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Filmmaker Wants Hispanics To Star

Mockumentary About Dysfunctional Dominican Family In Hartford Premieres At Wadsworth

Susan Dunne

August 26, 2012

Giovanny Blanco has a bone to pick with casting directors.

"Everyone is always going 'we need a Hispanic type' or 'we need a black type' or 'we need a gay type.' They're not saying, 'we need a lawyer who happens to be Hispanic.' "

But Blanco did more than just complain about limited opportunities for nonwhite actors. He made a movie to let a group of those actors shine.

"I wanted to show that this family is like any other family. There shouldn't be anything, outside of language, where people would say, 'Oh, my God, that would never happen in my family,' " Blanco said. "Everyone has a cousin who thinks he's a hustler. Everybody has an overbearing mother and grandmother. Lots of working moms are very hardcore about their professions and their Pilates. These types are not restricted by ethnicity."

Blanco's movie is "The Last Intervention," a mockumentary about a dysfunctional Dominican family in Hartford that volunteers to shoot a documentary about interventions, to help them cope with teen daughter Melky's wild behavior. It will have its world premiere at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford on Thursday, Aug. 30.

Blanco was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and raised in both New Jersey and the Dominican Republic. But when his parents separated and his father wanted to move back to the United States, he moved his sons, Giovanny and Rafael, to Hartford.

Giovanny graduated from Hartford High in 1989. He went to an audio engineering school in New York, then "bounced around" at several Connecticut state and community colleges, before settling at the New School for film.

He lives with his wife, Sarah Thorp, the movie's screenwriter, in Los Angeles, and works as a video editor.

Blanco's first feature film, "Cornelius," was seen locally at the 2008 installment of the now-defunct Hartford International Film Festival. It was a drama about a man trying to reconnect with his son after a stay in a psychiatric facility. Blanco said the grave subject matter was leavened with some humor.

He went for all-out funny with this, his second film, and he drew upon his real life. "When I was growing up, I played rock music. It wasn't necessarily frowned upon by my parents, but there was a lot of concern from my not-so-immediate family," he said. "There were rumors about me and my brother, 'they're on drugs, they're crazy' ... just because you're going to see Metallica or David Bowie.

"It's funny looking back on it now, but then, we were teenagers, and we're like, whatever."

The spirited cast ran with the comedy, having great fun playing characters who, each in their own way, have problems to sort out, too. "Weeds" actor Hemky Madera, who is Dominican, is a standout as Melky's blowhard father, as is Wanda Nobles Colon as a camera-hogging aunt. In addition to the rest of the Hispanic cast -- Connecticut singer-actress Catherine Dixon, as well as Alyssa Abreu, Mark Gonzalez, Nercido Mota and Blanco's aunt Damaris Blanco -- Amanda Brooke Lerner is hilarious as the wacked-out "interventionist," who has a history of out-of-control antics.

Some scenes were shot in New Jersey and New York. "We were going to go to a quinceanera and instantly my brother and I said, 'OK, we're going to be in a big room with a band and 200 people and dancing. We need to go and shoot a scene there,' " he said. "That's the kind of thing that happens when you're producing a low-budget movie."

He said that to date, $15,000 of his own money has been spent making the movie.

But most of the movie was shot in Hartford with a Hartford-based crew. "We couldn't have done this without the work of Daniel Salazar, the cinematographer," Blanco said.

The most important crew member, however, and one of the most important people in Blanco's life, is his brother, Rafael. He co-produced and portrays a cameraman in the movie-within-a-movie.

"We're barely a year apart. He's my best friend," Blanco said. "He's not my right hand man. He's my whole right side. I can't do anything without him."

"THE LAST INTERVENTION" will be shown on Thursday, Aug. 30, at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main St. in Hartford. A reception with a cash bar starts at 6 p.m. The movie starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free, but a $5 donation is suggested. Details: http://www.wadsworthatheneum.org.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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