Summary VOTE FOR ME! is a political comedy set in El Barrio: the story of a 70-year old Puerto Rican super who runs for Congress and wins. It was written and directed by a former New York State Assemblyman (from El Barrio), and draws on his actual experiences.
Leo…………..……………….Ricardo Barber Professor…………………....Malik Yoba Chi Chi……………..…..……Angel Salazar Moco……………..…………..Jose Ramon Rosario Gloria……………..………….Gloria Irizarry Congressman Blanco……..Manuel E. Santiago
Writer/Director: Nelson Antonio Denis Producers: Lynn Tiede, Alex Rodriguez, Roni Wheeler, Salvador Bolivar Cinematographer: Salvador Bolivar Editor: Ricardo Serena Sound Design: Daniel Pagan Music: Sammy Peralta
VOTE FOR ME!
---Synopsis--- VOTE FOR ME! is a political comedy set in El Barrio, New York City: the story of a 70-year old Puerto Rican super who runs for Congress and wins. Written and directed by former State Assemblyman Nelson Antonio Denis, the film stars Ricardo Barber, the acclaimed actor from New York's Repertorio Espanol. It also stars Malik Yoba, the leading actor in the TV series NEW YORK UNDERCOVER, BULL, KINGPIN, and whose major film appearances include COP LAND, SOUL FOOD and SMOKE.
A Congressman dies, a super chases drug dealers with his mop, and Moco wants his dominoes back. These are just a few of the many elements of VOTE FOR ME!, a rich tapestry of Latino characters that conveys the drama, humor and betrayal of New York politics. Nearly everything in this movie is autobiographical: including a suddenly dead incumbent, a three-way special election, blood-sucking consultants, drunken domino players, opinionated drug dealers, a midget field operative, a grocery store headquarters, a conga drum campaign bus, a raucous debate, outdoor salsa parties, midnight poster raids, and fistfights over the posters.
Leo Machuchal is a sad and lonely man. His mother is dying in the hospital; he works as a super in a grimy building; he gets no respect from his neighbors, the local domino players, or even the corner drug dealers. At 70 years old, his life feels pointless. All of this changes when the Congressman of El Barrio (East Harlem) dies unexpectedly, and a series of accidents propel Leo into the forefront of a hotly contested campaign. Even the domino players get behind Leo. Without any money, without a clue, the irascible Leo becomes the favorite son of El Barrio! Leo has a few rough edges… How do you feel about drug dealers?
I don't pay 'em.
They're not homeless, they're bums!
But with a big heart and a bigger ego, Leo battles a dimwitted party hack (Al Blanco) and a racial opportunist (Dr. Nisha La Bimbuu). In a climactic TV debate, Leo dances his way into the voters' hearts, and wins the campaign. The story ends with old Leo delivering on his one campaign promise: one by one, corner after corner, Congressman Leo walks up to every drug dealer in El Barrio, and kicks them in the ass.
VOTE FOR ME!
Nelson Denis represented El Barrio as its State Assemblyman for four years (1996-2000).
A graduate of Harvard University (1977) and Yale Law School (J.D. 1980), he won national journalism awards as the Editorial Writer for El Diario/La Prensa.
Nelson recently wrote and directed his first feature film, VOTE FOR ME! (World Premiere, 2003 Tribeca Film Festival).
He has written eight feature-length screenplays, three plays, and directed many short films. In 1989, he received the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Film (NYFA). In 1991, he received a film production award from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). His award-winning short film, HOUND DOG, was screened at the New York Latino Film Festival, P.S. 22, and Cinefestival (San Antonio, Texas).
Nelson is an alumnus of the Playwright’s Workshop at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre and the Writer’s Lab at Intar Theatre. He studied acting with Herbert Berghof, Earle Hyman and Salem Ludwig at the HB Studio. He has passed on his writing experience to students at A. Phillip Randolph Campus High School, the Grosvenor Neighborhood House, and Teachers & Writers Collaborative.
