ABOUT US

FESTIVAL
DIRECTOR

GABRIEL TRAVERSARI

The Mesoamerican International Short Film Festival is directed by well renowned TV anchor and producer Gabriel Traversari. With over 25 years of experience as host, writer and content developer for 6 international TV networks including Univision, E! Latin America, Casa Club TV (a derivate station of MGM Networks, Latin America), Cosmpolitan TV and Mega TV, and as a recurring actor in Telemundo soap operas and drama series, Traversari has ample knowledge about the world of entertainment and the influential power of media communications.

As a photographer and filmmaker himself, he is also an active participant in the world of visual arts. For over 13 years, Traversari has contributed dozens of innovative cultural projects in Nicaragua, his country of origin, and is well aware of the talent potentiality as well as the limitations that exist in the Central American region. His desire to contribute to the development of important industries and artistic platforms has led him to conceive and organize such valuable initiatives as the Nicaraguan Music Awards, the Central American Music Conference, the Celumetrajes: the first Nicaraguan cell phone film festival, Latin Flavors, a very important gastronomy festival, and Myla Vox, a Nicaraguan musical group he created and catapulted to national stardom. He recently directed his first short film entitled La Carpa, which has, thus far, participated in over 12 international film festivals and has received numerous nominations and special mentions. He is currently finishing his second short, El Observador.

His personal friendship with Latin TV and film luminaries, distinguished empresarios and creative individuals from various walks of life, guarantees that this film platform will have a positive, long lasting impact on filmmakers from Mesoamerica and beyond. The desire to inform, instruct and incentivize is a top priority for Traversari, who will supervise every aspect of this festival and will generate a sense of “community” amongst its various participants. With an ever expanding team of successful, innovative advisers, the Mesoamerican International Short Film Festival will serve as a collaborative space for those who view cinema as a means, not only to entertain, but to generate awareness and bring people and cultures together.

INTERNATIONAL
BOARD OF ADVISERS

LILO VILAPLANA

Lilo Vilaplana is an award winning Cuban Film, Television and Theater director, whose most recent movie, Plantados has been making the festival circuits and receiving very positive reviews.

His short film, La Muerte del Gato won the Latin America Award at the Iberoamerican Short Film Festival in Spain, and his La Casa Vacía participated in the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. A third short, Agrypnia was accepted at the Festival del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano in Havana, Cuba.

Lilo received an Emmy Award for directing El Infierno de Montoya, an episode of the Fox International/National Geographic series: Arrepentidos, and has directed other successful TV series such as El Capo, for which he received numerous recognitions, La Mariposa, Lynch and Mentes en Choque, for Fox Telecolombia. In the realm of soap operas, he has directed La Dama de Troya, Por Amor, El pasado no perdona and Tabú, among others. He is also a screenwriter, director of numerous theatre productions and professor of acting and directing.

SETH ÁLVAREZ

Seth Álvarez is the winner of the 2020 IMCINE Creator Stimulus prize for “story lines”. He is the scriptwriter of Polvo blanco, a short film that won the 1st open call to support production in the states in 2015 (Colima) by IMCINE, and El Ocaso de Juan, another short film that won the Ariel in 2017. He graduated with a degree in business administration tourism at UNIVA, presenting his thesis about Cinematographic Tourism in Mexico. He received a certified course in Video at the audiovisual training unit of the University of Guadalajara and specialized in writing for cinema in Mexico, Spain and Cuba. He has been a grant holder at the TV Azteca school of writers, and, on two occasions, at the PECDA Colima program in the field of film scriptwriting. He has attended Ibero-American film writing encounters, the Screenwriters Summit with Syd Field, Michael Hauge, Linda Seger and John Truby, and the Robert McKee’s Story Seminar.

