Friday, April 22, 2016

Wounded Veterans featured in a NALIP Latino Lens short film directed by combat veteran

 Combat veteran Rebecca Murga has been awarded a grant from the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) Film Incubator to tell the fictitious story of a Colombian-born immigrant, who was wounded in the Afghanistan war.

The film follows a wounded warrior, played by real-life combat veteran and resident of San Antonio, Juan Amaris, on his first day home. It's the first time he sees his larger-than-life Colombian family after he is released from the hospital on Halloween night.

Juan Amar is originally from Cali, Colombia. He served as a sergeant in the U.S. Army deployed to Iraq where he was injured in theater on June 20, 2006. He was burned over 77% of his body and lost the use of both hands.

"The story is based on my experience interviewing soldiers in Afghanistan, as well as some of the documentary work I did at Brooke Army Medical Center, in San Antonio with wounded warriors," said Murga. "The audience will get a deeply authentic experience because the main character will be played by my dear friend, Juan. Given the topic of immigration in this country, I thought it was important to see the sacrifice of immigrants, and how they were effected by the war."

Juan recalled the day of the explosion, "When the fuel truck blew up, I just turned my face and that's why my face didn't get burned but my uniform I couldn't take it off. My T-shirt burned on top of my body." His motto today is "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you... YOU are in charge of your attitude."

Announced at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival Latino Reels panel, the grant is funded by the Time Warner Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. Also announced by NALIP, HBO would sign on to distribute the films on one of their digital platforms in an effort to increase diverse voices in filmmaking.

The NALIP film incubator, funded by the Time Warner Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, will provide contributions for pre-production, production, and postproduction tools, resources, and assets to support the four filmmakers in the program. NALIP will also consult with filmmakers on a viable distribution strategy to maximize exposure at the Latino Media Summit. In June, they will premiere the films in front of investors and producers, with the intent of getting the feature film funded.

Latino Lens, presented by NALIP and supported by a group of industry, media and organizational sponsors, is a new, exclusive incubation and media content production program designed to develop, nurture and produce a series of creative Latino projects. Serving simultaneously as a distribution model of Latino media screenings, festivals and speaker showcases, the Latino Lens program highlights Latino talent as producers, directors and writers.

"With Latino Lens, NALIP is thrilled to provide original production programming and support and promote Latino content creators and filmmakers. With the embarrassing and shameful lack of diversity seen yet again at this year's Oscars, NALIP focuses on actions that directly address this need for change within and without Hollywood's antiquated system," said Axel Caballero, Executive Director of NALIP.

About Filmmaker Rebecca Murga

Rebecca Murga, Army Reservist, is an award-winning filmmaker who works in Los Angeles as a writer and director. She produces and directs short films, commercials, and digital series in both English and Spanish. Currently serving as a Captain and Public Affairs Officer in the US Army Reserve, Rebecca has deployed to Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. She was a 2015 participant in the prestigious AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women. She is a recipient of the U.S. Army Keith L. Ware Award for excellence in broadcast journalism. Learn more at


The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) seeks to inspire, promote, and advocate for Latino content creators in media. As an established non-profit organization, NALIP advances the development of Latino content creation through its programs focusing on narrative, documentary, TV, and digital formats. For more information, visit

Learn more at