If you were to ask up-and-coming Latino filmmaker Anthony Nardolillo about opportunities in Hollywood, you would get a very encouraging response. Though it took him over a decade to bring his passion project Shine to the screen, he was able to construct his vision on his terms and feels that now is the time for more Latino artists to do the same. We had the pleasure of speaking with Anthony about his film, his creative journey and his determination to bring unique Latin stories to the public.
‘LL:First off, congratulations on the success of Shine. It is hitting theaters nationwide and won Best Feature at last year’s Urbanworld Film Festival. Can you talk a little bit about the meaning behind this movie?
Shine is a message of pride and it is a message of family. One of the big themes of the movie is change. Change is inevitable and it’s something we can embrace, while also embracing our culture. The film tells the story of two Puerto Rican brothers in New York. Their father left them a dance studio and no matter what is going on around them, they are fighting to preserve that. I’d like Shine to be a real platform for conversation. There is real heart and real dialogue in these scenes. It is not meant to fill 90 minutes on a screen. It is meant to serve as an example of how communities can come together.
‘LL:This movie appears to be very personal as well. Can you share what inspired you to write and direct it?
I started out as a dancer myself and I initially wanted to be an actor. I was good friends with Columbus Short,who had worked on the movie Stomp The Yard. He inspired me to write my own project. At first, it was intended to be my acting vehicle. But then, the director dropped out. It was instantaneous when I fell into that role that I knew I wanted to be behind the camera.
‘LL:Can you share a little bit about the challenges you had to go through to get Shine made?
Shine was actually ready to roll back in 2008. But with funding and various ups and downs that I encountered, it wasn’t until 2015 that I was able to get the movie into production. And you know, I didn’t go to film school. But drive and determination helped move things forward. If you’re an inspiring writer, director, actor or whatever, you need to stick with that vision. Know that it may take 5-10 years to see a project through, but it can be done. A lot of people come to Hollywood with that initial adrenaline, but people fade out after two or three years. It is definitely challenging and there is a lot of competition, but if you commit to your vision you can get your story told.
‘LL:Do you feel like now is an opportune time for Latino filmmakers?
I’d like to think that we are now approaching what could be a golden era for Latino filmmakers. Tools and software have made it much easier and more accessible. From a technical perspective matched with where we are politically, people are starting to be receptive. There are so many stories to be told and now, it doesn’t have to always be an immigration story or a crime drama. We represent every color and every shade of life. It is a very exciting time.
‘LL: Well Shine is certainly a great example of an original story that breaks the mold.
Yes. I like to think of Shine as a film that’s at the crossroad of music, dance and original storytelling. But it’s also a lot of fun! All I want is for people to suspend their reality for a bit. I want people to be touched emotionally and move in their seats when they hear the soundtrack. And I’d love for them to help spread the word. We don’t have the big studio muscle behind us, but we’ve got a good product. I just want to invite people to come and enjoy it.
We are more than happy to do our part to promote this exciting project. Shine officially debuts on October 5th and you can find showtimes, trailers and theater locations on their official website.