Welcome back to the second article in the Spotlight series. Spotlight aims to introduce readers to women, LGBTQ+ women, gender-nonconforming individuals and BIPOC making waves in the film and TV industries. Highlighted here are the fantastic directors Janicza Bravo and Aitch Alberto.
In 2015, a stripper known by the name of Zola flooded Twitter with an epic tale of how she and her friend Jessica fell out. Five years later, in 2020, filmmaker Janicza Bravo released the aptly named “Zola” movie, which recounted the exact events that happened between the former friends.
“Zola” is the latest work of Bravo, a Panamanian and New York City native. Bravo has worked on incredible projects including many short films. “Eat!,” “Gregory Go Boom,” “Pauline Alone” and “Hard World for Small Things” are some of her notable shorts. Alongside “Zola,” Bravo has directed another feature length film called “Lemon,” which stars her former husband Brett Gelman. Bravo has worked in the TV industry as well, having directed episodes of the FX series “Mrs. America,” the Netflix series “Them,” the Hulu series “Kindred” and many more.
Janicza Bravo currently teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.
Aitch Alberto is a Cuban-Latina director and writer. Fans of Benjamin Alire Sanez’s book, “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe,” were shocked and excited at the announcement of Alberto directing a movie based on the book in 2021. Many of Alberto’s creative projects center on the gay experiences of young Latino men. This is no exception when it comes to Aristotle and Dante. The film made its premiere at the International Toronto Film Festival in fall of 2022, but also showed at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The film is currently awaiting distribution leaving many fans eager to see the film hit movie theaters and streaming services. Critics that viewed the film at Sundance and in Toronto are claiming it to be a great success. Drew Gregory, a critic on Rotten Tomatoes has this to say on the movie: “First and foremost a work of queer expression, this is the kind of YA cinema kids deserve.”
Alberto’s other works include the feature length film “Hara Kiri,” and the short films “Rubber Duckie,” “My Best Friend Ben,” “Ode to Abuela” and “Closet Doors.” In addition to these works, Alberto has written for J.J Abrams and Latoya Morgan’s HBO Max show “Dusters.” “Little America,” streaming on AppleTV+, is another anthology series she has written for.
For the time being, there is no word on any new projects Aitch Alberto is taking on. However, according to the illustrator of the original book, Sarah Coleman, there is speculation that another Aristotle and Dante movie will come out following the release of the first one.
If you are interested in reading more about minority directors like Janicza Bravo and Aitch Alberto, check out the previous Spotlight article on Charlotte Wells and Lulu Wang here.