VOTE FOR ME!
Salvador Bolivar graduated from the School of Visual Arts with a BFA in Cinematography. He has shot film for Abel Ferrara, Warrington Hudlin and Nestor Miranda, and has been DP, Assistant Camera, Gaffer and/or Grip on over 30 feature films. As a DP, his feature films include MAMBO CAFÉ starring Danny Aiello, Paul Rodriguez and Thalia; BLAZIN' starring Fat Joe, Cuban Linx and Angie Martinez; and VOTE FOR ME! starring Ricardo Barber, Malik Yoba and Angel Salazar. He has also shot music videos for MTV and BET, national television commercials, PSA's, and industrials. Editor/Post-Production Supervisor
Ricardo Serena is a New York-based filmmaker. His editing credits include CROSSING OVER WITH JOHN EDWARD, A&E INVESTIGATES, and MSNBC INVESTIGATES. For the Disney Channel, he served as Post-Production Coordinator on BEAR IN THE BIG HOUSE. For Nickelodeon, he was Assistant Editor of FIGURE IT OUT! FAMILY STYLE, and Associate Producer of GIVE KIDS THE WORLD and BEHIND THE SCENES/FAMILY DD 2K. Ric also directed and edited the acclaimed film TWELVE FINGERS, and directed/edited six episodes of CYCLE FEVER for the Sunshine Network. Sound Designer
Daniel Pagan has extensive experience in all phases of sound editing and sound design. He was Sound FX Editor for A BEAUTIFUL MIND, ED TV, DELLA VENTURA and SEX AND THE CITY (seasons 1-4). He was Assistant Sound Editor for APOLLO 13 (Academy Award for Best Sound, 1995), RANSOM, IN & OUT, DEADMAN WALKING, and I'M NOT RAPPAPORT. Daniel was also the Supervising Sound Editor for THE DEFINITE MAYBE, FLORES, and HUELEPEGA. Music Composer
Sammy Peralta is a jazz producer, writer, remixer and touring musician. His debut album ON THE ONE (N-Coded Music Label), for which he wrote/arranged all 10 songs, also featured his musicianship on the keyboards, soprano and alto sax, and percussion. His new album LOVE AFFAIR also features the work of Lenny White, Ron Carter, and Julio Virella. As an acclaimed remix producer, Sammy's clients have included Alicia Keys, Gloria Estefan, Destiny's Child, India Arie, and Tito Puente. VOTE FOR ME!
---Director's Statement--- My four years in the New York State Assembly were rich with drama, humor and betrayal. When I left politics I had a story to tell, but I had to tell it truthfully. I've always been inspired, and deeply moved, by the Italian Neo-Realists. I tried to follow their example. I tried to weave actors and non-actors, unadorned locations, and local musicians into a simple fabric…to tell the story of a humble man who finally made a difference. This man, Leo Machuchal, is based on two much-adored characters in Puerto Rican folklore: Juan Bobo (John the Dope) and El Alcalde Machuchal (Mayor Machuchal), a bumbling country hick who somehow becomes a big-city Mayor, and outsmarts "Los Yanquis" at every turn. The character is also based on Leo Rodriguez, a former employee of my Assembly office. I had to fire Leo when he beat up a local drug dealer, and the drug dealer filed a complaint against my office. Leo was 72 years old. In a time when Al Sharpton runs for President, Jerry Springer runs for U.S. Senate, Jesse Ventura is Governor of Minnesota, and Bob Dole sells Viagra, the line between politics and show business has become mighty slim. It is a time for simple, decent men and women - not celebrities or billionaires - to step forward and be heard in this world. The greatest shock during our four-week shoot was not the movie itself. It was the anxious phone calls from Congressman Charlie Rangel's office, demanding to know "who is this Leo Machuchal?" and "why are you supporting him against me?" All humor aside, the Congressman should be worried. A generation of Leo Machuchals would revolutionize our government, and change the way we live. I hope my movie helps it happen.
VOTE FOR ME!
