SensaCine sneaks into the filming set of ‘En un barrio de Nueva York’ where its protagonists tell us how this musical film was built, starring Latinos, which talks about their dreams and portrays cultural diversity.
The bustle and color is evident in the press visit to the filming set of In a New York neighborhood (In the Heights). A musical film, produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which hits Spanish cinemas today. A hairdresser, a grocery store, a cellar or an alley serve as the setting for the musical numbers that celebrate diversity. And the interpreters with whom we are meeting They infect the passion and good humor that this film that adapts a university play, which was transformed into a musical and triumphed on Broadway, exudes. SensaCine has had the opportunity to stroll through these New York streets scented with West Side Story, and talk from you to you with its protagonists and this is what they have told us.
“I, as the son of immigrants, grew up in this neighborhood of Washington Heights. And the film is a love letter to all those people who inhabit it and to the sacrifices they have made to help us move forward. It’s like we’re sending a message to our families outside of the United States saying don’t worry about us and we’re fine. It is a happy letter for those who fought for us to see that we did well in the US ”. This is how Lin-Manuel Miranda, the producer of the musical that adapts the film, tells the germ of his story. The actor, who also has a role in the film, exudes passion, love and energy.
Miranda plays the Piragüero on screen.
I dressed like my grandfather to do it ”, he acknowledges. “He has been my inspiration for the role, since he died a week after the play opened on Broadway. And my father has also been an important support when making this film, since he helped me with the logistics and put me in contact with many people who have collaborated with us so that what we show on screen is real. Seeing this neighborhood represented the way we have done it means a lot to me.
Lin Manuel MIranda: “It has been a long way here”
One of the keys to the film is that the team has not had much trouble playing the role of immigrants who dream far away, because many of them simply had to think of their parents or grandparents to get into the role. It even happened to director Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians). He greets us with a smile from ear to ear and confesses that he is about to be a father. “My parents are Chinese and they came here without even speaking English, they opened a restaurant and it has already turned 50. I am living the American dream thanks to them, and that is why I was so excited to direct a film that spoke of that hope of improve your life, “he explains.
During the tour of the filming, when you get to the hairdresser, the madness begins and that is that even the wigs dance! They are recording the funny musical number Do not tell me that takes place in Daniela’s (Daphne Rubin-Vega) hairdresser, who celebrates Nina’s return to the neighborhood, but she confesses that she does not want to go back to university to finish her studies.
During a break, actress Leslie Grace talks about what this first shoot of her career has meant for her: “We are representing a community with its royal islands, its families. Every day that I come to work, I feel at home, surrounded by my people, ”says the young woman. And he adds: “What happens to Nina, my character, has happened to all of us when we do not know with certainty who we are or where we are going. She has managed to be admitted to Stanford, but she does not feel comfortable and does not want to return. But when she discovers the enormous sacrifice her father has made so that she can study, the pressure is enormous. “
Community, diversity and big dreams. This is ‘En un barrio de Nueva York’, the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda turned into a film
Corey Hawkins it also shines with its own light as Benny, with whom Nina is in love. “Benny sees how others are looking for his place and even planning to escape the neighborhood, when in reality he understands that Washington Heights is his home,” he tells us. He adds:
We rehearsed all the musical numbers for two months, meeting dancers and musicians from Washington Heights so we could truly integrate into the culture of this community.
Not only does it celebrate our culture through music and dance, it also talks about our history and the difficulties we have had to overcome. I am very excited that everyone can get to know our culture and fall in love with it with this film.
We also know Vanessa’s love, her name is Usnavi – which was the inscription of the US ships seen from the coast (US NAVY) – and she is, according to the actress herself, the person who best understands and knows her. To her and perhaps to all the characters, because Usnavi, is the narrator of this story: “It all started with a breakfast with director Jon Chu in which we connected in a special way,” he reminds us. Anthony Ramos, the actor who embodies it, and who after doing the tests, in the absence of news, was about to work on another film.
“For me this project is like a dream. My family is Puerto Rican and I grew up in an environment very similar to the one we show, so this story is very personal and special to me. And I understand my character very well, since Usnavi feels trapped and has dreams of leaving the neighborhood and doing great things ”.
Usnavi’s role in the musical was played by Lin-Manuel Miranda himself. “He has been like an older brother to me. His work has changed my life, because being Latino I have felt that our voice was not being heard until it did. In the Heights. When I saw the musical I felt that I knew those people who were on stage. Lin-Manuel has opened the door for many Latino artists and has inspired us to develop our own projects ”.
This is above all a story of dreams and dreamers but beyond the stigma of the immigrant. In the words of producer Anthony Bergman: “The movie shows immigration from a human point of view, we don’t usually see them having fun and that’s what this story does.” And this is what another producer, Scott Sanders, points to, “Miranda managed with his musical to celebrate the community of Washington Heights where he grew up. There are many people, even in New York, who do not know this neighborhood. I believe that the
film transports the viewer to this special place, full of culture, joy and color, through characters who face very real problems. That is why we think that it is a universal story, with which everyone can connect ”.
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Lin-Manuel Miranda: ‘In a New York neighborhood’ is a letter to those who fought for us so that they can see that we did well in the US “- Movie News