Grant recipients were chosen from among numerous submissions from across the US, US territories and three foreign countries. Applicants included women of Brazilian, Cuban, Columbian, Costa Rican, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Spanish and Peruvian heritage. The grant will provide recipients with a broad-based understanding of the business of filmmaking through a six-day, full-immersion mentoring program, shepherded by members of NYWIFT.
The winners are:
Erika Bagnarello - Heredia, Costa Rica
A native of Costa Rica, Bagnarello is a graduate of Florida State University and a former Fulbright Scholar. In 2006, she was awarded an honorable mention in the Latino category of the Directors Guild of America’s Student Awards for her short, The Melting Pot. Her thesis film Inner Sight, won second place in the student category at the 2007 Palm Beach International Film Festival and was chosen to screen at this year’s Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival. Bagnarello’s current project, Flyways, tells the story of a Costa Rican woman illegally immigrating to the US with her daughter via a cruise ship.
Sarah Duran — Los Angeles
A graduate of Cal State Northridge, Duran was recently accepted as one of 16 participants in the 2007 Producers Guild of America’s Diversity Workshop for her feature screenplay The Search for Santiago. She is a member of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) and was selected to attend their 2007 signature program, the Latino Producers Academy, as a feature production fellow.
Duran’s first short film, Red Phoenix, premiered at the 2006 Los Angeles Film Festival and her second short, Girls Night Out, won the grand prize in the 2006 Mercury/NALIP Latino Short Film Challenge. She is currently at work on her first feature-length screenplay, which she hopes to direct.
Xochitl Gonzalez — Los Angeles
Gonzalez received an MFA in directing from the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. She has directed numerous short films and documentaries, including two award-winning narrative shorts, Countdown and Stuck, both shot on 35mm. Her films have screened on KCET’s Fine Cut series and at numerous film festivals, including Film Independent P:I Showcase, Newport Beach Film Festival, San Diego Film Festival and Durango Film Festival, among others. Gonzalez has completed screenplays for a feature film, Dr. Kevin, and a television pilot, The V.A. Spa, both of which she hopes to direct.
Michelle Malley-Campos — San Juan, Puerto Rico
Malley-Campos is a graduate of New York University’s film program. Her senior thesis, the short narrative When Chickens Bark, has been accepted at numerous film festivals and was awarded “Outstanding Achievement” at the 2007 International Student Film Festival. She is currently working in the Puerto Rican production office for the film, The Argentine, directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Benicio Del Toro. As an office production assistant, she is serving as assistant to Soderbergh, as well as the film’s producer, executive producer, first assistant director and unit production manager.
Brenda Zuniga — Los Angeles
A graduate of the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts, Zuniga is now exhibiting her thesis film, Santa Teresa, at film festivals across the country, including the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival and the DC Shorts Film Festival. Currently, she is working as a cinematographer and camera assistant in feature film production. Zuniga's goal is to write and direct feature films
Recipients of the WIF/GM 2007 Opening Doors/Abriendo Puertas: The Acceleration Grant for Emerging Latina Filmmakers will receive round-trip transportation to New York City and be hosted by NYWIFT Oct. 15-21. The grant will begin with two days of meetings and seminars with leaders and executives in the film and television industries, including distributors, financing experts, producers, marketing executives, television broadcasters and studio representatives. Participants will also receive industry passes to the Hamptons International Film Festival in East Hampton, Long Island, including admission to the Independent’s Ball and other festival parties hosted by Lifetime Television Networks and NYWIFT.