He has written the following short films: Todo está en tu Cabeza (Silvia Santoyo, 2018), Barristas (Jonathan Torres, 2017), La Bicicleta (Robinson Rios, 2017), La cita familiar (Mino Rimada, 2016), Reunión familiar (Jonathan Torres, 2016), Están llegando (Seth Alvarez, 2014) y Ruleta Rusa (Mike Olivier, 2011). He was an evaluation advisor for EFICINE 2018, a feature film script preselection jury member for the Guanajuato International Film Festival 2018 and coordinator at the 2016 Colima Film Festival script contest. He was a finalist in the category of “best plot” during the 2018 edition of the workshop for improvement and rewriting of horror feature films and subgenres contest, selected for the feature film script workshop at Feratum 2017, the residency for screenwriters: Visiones en el desierto, the residency at La Movida Leteo 2017 in Madrid, and at Cundinamarca, Colombia.

He was also selected to participate in the Winter Film Laboratory of Escribe Cine 2016, the 2016 Regional Film Consolidation Encounter for Feature Script, the 1st Film Encounter in Real del Monte, Hidalgo, in 2016 and the 1 ° Macabro Lab 2014 for script of horror feature film. His scripts have been chosen to participate in the Oaxaca film festival 2016 and 2017, at FICA 2014, at the Florian Rey Association in Zaragoza, Spain, in 2014, at the Desert International Film Festival 2013, at MORBIDO 2012 and at the Short Shorts Film Festival 2012. He has given workshops and conferences on film script at: CUSUR (the Southern University Center) in the University of Guadalajara, in 2018; the San Luis Potosí International Film Festival; the “Humanities Fair 2018”; the 30th Baccalaureate of the University of Colima; the Baja California International Film Festival; the Leteo Association in Madrid; Cundinamarca, Colombia (2013, 2015 and 2017); the Salagua Cultural Center in Manzanillo, Colima 2013; and the Faculty of Letters and Communication of the University of Colima, in 2012. He has received the Griselda Álvarez Award for letters in Cinema in 2017.

He offered the seminar “From the Script to the Screen” at the National Learning Service in Bogotá, Colombia, and that same year he was hired as adviser on the short Existimos en el silencio by Héctor Ibarra, which was selected by the Morelia International Film Festival 2018. That same year he was a guest of honor at the Baja California Film Festival and Polvo Blanco, a short film written by him, was recognized by the Girona Film Festival 2018. In 2019 he received the Prof. Manuel Murguía Acosta award in the field of linguistics and literature for his work as a screenwriter. He is currently a script workshop instructor at Cinefilias Coyoacán and his short film scripts, La Reunión, El danzante and Pájaros de barro are in pre-production.

ROBERTO ESCOBAR

Roberto Escobar is a renowned actor who has over 36 years of professional acting experience. His vast range of genres include highly acclaimed movies, TV series, soap operas, and theater in English, Spanish and Italian. He has worked in over 40 films, including Plantados, Transporter 2, My Father the Hero, The Perez Family, Hidden Rage, 11 Grados De Culpa, Change of Heart, directed by Kenny Ortega, and many more. Among his acting credits are international hit series, such as: El Señor de los Cielos, Bloodline, La Suerte de Loli, Silvana Sin Lana, the BBC’s Only Fools and Horses, Magic City, Burn Notice, Charlie’s Angels, FOX’s Tiempo Final, and numerous soap operas which are aired internationally. His outstanding performances have gained Roberto various awards for his work in film, theater and television. Included in these are the INTE award for best supporting actor for his interpretation of Coronel Santana, a ruthless prison warden, in the international production of Amantes del desierto.

The Association of Critics and Commentators of the Arts awarded him the ACCA Award for best comedic actor for his portrayal of Freddy in the hit Spanish sitcom Corte Tropical. He received the TV y Novelas Award for Best Actor in a TV Series for his role of George Martin in the international hit series Fuego verde and a Career Achievement Award from Carteles Magazine. In addition, Roberto has worked as a stuntman in various films and TV shows, including the action series Fuego verde, set in the Colombian Emerald Zone. He studied film production and directing and has served as producer for films such as Hidden Rage and Executive Producer for 11 Grados de Culpa and Perseguida.

