Friday, October 23, 2015

I closed out #HispanicHeritageMonth with an @HBOLatino special screening of #POETOFHAVANA - Check out my #Photo Highlights!

HBO LATINO closes out Hispanic Heritage Month with a Private New York City Preview of the film, The Poet of Havana

HBO LATINO closes out Hispanic Heritage Month with a Private New York City Preview of the film, The Poet of Havana starring Carlos Varela Produced by Ron Chapman with a talk back moderated by Manny Ruiz
LEFT: Ron Chapman, Producer, MIDDLE: Carlos Varela, Musican, RIGHT: Moderator Manny Ruiz
I recently had the opportunity to attend an HBO LATINO private preview of the award-winning music, The Poet of Havana which chronicles the career of the internationally renowned Cuban Singer, Songwriter and Lyricist, Carlos Varela - celebrating his 30th anniversary as an artist. The film was directed and produced by Ron Chapman and was filmed throughout Havana, Cuba with footage that included interviews with Music and Media Personalities including: American Folk-Rock legend, Jackson Browne, Actor and Movie Director, Benicio del Toro (Benicio actually does much of the narration in the film), Salsa Sensation, Luis Enrique and Brazilian Musician, Ivan Lins.

The film won Audience Selection BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM AWARD in the Gasparilla International Film Festival in Tampa, Florida.

The NYC Private Preview included Spoken Word Perfomances and a 'Talk Back' with Carlos Varela and Ron Chapman which was moderated by the Founder of Hispanicize, Manny Ruiz.

Here are my Photo Highlights:

Founder of Hispanicize, Manny Ruiz, event emcee and moderator
ABOVE: Founder of Hispanicize, Manny Ruiz, event emcee and moderator!

Spoken Word Performance by Puerto-Rican Actress, Poet and Activist, Caridad De La Luz, AKA 'La Bruja'
ABOVE: Spoken Word Performance by Puerto-Rican Actress, Poet and Activist, Caridad De La Luz, AKA 'La Bruja' (which translates to 'the witch')

Spoken Word Performance by Odette Casamayor-Cisneros, Cuban-born Scholar and Writer
ABOVE: Odette Casamayor-Cisneros, Cuban-born Scholar and Writer

Hip-Hop Artist and Film-Maker, Frank Antonio López
ABOVE: Hip-Hop Artist and Film-Maker, Frank Antonio López

Hip-Hop Artist and Film-Maker, Frank Antonio López
ABOVE: Hip-Hop Artist and Film-Maker, Frank Antonio López

Carlos Varela Surprises Guests with an Impromptu Acoustic Performance!
ABOVE: Carlos Varela Surprises Guests with an Impromptu Acoustic Performance!

ABOVE: Carlos Varela Surprises Guests with an Impromptu Acoustic Performance! You know I had to get jiggy with angles just to mix things up a bit!

ABOVE: LEFT: Rebecca G. Torres of Lifestyle Remix and RIGHT: George Torres aka Urban Jibaro of Sofrito for your Soul

Guests in attendance got a chance to mingle after the talk back and I was happy to see George as we met very early on in the Digital Influencer space here in NYC and his good energy is always infectious! This was my first time meeting Rebecca! Their signs - orgullo latino - translates to 'Latino Pride'. I hope he doesn't mind me sharing, but when George shared his photos online, he said something super poignant that I felt a strong need to share as the words truly resonated with me - that Hispanic Heritage should be celebrated year round not just September 15th - October 15th.

I love taking photos of people but try to avoid the camera myself, but everyone egged me on so here is mine:

ABOVE: Your very own Ascending Butterfly holding the signs 'Amor/Love'


ah Butterflies, today for the first time in a long while, this is the part of my story that I dread. There are very mixed feelings as I write 'My Take' today. 

My previous experience with HBO Latino was for last year's Carlos Santana, Santana Corazon: Live from Mexico Live it to Believe It Special, I shared my sneak peek of it HERE. I couldn't possibly say enough about how much I truly enjoyed this event. (The press line was a bit manic - but they always are, in NYC you have to have thick skin to stand in a press line and have super tall men knocking into you and shoving you to get a shot).

But this event, sadly, I didn't love. It didn't feel as welcoming or warm as the feelings that abounded during the Santana event. These events were night and day and you wouldn't think the same team was behind them.

