A South Bronx Tale (short film)

Written and directed by Janis Astor del Valle
Produced by Kurt Enger
Director of photography: Chris Green
Starring: Taina Sanchez, Christine DeJesus, Veridiana Montas, Rafael Payano, AnaMaria Correa.
(12:45 min.; DV; 2003, 2009)
15-year old Ariana lives in one of the most homophobic ‘hoods in the South Bronx, so coming out is not an option. Straddling two worlds works fine for Ariana — until she feels her life and reputation are threatened. Then, Ariana must choose between honoring herself or her traditional Latina culture.

Written and directed by Janis Astor del Valle, A SOUTH BRONX TALE features teen actors who worked with Astor when she was the Program Director for the youth group, A.C.T.I.O.N. (Activists Coming To Inform Our Neighborhood) at The Point, a community cultural center in the Hunts Point section of the South Bronx. The film, which Astor completely re-cut and re-mastered in 2009, was shot entirely on location in Hunts Point and originally released in 2003 as her graduate thesis project, A SOUTH BRONX TALE. That earlier version screened at festivals throughout the country, including the New York International Latino Film Festival, NewFest: New York Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival.

But Astor says she was always bothered by what she calls her “shoddy editing,” noting that “there were numerous sound and pixilation problems as well as scenes that just didn’t work, performance-wise.” She finally had the opportunity to correct the technical glitches and re-edit the piece with the help of her friend, filmmaker Dan Nocera. The result, she believes, is a cleaner, smoother and more sensible film.

Astor, who proudly defines herself as a Bronx-born Puerto Rican, says the inspiration for this film came from personal experience — her own struggles with identity as well as those faced by neighborhood youth. “I wrote it as a narrative, but it has a documentary feel to it. I think that’s because the kids and I have lived parts of this story…it’s very real to us.”

Astor, who received her M.F.A. in Film from Columbia University, earned thesis honors for the 2003 version of the film. She also won the 2008 Pitchathon and the Zaki Gordon Award for Screenwriting for her feature screenplay, WHERE THE SENORITAS ARE, a lesbian romantic comedy. For more information, email: info@janisastor.com.