Michele Serros fans mark your calendars. A short story from her book “How to Be a Chicana Role Model” debuts at the Ventura Film Festival, which runs from July 8-18th, 2011. Michele is a well-known author from Oxnard, CA. She is a writer, poet, and social commentator for National Public Radio and Fox Latino News. Her credits also include former writer for the George Lopez Show.
Filmmaker Lucy Rodriguez-Hanley adapted and directed “The Big Deal.” Its tagline “Find out what happens when Michele brings home her agnostic, vegan boyfriend to meet her Catholic, meat eating family,” is a unique twist to the “guess who’s coming to dinner” scenario.
When I first heard of the adaptation, I thought what a great idea. Michele Serros writes stories that sometimes read like sit coms and other times they are full of drama, much like the real family world. As a writer, she is satirical, witty, and realistic in her portrayal of characters. It is no wonder that her stories lend themselves well to television and the big screen.
And the person who recognized this talent was filmmaker and director Ms. Rodriguez-Hanley. The opportunity arose to talk to the filmmaker and I asked her why she chose this particular story to adapt. The first thing she said she noticed was that the humor in the story stemmed from pain. She could connect to that feeling and knew that others could also relate to it. There is an excerpt, on Wikipedia, that Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, stated he picked up a copy of “How to be a Chicana Role Model” as reading material for a trip and “By the time I got to the end of the book, I was crying like a hypersensitive wimp. I love crying like a hypersensitive wimp, so I looked (her up) on the Internet. We ended up becoming friends.”
“The Big Deal” takes place after the author’s mother dies and Ms. Rodriquez-Hanley wanted to capture that feeling of loss and emphasize the importance of mothers and maternal figures in our lives. In the film, Michele’s tia and tio will meet “the boyfriend.” In a humorous exchange between the relatives about the boyfriends name, looks, and eating habits, we feel the close relationship between Michele and her aunt, and learn the wishes of her deceased mother.
Ms. Rodriguez-Hanley’s objective, as a filmmaker, is to present stories that people can relate to and that make a difference, to the audience. She would like to have audiences leave the screening wanting to see more families like this on television and in movies. Her hope is that this film and others like it will broaden the spectrum of how Latinos are portrayed in the media.
The film premiered at the Cine Las Americas International Film Festival in Austin, Texas. After it shows at the Ventura Film Festival, it goes on to the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival July 17-25, 2011.
For a hometown girl to find her way as a well-regarded writer to the big screen is indeed a big deal.
Congratulations and buena suerte, Ms. Rodriguez-Hanley and Ms. Serros for bringing this story to the big screen.
Recently, I read that “The Big Deal” was nominated in the theatrical short film category, by Imagen Awards http://www.imagen.org. Congratulations to Lulu y Mucha Productions for their nomination.© Material 2011. You can link to blog and share.