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LatinoBuzz: Exclusive Interview with Celinés Toribio, ‘Maria Montez’ Producer and Actress Extraordinaire

LatinoBuzz got to hang with actress/producer Celinés Toribio at the Guadalajara Film Festival in Mexico and we spoke to her about her first feature film as a producer, "María Montez," which is about the life and story of a young precocious girl from Barahona, D.R named María África Gracia Vidal, who later became known as Maria Montez. "Maria Montez" is the first depiction and tribute to the first Dominican actress to ever grace Hollywood's silver screen and whose shine dimmed too soon.

Update: Celines is now shooting "El Rey de la Habana" in the Dominican Republic, her third film in two years under her company Esencia Films.

LatinoBuzz: Why was it important for you to tell the story of María Montez?

Celinés: Because she is a woman from my country and is a courageous Latina like myself. She was also an immigrant to the United States, I cling to role models like her. María Montez risked it all to dare to dream big. She was very persistent when it came to achieving her dreams, she motivated me a lot. Those are the type of women I hope to follow.

LatinoBuzz: Do you see you yourself in María?

Celinés: A lot, she was an actress and was criticized for being a bad actress, like me [Laughs}. But she ignored the criticism and continued with her dreams. There are times when you don't like something and you want to improve it. As you try to improve it gets harder to be criticized, and then you decide to turn a deaf ear. Maria Montez became a good actress, her best film was a French film and it wasn't from within the Hollywood industry. In Hollywood she was more used as a sex symbol in all these escapist films during the second world war. So then, what does Celinés Toribio have of Maria Montez? The courage and the power to ignore criticism.

LatinoBuzz: How difficult was it to obtain financing for a film in the Dominican Republic?

Celinés: It was very difficult, very difficult, because I come from the world of television and in the film industry who would believe in a TV presenter? As extremely difficult as it was, I had to then prove to the world and to my own country - who believed I had a good criterion - that my purpose was to make good films whether they succeeded or failed, that I wanted the best, always seeking perfection. And I will continue trying. It was also really difficult trying to do it in an industry full of men, especially in my country, which is also a country full of ''machos." I'm new, I’m from television, a woman, not rich and without a last name from a wealthy family. Very difficult.

LatinBuzz: But the film was made…

Celinés: We achieved it! (Sighs) There are so many people to whom I'll be grateful for my whole life, there were all my sponsors: Orange Cinema, El Ministerio de Cultura, Universal de Seguros, the tourism department, La Sirena – they’re big companies in my country. All these huge companies that believed in Celinés Toribio. When I went with a Power Point presentation under my arm, by myself, to sit down in an office, and when the movie was only in my mind - these people believed in me.

LatinoBuzz: Is there any other historical figure from the Dominican Republic you think deserves a biopic?

Celines: Yes! All the men and women who built our country, who have created the history of our country. Our Dominican founding fathers Duarte, Sánchez and Mella. Casandra Damirón, a great dancer and singer whom was also very stereotyped in her time. Dr. Joaquín Balaguer, a former president the same as Trujillo. Our beloved Porfirio Rubirosa who was an iconic figure representing what it really means to be a man. Since he was so clever he could put the most important women in the world in his pocket. We have a rich history, good and bad. Stories and movies are not to pass judgment on a human being or portray only what was positive in history. They are meant to include everyone and everything, good or bad.

LatinoBuzz: How did you choose your cast and crew?

Celines: It was not a decision made by myself, it was also made with the director Vicente Peñarrocha and the producer Teresa Fernández Cuesta, who recommended Ginés García Millán - a great actor from Spain who was in the "Isabel" TV series and many other films and plays. Then the director recommended Ben Temple, an actor who had previously worked with Vicente. I think he is the best actor of the film. (Laughs)

LatinoBuzz: What were the challenges during the actual shoot?

Celines: 19 days to shoot a film, 18 hours a day - any challenges? One main challenge was that our camera wasn't a typical film camera. Anyone who sees the film says the photography is very nice, it was a c300 camera. Today the best cameras are the Red One's, the Alexa's, but we didn't have the budget for that. We did have a steadicam, which was constantly breaking. We had to fix it constantly. There were even scenes in which the steadicam was supposed to stay smooth but because it was broken it was shaky, not because of the operator but because of the equipment. We faced many challenges including mosquitoes and heat. We went to a desert since we have some dunes in the Dominican Republic and everyone was preparing to shoot in the desert. They said “Drink plenty of water!” “Stay hydrated!” “Bring a Nurse!” ”We must have an ambulance on stand by!” So, everyone was preparing for this sandstorm that was supposed to come, and in the end nothing happened, it was the best day! (Laughs)

LatinoBuzz: What is the current state of the Dominican Republic’s film industry?

Celines: It is in a Renaissance, this is the rebirth of Dominican film. Why? Because we have more education in film, we have more companies prepared to shoot 3 or 4 films simultaneously and tax incentives. With that we already have the new age of Dominican cinema. "María Montez" is part of that new era.

LatinoBuzz: What projects are coming up next for you?

