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USA: Film Movement
Cast: Franky G, Leo Minaya, Manuel Cabral, Jessica Morales, Julissa Lopez, Hector Gonzalez, Panchito Gómez, Lou Torres, Yovanna Jose, Casper Martinez, Tiffany Yates, Lavidania Ramirez, Jeff Asencio, Adeal Irizarry, Edwin De Leon, John McGrath, Barbara Resnick, Petra Quinones
Director: Eric Eason
USA: 78 mins
USA Release Date: 13 June 2003 (Limited Release)
Set, and vibrantly photographed, in the Washington Heights section of Manhattan, MANITO is the fictional story of two days in the life of two Latino brothers, Junior and Manny. Employing techniques of 'cinema verite', the film vibrantly captures a neighborhood and the people who live there.
In the 1990's Washington Heights transformed from the crack-cocaine capital to one of the most vibrant Spanish-speaking communities in the USA. As the drug dealers disappeared, their violent legacy continued to cast a shadow over the neighborhood and its residents. Junior Moreno (Franky G.), an ex-convict struggling to get his life back, is a product of that legacy. His brother Manny, (Leo Minaya) the Salutorian of his high school class, embodies the hope for the future of the neighborhood. On the night of his graduation party, Manny faces an ill-fated decision that could change his life forever. Junior tries to prevent his little brother from becoming another casualty of the neighborhood's violent past.
Although it would be a mistake to think of MANITO as an overtly political film, it is truly a document of the Giuliani era in New York City. While pervasive crime in neighborhoods such as Washington Heights may be all but gone, residents continue to live in the shadow of a powerful, often oppressive, police and corrections presence.