Before the program started, guests enjoyed passed canapé, or ‘pintxos’, of Ines Roasales salted, crispy olive oil-coated tortas with quince, Spanish cheeses and olives, paired with sparkling Agusti Torello Reserva Cava.

Next, patrons enjoyed an olive oil tasting, showcasing La Espanola’s Special Reserve, and a craving demonstration of Cinco Jotas Ibérico ham. Chef Lane paid tribute to these fine vendors’ fare with a plated appetizer of Pan con Tomate, La Espanola’s Special Reserve olive oil, and Cinco Jotas Ibérico ham, paired with La Gitano’s Manzanilla, a white Andalusian wine.

Next, Lane continued to impress patrons with his demonstrated preparation of a delicious morsel of olive oil-cured tuna, accompanied by anchovies, olives, and served with a glass of aromatic Los Aljibes’ Sauvignon Blanc and superior cuts of Ibérico ham sliced from the shoulder.

The programs’ appetizers concluded with a starter, directly from Traymore’s current menu, of perfectly grilled octopus with olives, potatoes, and a vibrant salsa verde, which was paired with a wonderful full-bodied red wine, Viña Real Crianza from Bodegas Cune.

This singular tasting alone educated the evening’s patrons to the simply prepared dishes, using seasonal local and organic foods, awaiting them at the seafood restaurant helmed by American chef, Jonathan Lane.

The cooking event concluded with a savory celery sorbet, spiked with a section of Ines Rosales Sweet Orange torta, and finished with a sweet and lusciously rich Alameda Cream from Bodegas Hidalgo.

WELCOME TO NIRVANA: Metropolitan by COMO ~ Miami Beach

The Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach, is an historic Art Deco hotel, newly re-imagined by the infamous Italian interior designer, Paola Navone, & reflects her  deep interest in a broad spectrum of cultures – particularly oriental ones.

The property was originally named The Traymore hotel, & became listed as an historic landmark by The Miami Design Preservation League. The building’s original façade, ground floor tiling & Art Deco architectural accents surrounding the exterior of the building are therefore required to remain in their original form.

The first U.S. property by the prestigious & iconic COMO Hotels and Resorts introduces:

  • The Gin Bar with 40+ imported gins from around the world
  • The serene Traymore Restaurant – offering contemporary seafood by Executive Chef Jonathan Lane
  • The COMO Shambhala Urban Escape spa, featuring Miami’s 1st Hydrotherapy Pool

An outdoor terrace leads to a private pool, exclusively for hotel guests, with poolside cabanas and bar, offering an outdoor à la carte menu. The hotel offers direct beach access & comfortable loungers for hotel guests on the sumptuous sands of South Beach, while boasting to be the only hotel in its zip code to have a private dock on the waterway, opposite the hotel & adjacent to Collins Avenue. 

To celebrate COMO’s first stateside opening, Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach is pleased to offer guests an extended ‘Grand Opening Rate,’ with prices from $239 per night for a City Room when booked by September 30th, 2014.

Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach is located at 2445 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140. Hotel reservations can be made online or by contacting the reservations team direct at or by calling 305.695.3600. Further information on Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach can be found by visiting 

Watch the trailer for Jason Reitman’s MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN

MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN follows the story of a group of high school teenagers and their parents as they attempt to navigate the many ways the internet has changed their relationships, their communication, their self-image, and their love lives.

MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN in limited theaters starting October 1st and in theaters nationwide October 17th


Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, in association with Film Forum, have announced a special one night-only screening of 20,000 Days On Earth, the groundbreaking new film on celebrated rock legend Nick Cave.

The exclusive off-site screening will take place at the Town Hall in Manhattan’s midtown on Saturday, September 20th. 

The lyrical and inventive documentary showcasing the rock icon, will be followed by a rare solo piano performance by Cave to coincide with the opening weekend release of the film. 

In addition, the rock legend will be joined on stage by 20,000 Days On Earth directors, Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth for a conversation with the audience.