WILLIAM VELA

William Vela is a prominent film promoter, actor and producer in the United States. Although his parents and grandparents are originally from Granada, he was born in Siuna, Nicaragua, in 1965. In the late 70’s, he and his family emigrated to Panama and later to the United States. He studied Marketing and Publicity at the University of Miami and, in 1995, went to train as an actor at The Actors Institute in New York. There he participated in several off-Broadway plays and American television shows. He moved to the West Coast in 1998 to continue learning acting techniques, this time at the Lee Strasberg Institute, in Los Angeles. During his three-year stay, he played secondary roles in movies such as Training Day and Proof of Life. In 2002, he returned to Miami, where he has had a solid career as an actor, producer and director. His curriculum includes over 250 television commercials and work as both, actor and producer, particularly for Telemundo Networks.

William is the founder and executive director of the Miami Short Film Festival, one of the best international film venues of its kind. For almost two decades, this multifaceted artist has supervised with care all aspects of this important cinematographic platform, where 1,500 short films from all over the world compete each year. This prestigious initiative offers workshops and lectures, provides pertinent and updated information on cinematic tendencies and generates conversational synergy amongst new and promising practitioners of this art form. A creative and dynamic leader in the world of entertainment, William continues to organize successful events and audiovisual productions. He is an indefatigable promoter of short films, establishing alliances and promotional strategies between sponsors and the various creative members of this fascinating and specialized industry.

MARTHA CLARISSA HERNÁNDEZ

Martha Clarissa Hernández (Nicaraguan/Honduran) is a renowned documentarian, producer, director and screenwriter for film and television. She began her studies and her film career at INCINE, the Nicaraguan Film Institute (1979-1989) under the methodology of “learning by doing”, where she carried out various roles: assistant director, producer, continuity, researcher, screenwriter, filmmaker and project manager. In 1990, she co-founded Luna Films, co-directing cinematographic pieces that have won numerous awards at international film festivals. She was director and co-executive producer of the TV series Contracorriente, a Nicaraguan production broadcast in more than 15 countries, is currently director and executive producer of MC Productions, and supervises the Nicaraguan subsidiary of Ícaro, the international film festival in Central America.

Martha Clarissa is fully dedicated to the development of audiovisual projects in both, the documentary genre and fiction, and holds conferences and workshops that focus on film and the production and direction of commercials. She received the Rubén Darío Cultural Independence Order, the maximum decoration awarded by the state of Nicaragua in the cultural arena, and has also been a theater director, acting coach and actress for the National Theater Company in Honduras.

CLAUDIO CALLAO

With 25 years of experience developing and directing dramatic and comedic projects in all its formats and a wide knowledge of the language of Brazilian, Venezuelan, Colombian and Mexican Latin American series and soap operas (for both the Latin American and the North American markets), Claudio Callao is a world-renowned and respected personality. Under his charge, he has led some of the most outstanding productions for international networks such as TV Azteca, Telemundo, Venevisión and SBT, in Brazil. Some of the soap operas he has directed include: Educando a Nina, Tres familias, La Fan, Bajo el mismo cielo, Reina de corazones, Marido en alquiler, Un esposo para Estela, Las dos Dianas, Cuando hay pasión and many more. He has received awards for his work in Bajo el mismo cielo, Reina de corazones, Marido en alquiler, Corazón valiente, Una maid en Manhattan and Voltea pa que te enamores.

Among the many variety programs under his supervision are: Protagonistas, for Univision Networks; Viviana a la media noche and Bienvenidos, for Venevisión; Ready, Steady Cook for Endemol Brasil; Vila Maluca, for Rede TV!, also in Brazil; and Juana la Iguana, for the Venezuelan/Colombian markets and which garnered the award for “Best Children’s Series” at the Chicago International Film Festival and the “Parents’ Choice Recommended Award”, among others. Claudio graduated from the School of Communications and Arts at the University of Sao Paulo, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Cinematographic Arts.

