June 2003

Reviewed by Tinia Gray

Distributor: Film Movement
Director: Eric Eason
Production Company: The 7th Floor
Screenwriter: Eric Eason
Running Time: 78 minutes

Leo Minaya (Manny Moreno), Franky G (Junior Moreno), Manuel Cabral (Oscar Moreno), Julissa Lopez (Miriam Moreno), Jessica Morales (Marisol), Jeff Asencio (Ignacio), Edwin De Leon (Roberto), Panchito Gomez (Rodchenko), Hector Gonzalez (Abuelo), Adreal Irizarry (Hercules), Yovanna Jose (Nena), Casper Martinez (Enrique), Petra Quinones (Aunt Aida), Lavidania Ramirez (Anita), Tiffany Yates (Mrs. Wendorf)



Check the directorial debut of Eric Eason in Manito. This 2002 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize winner, rooted in the Latino Diaspora, is the tale of two brothers who are trying to break the cycle of drugs and violence in their family. Played by Franky G., Junior Moreno, an ex-convict struggling to get his life back, tries to prevent his little brother from becoming another casualty. Leo Minaya plays his little brother Manito “Manny”, the salutatorian of his high school class, who faces an ill-fated decision on the night of his graduation.

Weather from the streets to the corporate boardroom, this multi-faceted film will envelop all viewers into a rapidly changing Latino community. Right from the beginning of the film, these two brothers bring you into their family as a family friend. Shot in cinema verite, the manner of the film is surprising, uncommon, yet inviting. It makes the issues a reality, as if these are real people living real lives. The most interesting scene of the movie is found at Manny’s graduation party, where he is celebrated by all his family and friends. As the salutatorian of his class Manny is the hope of both his family and the neighborhood. The community comes together to commend his success.

One of the most powerful aspects of the film was the turnaround of the film after the graduation party ended. About to go off to college, Manito’s decisions dictated a lifestyle that he had steered clear of his whole life.

Manito is a magnificent film that is expressive of the challenges, struggles, and decisions facing both the African-American and the Latino community. So, check your art-house listings for this film. It’s one film you don’t want to miss.