The Boyle Heights Latina Independent Film Extravaganza yearly celebrates the film and video work of Latina filmmakers. Ranging from documentaries and narrative films to music videos, the works signal a new generation of important writers, producers and directors who are availing themselves of new digital technologies to reflect their communities. Following are some of these new Latina filmmakers and their works.


Iris Almaraz

IRIS ALMARÁZ is a graduate of San Francisco State University’s film program with a BFA in production. With insightful, original and intelligent films, her work has screened at festivals around the world garnering twelve awards including three for best director. She is currently concluding post-production on her first feature film. FILMS: Delusions of Grandeur Trailer, New Light and the Realm of Possibility.

Belinda Carreno

BELINDA CARREYO has been using a camera making home videos since she was 5 years old. Growing up in a stigmatized community such as East Los Angeles, she has had to fight against the odds but has now successfully graduated from the prestigious California State University at Northridge Film School. FILM: Braceros.

MARÍA JOSÉ OLIVA CARRERAS is an independent documentary producer and director who graduated from Brooks Institute of Photography. María José’s documentary, Guatán, was an official selection at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and at the Boyle Heights Latina Independent Film Extravaganza. She has worked for the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, Azteca América, NALIP, and FUEL TV at FOX. She is currently producing her next documentary, For the Plight of the Elephant. FILMS: Guatán.

Maria Jose Oliva Carreras

Katrina Jasso-Osorio

YVETTE FERNÁNDEZ is an award-winning veteran in the art of communication. A published author, and a Emmy award winning television reporter and filmmaker, she has been finding interesting stories and telling them her entire career. A believer in “giving back” to the community, Ms. Fernández was founder of the non-profit organization S.T.A.R.–a mentoring organization for high school aged women. Ms. Fernández has remained involved in community service and advocacy organization focusing on women and Latino community issues. FILM: Field Soldiers.

KATRINA JASSO-OSORIO founded Jasso-Osorio Entertainment in 2002. She produced her first film, Lowriding in Aztlán, in 2004. The film was released nationwide by Code Black Entertainment in 2006. Jasso-Osorio Entertainment’s next film, Miracle, is Katrina’s directorial debut. The film deals with the reality of her troubled pregnancy. Films: Lowriding in Aztlán, Miracle.

Jessica Leza

JESSICA LEZA is a musician and video artist from Houston, Texas. Her video and music works have been performed across the United States, China and Europe. She lives in Houston, Texas and is completing an album of ambient electronic music and an accompanying series of short animated films. FILM: Seduction in the Sterilization Room.

RISA MARA MACHUCA was born in Long Island, New York and raised in Liberty, New

Risa Mara Machuca

York and San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico. Since an early age she was drawn to movies. In 1996, Risa started working for a large record label in the San Francisco area and also worked as an intern for the production company UC IS UGET. Her filmmaking took off when up and coming director Chris Robinson saw her and felt the energy she brings to her work. He asked her to join him in his venture Robot Films. FILM: Asi Es.

Sara Celeste Martin

SARA CELESTE MARTIN is a sixteen year old Latina art student currently living in Whittier, California with her mother and siblings. Her work is greatly influenced by her Mexican culture and the sights and sounds of Los Angeles. FILM: Next Time Down.

CRISTINA NAVA is a native of Los Angeles, born to Mexican parents. Cristina earned

Cristina Nava

her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA in 1997 and immediately began working as an actress, writer and filmmaker. Cristina is dedicated to producing and acting in films as well as creating stories that truly represent the American-Latino experience. FILM: Salsa Lessons.

Arianna Ortiz

ARIANNA ORTÍZ is a writer and actress living in Los Angeles. Her play The Consummation of All Things was developed with the comedy trio Culture Clash as part of their Writer’s Portal Project. Arianna is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts. FILM: Still Life With Couch.

ELIZABETH OTERO. Elizabeth’s forte is comedy writing though she occasionally also ventures into directing and acting. She’s written for the Disney series, My Friends Tigger & Pooh, and LATV’s The Homies Hip Hop Show. Her play, Gas, won the SI TV Playwriting Award. FILM: McCain’s War/Valet Party.

