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 La Comuna will premiere on Monday, June 5, 5:30pm at the Caplan Center for the Performing Arts. Photo:Courtesy
"La Comuna" will premiere on Monday, June 5, at the Caplan Center for the Performing Arts. Photo: Courtesy

Short film by young Puerto Rican filmmakers premieres at the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival

"La Comuna" documents the challenges of community displacement and gentrification in the island.

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Community displacement, too common in our times, inspired a group of young Puerto Rican filmmakers to create La Comuna (The Commune), a short film that premieres at the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival (PHLAFF), that tells the story of the struggles of communities and artists with gentrification on the island.

The short film, written and directed by 23-year-old filmmaker Linda Maymí-Rivas cofounder of Puerto Rican film collective Monovisión, is the most recent story the group has developed, inspired by true events Puerto Ricans on the island and the diaspora have lived in recent years. La Comuna portrays the situation of a group of circus artists, who after years of making art for the community in a space they call home, is forced to leave their creative headquarters after the announcement of the sale of the building. It has been one year since their last performance and now they must come together to pick up the pieces of their creative home.

"Our generation is facing incredible challenges and those of us who want to make art in Puerto Rico must be audacious, especially in the film genre. For us, the short film serves as an instrument to shed light on circumstances that affect our generation, our communities, and our people. The lack of competitive salaries and challenging situations for college students on the island proliferate migration, and this creates other social struggles," said the young filmmaker.

Her colleague filmmaker Adrián Borges, who together with Maymí-Rivas is co-founder of the collective Monovisión, was director of photography, editor and worked hand in hand in this 40-minute production. The film has also been submitted to other festivals, such as Heritage Film Festival in New York and Sundance, explained Maymí-Rivas.

"We are a small island with big stories to tell. Puerto Rico has a lot of talent to create films that appeal not only to our reality, but also to the humanity of people everywhere,” Maymí-Rivas said.

La Comuna featured the performance of Marietere Vélez, who recently premiered her film Receta no incluida. Vélez has been awarded in Europe, and is also a screenwriter and leading actor in other productions on the island. It also featured the performance of Yussef Soto Villarini, co-founder of the artistic collective Y no había Luz; Delia Isabel Rivera, Miguel Sabalier, and Catalina Morales. It also had the collaboration of the music of Los Walters, as well as an original composition by Edgar Abraham, composer, and arranger winner of three Latin Grammys.

The filming of La Comuna took place during August 2022 and was possible thanks to the donations and the support of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture, La Vergüenza in Old San Juan, El Beta Local, and the artistic collective Agua, Sol y Sereno.

Several of the works of the Monovisión collective have been awarded abroad. Among them stands out El First Date, directed by Borges, which won three awards in 2021. It was a semifinalist at the London Indie Short Fest, was awarded best comedy short at the Florida Short Film Festival and won the best director award at the LUSCA Film Festival in Puerto Rico. El cuerpo de mamá, also directed by Borges and filmed during the pandemic, was a semi-finalist at the London Film Fest in 2021 and was awarded with La Estrella Borinqueña award from the Puerto Rico Heritage Film Fest in New York.

"Monovisión’s creative approach is to film the stories as they have been born within the collective, to create a series of short films that serve to document the reality of our times," reiterated Maymí-Rivas.

The 40-minute film is one of the more than 200 short films from 25 countries that are part of the Latin Festival.  La Comuna will premiere on Monday, June 5, 5:30pm, at the Caplan Center for the Performing Arts. For information and tickets for the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival, you can visit: https://filmfreeway.com/PHLAFF or https://phlaff23.eventive.org/welcome

To see the trailer of La Comuna, click here. To see the making of the film, click here.

ABOUT THE PHILADELPHIA LATINO FILM FESTIVAL

The Philadelphia Latino Film Festival was established in 2012 and has become the Greater Philadelphia region’s only festival showcasing the extraordinary and innovative work of emerging and established Latine/x/o filmmakers of all kinds. PHLAFF’s programming focuses on exploring the diverse experiences and realities of Latine/x/o peoples and remaining agile enough to evolve alongside the growing needs of our artists. 

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