I got there and was told I was not on the press list, then they couldn't find my name at all. When my name was finally found (mostly by MY ability to read and spot my name in small print upside down) it was not on a press list. I rode the elevator with Ron Chapman who must have had trouble at the door also, I saw them on my way in, and then caught up to them by the time the elevator arrived. Not a good start. When the auditorium got seated I chose a lower down seat that had NO marking on it whatsoever and was rudely told to 'Move so 'real' press could have that seat'. I pointed out that it was NOT marked reserved and waved my DSLR at her, informing I was invited to Blog about the event. That didn't seem to matter so I moved, and told her pointedly, 'the way I am being treated is the coverage you can expect'.

So as promised I am sharing the good, the bad and the downright ugly. That my friends was the straw that broke this camel's back. The moment this happens at an event I shut down. I was truly furious at their rudeness.

I was considering not covering this event at all as a form of protest, so brands can learn they can't call us 'press' when it's convenient and then treat Digital Press like crap during an event - but it didn't seem fair to Carlos Varela or Ron who were nothing but nice to everyone. So I have opted to make my time worth something since they are certainly not paying me and I have absolutely nothing to lose by being honest.

I want to see more films about Latinos on screen and the way to do that is to cover them. The more exposure and the more demand, the better the quality of film-making about the Latino Community will be. But the lack of cohesion between what was being presented and the warm and fuzzies they wanted us to have and the poor way I was treated is quite a dichotomy. And therein my friends lies the rub.

The movie airs Friday, October 23rd on HBO LATINO at 8pm/7 Central and you can follow the action on social using the hashtag #POETOFHAVANA - the movie, EXCELLENT, the subject matter fascinating - watching a decades old embargo come to a close and what is going to happen now is an amazing time in Latino History - the way I was treated at this event however - Not So Much......

˙·٠•● Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ●•●•٠·˙˙·٠•● Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ●•●•٠·˙˙·٠•● Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ●•●•٠·˙

FTC Disclosure: All opinions are 100% MY OWN. This is an event recap. No Compensation has been received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255 - Guides Concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, you may check our Giveaway and Disclosure Page for additional information regarding Ascending Butterfly Disclosure.


  1. It sounds like you had a hectic time to start with, it's a good thing you found your name lol. I bet it was a wonderful and memorable occasion after you got over the bump in the road.

  2. OMG, I am sorry you didn't have as good of an experience as last year. I went to an event with my family last weekend and the tickets that were supposed to be left at the box office with me, weren't. They made some calls and got it all straightened out, but it took a good 20 minutes and my kids were getting antsy.

  3. I bet the event was fabulous! I love going to plays and I love Cuban music. It makes me want to dance all night long! I sure it was an experience to be remembered!

  4. It stinks you were not able to enjoy yourself at the event. It sounds like this is a good movie. Catherine S

  5. Caridad dela Luz us very pretty! Sounds like a huge fan event!

  6. Looks like you had a lot of fun. Occasionally, I get to go to these events, and I always have a great time too.

    Thank you for sharing your experience from this event. It was a real treat. :)

  7. I love that you quoted him saying heritage should be celebrated all year long! I think people forget to celebrate their ancestors and where they came from. THis looks like a ton of fun :)

  8. So sorry to hear that you had that kind of experience. I don't blame you for wanting to give the bad with the good. They need to treat everyone with respect. I do hope the movie does well.

  9. Spoken word events are so cool! I love seeing this kind of artistry - it's so different!

  10. Best review ever. I have had this treatment because people are just idiots, but that does not take away from the talent involved with the event. I love, love, love your honesty! And your last picture!

  11. I didn't realize it was Hispanic heritage month. This seems like it was a lot of fun to attend.

  12. Sounds like a great event. Thanks for sharing photo highlights, details and your opinions!

  13. We should indeed be proud of our heritage and do it on a daily basis! Interacting with people from the same heritage or from different ones is such a fulfilling experience.

  14. It's dismal to be treated shabbily no matter who you are. I'm glad you found your name, but am really sorry about the unhappy treatment. Shame on them and the message they sent instead of the one that should have been delivered.

  15. I'm sorry to hear that you didn't get to enjoy the event. Glad that you fond your name despite the not so good treatment.

  16. I've been to an event and not had my name on the right list, or my tickets where they were supposed to be. In fact, I've had it happen a couple of times. It's awful frustrating, especially if it was an event you were looking forward to, which I imagine you were since it was so great last year. And I love that last pic., glad they egged you on. :)

  17. This looks like a fun event. I bet you had a great time! I would love to attend something like this in my area!

  18. This film sounds like a great film and one with a story that needs hearing. To often the stories that need told aren't so kudos to HBO for airing this!

  19. I wish it had been all a good event. Sadly most do treat bloggers with this attitude you received. So sorry about that. Glad you did get in and experience this tho.