---Cast Biographies--- RICARDO BARBER (Leo)
For over 35 years, Ricardo Barber has won international acclaim as a leading actor in Cuba, Spain and New York City. He has been a member of REPERTORIO ESPANOL since 1981, and he won Best Actor Awards at both the ACE Awards and the Chamizal International Festival. Most recently, Ricardo received rave reviews for his leading role in LA FIESTA DEL CHIVO, now currently playing in the REPERTORIO ESPANOL. MALIK YOBA (Professor)
As a star in television's NEW YORK UNDERCOVER, BULL, and KINGPIN, Malik Yoba won the 1996 and 1997 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series. He also starred in the feature films COP LAND, SOUL FOOD, COOL RUNNINGS, and SMOKE. ANGEL SALAZAR (Chi Chi)
Angel Salazar is a nationally-known stand-up comedian with recurring gigs at Caroline's, The Comedy Club, The Dunes Hotel, and Catch A Rising Star.
Known as "Mr. Check It Out" by comedy fans across America, Angel also starred in the feature films SCARFACE, PUNCHLINE, and CARLITO'S WAY. JOSE RAMON ROSARIO (Moco)
Jose Ramon Rosario has over 20 years of stage, film, and television experience. He played Frisco in the Broadway production of THE LEFT HAND MIRROR, and appeared on over two dozen Off-Broadway and Regional stages. His recurring roles on television include OZ, THE COSBY SHOW, 100 CENTRE STREET, ANOTHER WORLD, and ONE LIFE TO LIVE. GLORIA IRIZARRY (Gloria)
Gloria Irizarry is a veteran actor with over 40 years of experience. Her work includes television's NAKED CITY, KOJAK, EAST SIDE/WEST SIDE, THE DEFENDERS, THE COSBY SHOW, and 100 CENTRE STREET. Her films include THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY, JACOB'S LADDER, Q&A, REPORT TO THE COMMISSIONER, and THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS. MANUEL E. SANTIAGO (Congressman Blanco)
Manuel E. Santiago is another New York veteran. Over the past 28 years his films include PRINCE OF THE CITY, NEW JACK CITY, ROMANCING THE STONE, SEE NO EVIL HEAR NO EVIL, and FORT APACHE: THE BRONX. His television work includes SPIN CITY, LAW & ORDER, ANOTHER WORLD, GUIDING LIGHT, and ALL MY CHILDREN.
VOTE FOR ME!
---Audience and Market Potential--- What do NBC, ABC, CBS, Universal Pictures, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the U.S. Census Bureau have in common? All of them have recognized the explosive growth of the U.S. Latino population. NBC purchased Telemundo, the national Spanish-language network, with NBC Chairman Bob Wright declaring "this is the most dynamic market in the United States, but the market is thinly penetrated." ABC launched the George Lopez Show, with Senior V.P. of Programming Felicia Behr announcing "the biggest audience growth is the Hispanic audience." CBS, HBO, Showtime, and TNT have all started Spanish-language audio feeds, and Universal Pictures recently partnered with The Arenas Group to produce, acquire and distribute films for Latino audiences worldwide. The Motion Picture Association of America reported that "nationally, Hispanic moviegoers outnumber black ones," with MPAA President Jack Valenti announcing "the fastest growing admissions group is Hispanics."
(New York Times) The "Latino explosion" became official this year (2003) when the U.S. Census Bureau announced that, for the first time in American history, Latinos have eclipsed blacks as the nation's largest minority group. This fact translates into powerful box office dollars. VOTE FOR ME! is targeted to this core market of Latino and urban audiences. In addition its strong musical elements, and positive social content, give it a powerful "crossover" appeal for audiences that appreciate quality storytelling and universal themes. VOTE FOR ME! is positioned for worldwide theatrical distribution and aggressive ancillary sales. With a commanding niche market, extensive foreign-language opportunities, and a stirring sound track, the film seeks a distribution commitment that recognizes and exploits all these possibilities.