Director’s Small Budget Gets Big Notice in Hollywood - Again

 

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TV Interview with Univision
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Impacto Interview
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“Benito”, is among a select group of films from Spanish-speaking countries to be screened in the film festival presented by director and actor Edward James Olmos.
 


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I found BENITO to be a warm, sweet little film, lovingly told with poignancy and humor."
 
Dennis E. Leoni
writer/producer/director
 


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Director Raul Portillo under the bed
at his home in California.
Photo of the director by
RENE MIRANDA/Plix Productions

Childhood Dream Inspires Mexican Immigrant To Make Film

LOS ANGELES - Growing up in a small town in Northern Mexico, Raul Portillo dreamed of making movies. As a child, he crawled under the bed and made a play theater out of a bed sheet.

“My uncle and I would tie a white sheet to the legs of the bed post to create a mock theatre screen,” he said. “We then lit a candle and placed plastic soldiers that made a silhouette – those were the actors.”

Portillo once again brings “Under The Bed Productions” to Hollywood, where real actors, producers and directors are giving his short film another shot.
Portillo directed the short film “Benito” inspired by the lyrics of Spanish composer Joan Manuel Serrat which will be screened at the 2006 Nosotros American Latino Film Festival (NALFF) from August 23- 27- 2006. The film festival will take place at the theatre recently named for the legendary actor, the Ricardo Montalban Theatre, in the heart of Hollywood.

“Benito” is no stranger to Hollywood. In 2005, it was also among a select group of films from Spanish-speaking countries screened at the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival presented by director and actor Edward James Olmos. It is the only Latin film festival based in Hollywood, the birthplace of the global film industry.

"We are pleased to exhibit Mr. Portillo's film and those of other Latino directors and producers in the hopes of helping provide an audience for their work and a stepping stone to launch their careers," Mr. Olmos said.
Portillo, a 38-year old graphic designer from Muzquiz, Coahuila, just south of the Texas-Mexico border, was surprised to know that his very first film project was accepted in Hollywood one more time.

“My high school years in Texas inspired me to think big,” he said. “If Robert Rodriguez could make a film, why not give it a try? I just didn’t think that my very first film project would actually be screened in Hollywood – much less twice.”

“Benito” is the story of a young and charismatic vagabond, inspired by the song with the same title written by Serrat, one of Spain’s most prolific composers, who is on tour after undergoing treatment for bladder cancer and who gave Portillo his blessing for the use of his song released in 1994. Portillo wrote a letter to Serrat in Barcelona to request authorization for the use of the song to feature his film. “Benito” is Portillo’s first film and he has no previous experience in filmmaking.

“In order for me to gain experience I needed a simple story that would project different acting aspects like drama and comedy,” said Portillo. “I didn’t have any previous film-making experience and I didn’t want to worry about sound and dialogues. Access to the song “Benito” allowed me to focus on the visuals to interpret the lyrics of the song. It was an incredible honor when I received word from Mr. Serrat saying he would be pleased if I used his song for the theme of my film.”

“Benito” (starring Adrian Vasquez,
Gil Alvarado and Austin Morgan) was photographed in DV-CAM on location in the the Mexican city of Guanajuato with a shoestring budget. The production featured Mexican acting students who also doubled as members of the crew.

“Benito” has already received good comments from Dennis E. Leoni, producer of Resurrection Boulevard. “I found BENITO to be a warm, sweet little film, lovingly told with poignancy and humor," said the acclaimed Hollywood director and writer.

To arrange interviews or to feature Mr. Portillo in your publication, please contact Patricia A. Gonzalez at (562) 209-5643 or via e-mail at
patglz1@aol.com. For more information on “Benito” visit www.benito-film.com

 

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