MARÍA JOSÉ ÁLVAREZ

María José Álvarez is a Nicaraguan documentary photographer, producer and film maker. In partnership with Honduran (nationalized Nicaraguan) Martha Clarissa Hernández, she co-founded the successful independent company Luna Films, whose documentaries on women, children, ethnography and human rights have been widely praised, both in Nicaragua and abroad. María José was a founding member of the Nicaraguan Film Institute (INCINE, acronym in Spanish) and the first female film director in Central America. Her early works include La Costa Atlántica (1980) and Pan con dignidad: carta abierta de Nicaragua (1983). She has published several photography books, among them Estampas del Caribe Nicaragüense, the first photographic essay on the region, which she co-authored with Claudia Gordillo. She was also a founder of Bluefields TV9, the first television channel ever on the southern Caribbean coast of Nicaragua.

With Luna Films, she co-produced a number of documentaries that would go on to win international awards. Some of these include: Lady Marshal, voted best documentary at the Caribbean Film Festival held in Martinique (1991); No todos los sueños han sido soñados, first place at the Amnesty International Film Festival, Amsterdam (1996); Desde el barro al sur, first place (shared) for best documentary, best soundtrack and best editing at the V Ícaro International Film Festival in Guatemala (2002); The Black Creole (memorias e identidades), awarded prizes at the Costa Rica International Film Festival (2013) and the Helsinki Film Festival (2015); and Lubaraun (al encuentro de…), best ethnic documentary at the Contra El Silencio Todas las Voces International Film Festival (2017) and first place at the Garifuna International Film Festival (2017). In 2019, María José debuted Antojología de Carl Rigby, a posthumous tribute to the iconoclastic poet from Nicaragua’s Caribbean Coast, and co-directed by Eduardo Espiegeler (R.I.P.).

YESID LEONE

Yesid Leone is a young and distinguished Colombian director whose first professional job was as scriptwriter and director of the video feature Clarividencia (2003), with which he participated in the 44th edition of the Cartagena International Film Festival (2004) in the category of “International Video Feature”. Throughout his career, he has made around 20 short and medium-length films, including Partida Blitz, Código Sombra, Desaparecida and El amanecer, which participated in the New Latin American Cinema Festival, in Havana, Cuba. In 2008, he founded his film company Resplandor Films, where he has developed and produced more than 40 projects, including his feature films, 11 Grados de culpa and Perseguida, made in 2016 and released in 2019 in national cinemas and bought by HBO Latino for the North American region. Yesid is currently in pre-production of his next movie Línea de tiempo.

PIERRE PIERSON

Pierre Pierson was born in Managua, Nicaragua, in 1961. His multifaceted artistic career encompasses both scenic and plastic arts, movie and video production and writing. He graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the University of Miami and studied Drama at the respected Grupo Prometeo, where he acted in plays such as La hora de la fantasía, by Ana Bonacci, and Los saludos, by Eugene Ionesco. For the latter, he was nominated for the Best Young Actor award given by the Association of Critics and Commentators of the Arts (ACCA, acronym in Spanish). Pierson’s paintings have been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in the Dominican Republic, the Gallery of Fine Arts in Miami and the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C. He was art director at Miami Dade College and won local, statewide and national prizes for his work at that institution.

For two consecutive years, he designed the campaign for the Miami International Book Fair, one of the ten most important events of that nature in the United States, winning awards for both, best poster and best brochure. He was appointed vice minister of Culture during Violeta Barrios de Chamorro’s administration and, in 2008, received the Rubén Darío Order of Cultural Independence, the highest acknowledgement from a Nicaraguan President to personalities who have stood out in various fields of culture. Pierre was the producer, director and scriptwriter of Metal y vidrio, a film that garnered awards as Best Short by the American Film Institute and the OAS and as best fictional film at the V Festival Ícaro in Guatemala. He also wrote the movie’s theme song, and has, in fact, written over a dozen songs which have been recorded by various singers and climbed to high ranking spots on Latin American music charts. With twelve books published to date, his literary work has crossed borders into the rest of Central and South America. He is, furthermore, recognized in Nicaragua as one of the best and most prolific writers of children’s stories. In 2018, he was included in the anthology Nicaragua cuenta, published in Spain.