New Film "Taught to Hate" Inspired by Long Island Hate Crimes
(Long Island, N.Y.) In November 2008, an Ecuadorean immigrant called Marcelo Lucero, was killed in Long Island New York, because of his race. Less than a month later, another immigrant called Jose Sucuzhanay, was killed in Brooklyn.
A group of Immigrants and Americans have collaborated together to produce a short film entitled 'Taught to Hate'. It is their hope that the message of this provocative film will help to abolish hate crimes in America and all over the World.
This past week I had the chance to interview friend and Actress Helen Proimos, one of the major stars of the film, 'Taught to Hate' at the World Bar in Trump Towers.
"This controversial film was directed by James Garcia Sotomayor. The movie was inspired by the hate crimes against two Ecuadoreans: Marcelo Lucero and Jose Sucuzhanay in Long Island. The whole idea of the film is that none of us are born to hate. We are taught from what we hear at home from what we might hear from friends. We not only show the movie at film festivals but we show it at schools as a learning device to stop hate crimes," revealed Ms. Proimos during our interview.
Actress Helen Proimos is not a stranger to stage or film. Ms. Proimos has portrayed roles in both student and feature films as well as many stage productions. Ms. Proimos is co-owner of a small production company with director Scott Goldberg: 13th Season Productions. The two collaborate to produce music videos, and short films. She also has many behind the scenes credits as a professional in the media world and is considered a breath of fresh air in show business.
"How were both you and your son approached to be cast in this film," I inquired.
"Brandon had a film called "Slingers" At the Long Island Film Expo Film Festival in Long Island last Summer and James Garcia Sotomayor approached Brandon with the script. He knew Brandon would be there because of the screening of his film and he came up to us and gave us the script and asked if Brandon would read it and if he would be interested in the starring role. We didn't read it immediately because we were involved in the festival. Later we did read it. I read it first, I always read everything first. It was so well written so I gave it to Brandon to read it and he couldn't believe that people were killing other people because of their race, that was foreign to him, which is a good thing but he thought not only was it a good role for him but that he could do a good thing by being this character," revealed Ms. Proimos.
Actor Brandon Hannan is best known for his portrayal of the dynamic lead role of Vito (Spatafore) Jr. on the HBO TV series hit, "THE SOPRANOS."
Working one-on-one in dramatic scenes with veteran actors James Gandolfini and Frank Vincent was an honor for Brandon. "They are such terrific actors and so nice." Brandon's most memorable episode is "Chasing It" due to its intensity.
Some of Brandon's other TV credits include commercials and TV pilots including The Murray Hill Show as Murray Jr.; Gagsters; and The Bubblebuds.
Independent film roles keep Brandon honing his craft. Some of his latest are "Slingers" where he plays the comedic relief role of the cowboy, Hamster; "Out Of The Fog" finds Brandon as David Samuels the serious child genius; in "Bloody Mary" we see him as Sean the 'cool kid'. "Emporer Of Ice Cream" we see him as Matthew a good friend to have. Filming "Pier 45" was different. It is a black and white short with no sound filmed on Pier 45 in NYC with only two characters, one being Brandon.
Brandon has now become a seasoned actor with a diversified portfolio of many characters which is no surprise as to why to he would take on this role.
James Garcia Sotomayor was born in Ecuador - a country with almost no film industry - and has come a long way from his very humble beginnings. He earned a degree in Electronic Engineering, although his dream has always been making movies, but there were no schools teaching filmmaking in Ecuador.
James arrived to USA in 1998 to study CGI and 3D animation at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. In 2000, he relocated to Los Angeles where he worked as a Video Editor. In 2003, he moved to New York where he became a Video Engineer at Viacom, MTV Networks. During that year he decided to follow his vocation and started his self-education on film, working on friends' projects and directing/producing his own short films.
In 2009, he co-wrote, directed and produced the very successful short film 'Taught to Hate', which was inspired by hate crimes against two Ecuadoreans in New York.
James' biggest influences are the Italian Neo-realism and Charles Dickens. Among his favorite directors are John Ford, Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Ernst Lubitsch, Howard Hawks, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg.
The True story took place in November 2008, Marcelo Lucero of Ecuador was brutally attacked by a hatred gang of seven teens going "beaner-jumping," or looking to attack Latinos. When Lucero used self defense with his belt to protect himself, eighteen year-old Jeffrey Conroy stabbed him to death.
Last week the trial ended with jurors giving the verdit of Conroy being convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime. Conroy is eligible to serve anywhere from 8 to 25 years in jail. Other charges were being found guilty of gang assault and attempted assault on three Latino youths. Conroy avoided the more serious charge of second-degree murder as a hate crime. This charge would have given him up to life in prison.
The trial has received an enormous amount of publicity and continues to do so.
Director James Garcia Sotomayor reveals,"This film is about Hispanic day workers who are harassed by white teens who, filled with the hatred taught to them by their families, perceive the day workers to be a threat to their livelihood. I believe that my humble upbringing in Ecuador gives me a unique perspective on this issue.
I've been so lucky to work with excellent actors like Brandon Hannan-from The Sopranos-, Arturo Castro, Helen Proimos, Nick Raio, Lorraine Rodriguez, among others.
The main theme of our movie is to teach tolerance to our children. Our goal is to help ending hate crimes all over the world using the power of film."
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