We had the good fortune of connecting with Cony Martinez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Cony, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Human connectivity through storytelling and film. We have so many “official centers” (Hollywood for example) and cliques in our society that determine who and how others are represented and treated. My mission is to create spaces for human connectivity, for people to come together through storytelling and film; have everyday people tell their story on the “big screen” in their own communities and see films that are relatable to their own experiences. The big screen can be any space where we can tell a story: an open-air area surrounded by agricultural fields in the Coachella Valley, a school in Moreno Valley or a museum in Riverside. And now, the pandemic has us exploring a “digital big screen”, the online storytelling where youth from Tlaxiaco, Oaxaca, are able to have a global experience by sharing their story with students from around the world.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
What sets Cinema Culturas apart is that our focus is community, everyday people and youth doing extraordinary things in a geographical region that is often disregarded and underestimated. There are so many great stories that have not been told and vast number of community space where they need to be told. A plethora of stories exist left untold in the vast spaces between the edges of Los Angeles to the Coachella Valley and Blythe, where my mother was a farmworker. Stories of the youth who will occupy our future and the farmworkers who maintain our present are screened in museums, schools, universities, and movie theaters throughout the Inland Empire. Making these stories and films addressing themes relevant to the communities in this area accessible to the very people who experience it is a unique opportunity.
Leaving part of my family and friends behind at an early age to come to the U.S. made me feel like Ofelia, Guillermo del Toro’s protagonist in “Pan’s Labyrinth”, in which you must adapt in a whole different world in order to move forward.
This transition was challenging, but building Cinema Culturas has been the most challenging experience up to now.
I am a romantic. I see life through a romantic lens. This approach has propel creativity and the “ganas” (desire) in order to overcome challenges and create beautiful things for others and not only for myself.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We would start with an exploration of UCR Botanic Gardens, 40 hilly acres and miles of scenic trails. Of course, we would be hungry after this adventure. We would have a delicious lunch of tacos with nopales at El Trigo restaurant in Casa Blanca neighborhood. Since I love merienda (tea time), we would stop for a cup of coffee and dessert to enjoy it al fresco in one of the many beautiful places in downtown Riverside.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The people we have met in the past 9 years who shared their story and felt special, like they shared with us, attending our film festival reception and various screenings throughout the year. I would like to especially thank the retired Coachella Valley farmworkers who shared their inspirational stories with Cinema Culturas and the children and youth who participate in Cinema Culturas Annual International Storytelling, Film & Music Student Competition
Credits should go to Cinema Culturas. We own the rights. Thank you.