Updated Jan 26, 2024 - World

First film by new company centered on Latino voices takes top Sundance prize

Luz Films was launched this year by (from left) Sergio Lira, Lynette Coll and Cristobal Güell. Photo: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Acura

The first film of a new entertainment company that was founded to help elevate Latinos in Hollywood won the top prize at the Sundance Film Festival awards on Friday.

Why it matters: Latinos are underrepresented both behind and in front of the screen in film and TV, a cycle many say is perpetuated by the lack of enough Latino studio heads.

Details: Sergio Lira, Lynette Coll and Cristobal Güell launched Luz Films this year. The company's first movie, "In the Summers," which stars Puerto Rican music artist René Pérez Joglar, more commonly known as Residente, premiered to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival this week and won the Grand Jury prize for dramatic film.

  • Lira and Coll said their new venture will be more collaborative and innovative than the traditional Hollywood movie-making model.
  • For example, they want artists to work in all aspects of film instead of sticking to traditional roles.
  • "In the Summers," which chronicles the relationship between two sisters and their troubled dad over the course of several summers, is the debut film of writer-director-producer Alessandra Lacorazza Samudio, who won the Sundance directing award in the dramatic category.

What they're saying: "We keep seeing the same thing — so many initiatives for Latinos — but nothing really happens. Let's take action instead of talking about the problem," said Coll, a producer, actor and former studio executive.

  • They plan to produce films and share resources to "elevate new voices but also the voices that are on the cusp of becoming someone," she added.
  • Case in point: At past jobs, Coll had long been pushing for actor Jenna Ortega to get cast more, but studio heads largely ignored her. Ortega now famously portrays Wednesday Addams and has a burgeoning film career.
  • For Lira, who was previously an executive at the movie studio A24, the venture is also about actually getting films made, instead of letting them languish in what Hollywood knows as the development phase.

The duo said the company's goal is not necessarily to always tell Latino-centric stories, but to tell stories from the perspective of Latinos.

  • "In the Summers," for example, is a universal story about family and is not centered on the character's ethnicity, Lira and Coll said.
  • "We want to tell different stories. We're genre agnostic," Coll said.
  • "It's about what moves us and for us, what can we also ultimately get it out to the audiences, because we also have to sell the movie so people can see it," she added.

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with Friday's award details.

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