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Ernesto Martinez Wins HBO Award and Licensing Agreement

La Serenata (“The Serenade”) has won the inaugural “HBO Latino/ Official Latino Short Film Competition.”

La Serenata (“The Serenade”)—a film written and co-produced by Ernesto Martinez, assistant professor of indigenous, race and ethnic studies—is about two parents who struggle with their Mexican musical tradition when their son requests a love song for another boy. The award ceremony was held on November 2, 2019 in Palm Desert, California, and was hosted by the Official Latino Film and Arts Festival.

The award comes with a $10,000 prize and a 2-year licensing agreement with HBO.

Written by Martínez and directed by Adelina Anthony, the film is a beautiful cinematic offering of healing for LGBTQ youth and their families. “La Serenata transforms the emotional pain felt by many LGBTQ youth into an empowering story for our community,” said Martinez. “It also provides families with an opportunity to reflect on beloved cultural practices in ways that heal historical trauma and that work to expand traditions to include everyone.”

Among the film’s accolades, La Serenata has won the Imagen Award for Best Short Film; the Imagen Awards have been called the “Latin Golden Globes” and have featured well-known artists such as Guillermo Del Toro, Salma Hayak and Gina Rodriguez. The film has also won multiple film festival awards in Washington, Connecticut, Texas, and California, and has been screened internationally in Spain, Italy, and India.

A unique feature of the film is that it is an adaptation of Martínez’s own award-winning children’s book, When We Love Someone We Sing to Them/ Cuando Amamos Cantamos (Reflection Press, 2018). This books is considered to be the first bilingual children’s book published in the United States about a boy who loves a boy. Illustrated by the award-winning artist and children’s book author Maya Gonzalez, the book crafts a visually stunning story about the Mexican serenata tradition, and demonstrates why expressing romantic affection proudly, publicly, and through song is such a valued custom. The book earned the International Latino Book Award in two categories: “Best Children’s Fiction Picture Book written in English” and the “Mariposa Award” for Best First Book, and was listed on the “Rainbow Book List” by the American Library Association as one of its top 13 children’s books with LGBT content of 2019.

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