Cuban-American Director Leon Ichaso Comes to Tacoma

September 17, 2013

Filmmaker will give a free talk Thursday, Oct. 10

Hispanic Film Festival runs Sept.–Nov.

TACOMA, Wash. – Leon Ichaso, the prolific Cuban-American director who has created works for Hollywood and television, ranging from comedies to biopics to drama, will give a free, public talk in Tacoma.

The talk, “Leon Ichaso: A Life in Film,” will be presented by the visiting director at 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 10 in the Tahoma Room of the university’s brand-new Commencement Hall in the center of campus. Admission is complimentary.

In conjunction with this visit, the university will present Ichaso’s 2009 film Paraiso the day before his talk, on Wednesday, Oct. 9. The film forms part of the 9th Annual Hispanic Film Festival. More details about the free film screenings are below.

Dubbed the “Scorcese of Salseros” by The New York Times, Ichaso has won multiple awards for his stories of big city success and personal heartbreak. He has worked with actors including Jennifer López (El cantante, 2006), Benjamin Bratt (Piñero, 2001), and Wesley Snipes (Sugar Hill, 1993) and has directed episodes of Miami Vice and Saturday Night Live. Paraiso, a thriller set in Miami’s Cuban community, opened the 2009 Miami International Film Festival.

Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1948, Leon Ichaso came to the United States at the age of 14. His experience of exile served as the inspiration for his first feature film, the Spanish-language film El Super (1979), which depicts a family of Cuban immigrants in New York City. His second film, Crossover Dreams (1985), starring the salsa musician and actor Rubén Blades, continued the theme of gritty, urban realism for which he became known.

“Some filmmakers and critics describe Ichaso as the poet of Latin New York, the self-appointed chronicler of the moment when Latinos were no longer confined to the kitchens of the city’s best clubs, but selling out concerts at Madison Square Garden and Carnegie Hall,” wrote Mirta Ojito, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and a recent University of Puget Sound guest lecturer, in The New York Times.

Ichaso’s success led him to mainstream work on iconic American television programs and on Hollywood movies including Sugar Hill, a film about the New York drug empire, and Piñero, a biographical feature about Nuyorican artist Miguel Piñero. He also made several highly acclaimed independent films, including Azúcar amarga (“Bitter Sugar,” 1996)—a story about a disillusioned Cuban communist.

Initially recognized for his focus on individuals pursuing life-changing dreams, Ichaso’s work has since expanded to include the broader American experience. He has won awards at the Berlin International Film Festival, Chamizal Independent Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, Miami International Film Festival, and Montreal World Film Festival.

The free talk is sponsored by the Chism Lecture in Humanities and Arts, which is supported by an endowment from Seattle businesswoman Catharine Gould Chism. A reception will follow.

9th Annual Hispanic Film Festival

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18
La forma exacta de las islas, in Rausch Auditorium, McIntyre Hall, free admission
Followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Julieta Vitullo

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 9
Paraiso, in McIntyre Hall, Room 103, free admission
Followed by a Q&A with director Leon Ichaso

6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 13
El lugar más pequeño, in Rausch Auditorium, McIntyre Hall, free admission

The 9th Annual Hispanic Film Festival is sponsored by the Hispanic Studies Program, Catharine Gould Chism Fund, and Seattle Latino Film Festival.

For directions and a map of the
For accessibility information please contact or 253.879.3236

Press photos of Leon Ichaso can be downloaded from:
Photos on page: Top right: Leon Ichaso; Above left: Leon Ichaso directing Marc Anthony in El Cantante ; Above right: Poster for Paraiso

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