From left: Leonard Davenport, Francisco Ordoñez (LFF), Director Terence Heuston, Producer Eddie Ruiz, Victoria Moroles, David Castaneda.

The film MADDOGGIN‘ enjoyed a well-received premiere at one of the country’s most established Latino film festivals: the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, also known as LALIFF, which was held July 17-25 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. With an opening screening for MADDOGGIN’ on Thursday, July 21st, 2011 in the shorts panel “Coming of Age Stories”, the film’s director, Terence Heuston, had high hopes for showing his 23:50 minute film at the fest: “Since ‘Maddoggin” is truly a Latino, East L.A. based story it was our goal all along to premiere at LALIFF. We weren’t sure if it was an achievable goal, so we were thrilled when we got accepted.  Also, since most of our cast and creative team is from East L.A. and many of them had never gotten to walk a red carpet or experience a major festival before, I was hoping to give them that experience.  So, I was very thankful to be included in such a prestigious festival in our hometown.”

Present for the red-carpet premiere were David Castaneda, Leonard Davenport, Justin Huen, Victoria Moroles, Damaris Diaz (“FAMILY ALBUM”), Hector Lopez, Nicole Ghastin (COYOTE UGLY), John Serge (VERONICA MARS), and Kikey Castillo (LET’S TALK).  Also, much of the creative team attended the event, including:  Denise Benton (Costume Design), Paige Orr (Casting Director), Samantha Chang (Make up), Tinh Luong (Assoc. Producer) and Jean Altadel (Assoc. Producer). Showing the Latino Film Fund’s support of the film were LFF Founders S.J. Main and Francisco Ordoñez.

The film MADDOGGIN‘ (the title is inspired by the term “Maddoggin’”, a slang term meaning to challenge someone by staring them down) is about ‘two best friends in East L.A. pressured to join the local gang. The choices the two boys make over one single day alter their lives forever.’ Shot entirely in urban locations in Los Angeles, the film lends a potent local realism to the challenging state of Chicano and “border” race youths struggling with the peer pressure of gang membership.

Director of Photography Daniel Ainsworth lent a keen eye to the film’s cinematography, providing a subtle framework through which the the actors’ strong performances speak for themselves. Heuston’s mastery of directing comes from a breadth of experience in film, ranging from cinematography and screenwriting at UCLA’s School of TFT to a successful career in commercial acting in such commercials as Priceline, Honda and Jared Jewelers. Producer Eddie Ruiz also provided a plethora of production and set know-how to Maddoggin’ from a long career as an actor in independent films and a continuing one in television acting with an exciting upcoming role opposite Don Johnson for NBC.

The short film’s future is very bright. After the screening at LALIFF, the filmmakers expect big things for the film. As Ruiz remarks: “It was such a privilege to be included in that incredible group of films.  We were blown away by the all the works curated by Marlene Dermer and her team.” Heuston chimes in: “It was truly a wonderful festival.  A lot of major festivals can feel like a machine that you don’t really get to take part in, but the LALIFF staff was so warm and welcoming.  It’s truly a filmmaker’s festival.  Also, there were so many talented artists there with whom we got the opportunity to discuss their work, it was a great opportunity to learn from people who know more than I do.  Also, having the support of LFF really raised the profile of our work at the festival.  Thanks to LFF everyone knew about “Maddoggin’” and we received a lot of positive feedback on the film.”

After playing to a packed house on Thursday, July 21st, the screening was followed by a special Latino Film Fund VIP Filmmakers’ Mixer at the Filmmaker’s Tent, donated by the LFF to honor all of the festival’s filmmakers, including Maddoggin‘, a participating film in the LFF’s Fiscal Sponsorship Program. Del Maguey Mezcal sponsored the notable Mezcal cocktail of the night, the Oaxacan Dream, while Taste of Pace Catering, spearheaded by Pace Webb, provided a buffet of yummy tapas, including tostada points and saffron currant mousse tartlets.

The LFF is proud to continue to support Team MADDOGGIN’ and we look forward to this powerful film’s successful run on the festival circuit!

“LIKE” Maddoggin’ on FACEBOOK and stay tuned to the film’s exciting developments!

<<<All photos by JC Olivera for LALIFF>>>