Nuevo Rico

A Weekly Short Film Review

Starting today, as we publish this article, we’d like to put a short film in the spotlight. Often overlooked, these are the pieces of cinematic art that immerse the viewer in just a few minutes. We would like to recognize and highlight them with a weekly small review. 

I hope you enjoy as much as I do discovering these short films, and stay tuned for more Small Films

The first short film to talk about is the one that inspired this initiative, Kristian Mercado Figueroa’s Nuevo Rico. 

This animated sci-fi set in dystopian Nuevo Rico (pretty much like struggling colony Puerto Rico in real life, but futuristic) chronicles the lives of sister and brother Barbie and Vico, stumbling upon a celestial entity’s secret that launches them into Reggaetón superstars. Just as reggaetón music combines different genres, the animation also mixes animation styles, including drawovers and CGI. 

In Fact…

In addition to portraying Boricua culture and history, the director also discusses colonialism, capitalism, and consumerism in the country, as well as mass migration in the last decade. It results in a Huxleyan dystopia that vividly illustrates our Puerto Rican experience. The voices from Orange Is The New Black’s Jackie Cruz and Antonio Vizcarrondo as the siblings are exceptional. Their dramatic tone adds to the emotional experience of our representation in them. 

Produced by Blue Beetle’s director, Angel Manuel Soto, Kate Chamuris, and Debora Perez, this film has been selected at multiple film festivals and won some awards, including the SXSW Jury Award in 2021. Nuevo Rico is an adventure about two siblings’ desires for stardom. But it’s about the vicissitudes of a capitalist society held in colonization and how we can hold on to our culture. 

Nuevo Rico is a 16-minute vaporwave dream where we sing and dance Reggaetón no matter how much we struggle. And that is a Puerto Rican dystopia. 

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