ASHLEY PINEDO Originally from Arizona, Ashley earned her B.A.. Degree in video

Ashley Pinedo

production from Pacific University. She is a bilingual video artist interested in promoting social awareness and change in everything she creates. Her latest project is a “doculog” featuring Chicana/Mexicana perspectives on La Virgen de Guadalupe. FILM: Nana’s Palabras.

Iliana Sosa

ILIANA SOSA was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. She is currently pursuing an MFA degree in directing and production at UCLA. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Latin American Studies and French from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. Mojado is her first film short. It details a sexual violation of a young Mexican immigrant by an immigration officer. FILM: Mojado.

CHRISTINA SOTO is an award winning photographer/filmmaker/playwright born and raised in New York City; her work often focuses on women’s issues and her Cuban heritage. Her photographic images have been featured in numerous group and juried shows on both the East coast and the Southwest. In March, 2008, Soto was presented with an award by the Hudson County for Women’s History Month, Women’s Arts: Women’s Vision. She had worked on more than 20 independent films with many different directors. She is founder and organizer of the Hudson County Youth Video Event, now in its fourth year. FILM: High Voltage.

Carolina Vila

CAROLINA VILA was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela. She studied Mass Communications and worked as a radio and press journalist for several years before shifting her attention to becoming a filmmaker. After being awarded with a scholarship for outstanding academic achievement, she came to the United States to obtain an MFA in Film Production at USC. After having short several student films, Carolina directed and produced her own short film “Roam,” a film recognized with a Directors Guild of America Student Award; the film was also selected for the Sundance film festival. Returning to Venezuela, Ms. Vila has produced, directed and photographed several commercials and three one-hour documentaries. She also teaches film and television production in Caracas and is developing her first feature film. FILMS: Roam, Onda Corta (Shortwave).

Conchita Nora Villa

CONCHITA NORA VILLA Nora makes her directorial debut with the film Alondra Smiles. Ms. Villa was born in East Los Angeles and raised in Monterrey Park, California. Ms. Villa graduated from UCLA with Bachelor of Arts degree in History and attended the Producer’s Program at the UCLA Extension Film School. She has worked as an Executive Assistant on the feature films Selena, The Disappearance of García Lorca and My Family (Mi Familia). She has joined with her brother, Producer Juan Francisco Villa, and her family to launch the production company Villa Media Productions. FILM: Alondra Smiles.

MICHELLE ZAMORA is a performer/puppeteer originally from Brownsville, Texas. She

Michelle Zamora

recently puppeteered the webisode Kung-Fu series The Fist of Oblivion for Roman Coppola Studios. She has performed in four Cornerstone Theater Company productions and has puppeteered for Rogue Artist Ensemble, CASA0101, Playhouse Disney–Live on Stage! and the toy-theater film Dante’s Inferno. Michelle is currently designing puppets for a children’s television pilot for Trifecta Productions, Inc., and the upcoming Native Voices production of Wild Horses for the Autry Theatre. Poet Vs. Puppet was a winner at the 2008 Christopher Coppola Presents: PAH NATION online film festival. FILM: Poet vs. Puppet.

Josefina Lopez

JOSEFINA LÓPEZ is founder and organizer of the Boyle Heights Latina Independent Film Extravaganza. She is an acclaimed playwright and co-wrote the screenplay for the motion picture, Real Women Have Curves based on her original play. This prolific playwright is also a poet and novelist. She is currently developing the musical version of her play Real Women Have Curves, has recently completed a musical comedy Trio Los Machos and has published her first novel, Hungry Woman in Paris. She is currently adapting her screenplay Lola Goes to Roma into a novel. Find out more about Josefina Lopez at her website:

FANNY VÉLIZ is festival director of the Boyle Heights Latina Independent Film

Fanny Veliz

Extravaganza. She is an award winning actress and filmmaker originally from Venezuela. She strives to use theater and film to inspire the community and highlight the triumphs and challenges of culturally diverse minorities. She received the Promising Filmmaker award from the First Boyle Heights Latina Independent Film Extravaganza and since has produced and directed several short films which have been screened in festivals in the United States, Mexico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. Fanny Véliz is currently working oon her feature script titled Alice No Land. She plans to start production in Venezuela in 2009. She resides in Los Angeles with her two sons.