Celines: We just shot a children’s film, today independent films in Latin America do not express much interest in films for children. We finished one called "Los Fabulosos Ma' Mejores," about a Dominican kid who is really bad at baseball but when he goes to a Dominican Little League Baseball Tournament wins the championship. So that's the next project and then "Maria Montez's" director Vicente Peñarrocha and I are working on a romantic comedy. In the Dominican Republic the most successful genre is comedy, but in Esencia Films we are committed to all genres including dramas and romantic comedies. So let’s see how this goes for us. We are also working on the story of Porfirio Rubirosa and I have several projects I'm developing at the same time.

LatinoBuzz: Celines Toribio in 10 years?

Celines: I see myself as a “Dominican Salma Hayek," who has her production house, who negotiates with ABC, with CBS, who secures good collaborations with TV netowoks and Major North American production houses or from Spain, Colombia. I see myself that way.

You can watch clips, pics and all the cast and crew info here: http://mariamontezthemovie.com/

Renee Ylizaliturri is an independent film and television producer from Mexico and is member of the Asociacion Mexicana de Cineastas Independientes. Part of her work is producing political campaigns as a media strategist and consultant. @Renylizaliturri

LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow[At]LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook
See full article at Sydney's Buzz »

Jillian Michaels To Host Celebrity Fitness Tour For Uso

This spring, celebrity health and wellness expert and former “The Biggest Loser” co-trainer Jillian Michaels is bringing her larger-than-life personality and brand of conditioning to Us service men and women serving abroad as part of a Uso tour of the Middle East.

Michaels will be joined on the first-ever celebrity fitness-focused entertainment tour by fellow fitness guru Marco Borges and actress and media personality Celines Toribio for visits to bases that will combine handshakes, chats and photo opportunities with 60-minute, boot camp-style workouts and instructional sessions.

Read more
See full article at Look to the Stars »

7-57, Markedia get rights to 'La Soga'

7-57 Releasing and partner Markedia Worldwide have picked up U.S. distribution and world sales rights to Josh Crook's action thriller "La Soga."

Written by Manny Perez, the film stars Perez and Denise Quinones in the Domican Republic-set tale about a cop seeking justice.

It was produced by Perez, Josh Crook and Jeff Crook. Exec producers are Patrick Pope, Jose Miguel Bonetti, Henry Mu, Celines Toribio, Jesse Scolaro, Allen Bain, Patrick R. Morris, Kate White Morris, Robert G. Morris and Michael Bassick.

A platform theatrical release in the top ten U.S. markets is set for August, along with its rollout in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Antena Latina Films will be handling distribution in the Dominican Republic with Cynthia Wiesner of Wiesner Distribution handling Puerto Rico.

Steven Raphael of Required Viewing and Mj Peckos of Mitropoulos Films will consult on all marketing and distribution elements for the North American theatrical release.
See full article at The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News »

Michelle Rodriguez Flips Out At Wedding

"The Fast and the Furious" star Michelle Rodriguez was no model bridesmaid at the four-day wedding of her best friend and manager, Giancarlo Chersich, to beautiful Dominican actress and television host Celines Toribio, reports The Post's Sandra Guzman.

At the welcome dinner at the Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez pushed fully clothed guests into the pool. The next night, she broke up the bachelorette party yelling that the stripper was "fat and had a small ep]."

Rodriguez was ticked off when the dancer asked for a volunteer at the
See full article at New York Post »

Michelle Rodriguez disgusted with stripper

Michelle Rodriguez had a bust-up with a stripper at her best friend's wedding celebrations. The 'Fast and the Furious' star - who was bridesmaid for her manager Giancarlo Chersich recently - shocked guests with her outrageous behaviour during the four-day event. During the bachelorette party for Chersich's bride - Dominican TV personality Celines Toribio - the 30-year-old star brought the evening to a halt after a run-in with a male exotic dancer. Michelle was angry when the stripper asked for a volunteer at the beginning of his routine and asked the woman to kneel down. According to the New York Post newspaper, she reportedly shouted: "That's bulls**t. He should be kneeling for her - this is a bachelorette party."
See full article at Monsters and Critics »

Michelle Rodriguez Had Bust-Up With Male Stripper At Her Best Friend's Wedding Celebration

Michelle Rodriguez had a bust-up with a stripper at her best friend's wedding celebrations. The "Fast and the Furious" star - who was bridesmaid for her manager Giancarlo Chersich recently - shocked guests with her outrageous behavior during the four-day event.

During the bachelorette party for Chersich's bride - Dominican TV personality Celines Toribio - the 30-year-old star brought the evening to a halt after a run-in with a male exotic dancer.

Michelle was angry when the stripper asked for a volunteer at the beginning of his routine and asked the woman to kneel down.

According to the New York Post newspaper, she reportedly shouted: "That's bulls**t. He should be kneeling for her - this is a bachelorette party."
See full article at iCelebz »

Michelle Rodriguez Ruins Her Best Friends Wedding

Word to the wise: think twice before asking a temperamental actress to be a part of your wedding day. Michelle Rodriguez's best friend and manager, Giancarlo Chersich, asked her to be a part of his wedding to Dominican actress and TV host Celines Toribio, and while in theory it must have sounded cool to have a celebrity be in his bridal party, Michelle's behavior was anything but graceful. According to the NY Post, during the welcome dinner at the Casa de Campo Resort in the Dominican Republic, Rodriguez pushed fully clothed guests into the pool. The next night,...
See full article at HollyScoop »

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