Cine Latino: Penelope Cruz in Eye-Catching Calendar (Photos); Zoe Saldana’s Nina Simone Controversy

By on December 1, 2012

Cine Latino covers, well, all things relating to Latino culture and the movies, every Friday.

The only place Penelope Cruz’s face could ever crack a mirror is in the 2013 calendar campaign for Campari Liquor, which highlights such superstitions as broken mirrors, black cats, crows and the like. Only 9,999 copies of the Campari Calendar, known for showcasing A-list stars like Milla Jovovich, will be distributed worldwide.

Here are a few images from the 2013 calendar, called “Kissing Superstition Goodbye.” Click here for all 12 months.

Zoe Saldana as Nina Simone

Plans for an autobiographical film of the legendary jazz singer Nina Simone have been in the works since 2005, but it didn’t get off the ground until recently with writer-director Cynthia Mort (Roseanne, Will & Grace) helming. The title role was originally given to Mary J. Blige but due to scheduling conflicts the R&B diva dropped from the project. When word got out that Afro-Latina Zoe Saldana would be joining the cast, many didn’t think she would be playing the lead role–until photos surfaced last month of Saldana with darker skin and a fake afro ignited fury around the Internet.

Simone’s daughter, Simone Kelly, spoke to the New York Times to express her casting discontent.

“My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark. Appearance-wise this is not the best choice,” she said. Kelly admitted to the Times that she would have rather seen Viola Davis or Kimberly Elise play her mother.

Then Charge.org began a petition against Saldana, asking executive producer Jimmy Iovine and director Mort to replace the actress. Singer-songwriter India Arie vehemently spoke out on her website saying, “YES they should have chosen someone who LOOKS like Nina Simone, ESPECIALLY since her RACE played such a PIVOTAL role in WHO, WHAT and WHY, she was…THAT ASIDE for a second, this just looks WEIRD, it looks like a person in Black(er) face with a fake nose … REALLY?!!!!”

Last year I spoke with Saldana about race in Hollywood and her thoughts on being a role model.

“I always have hope that people will receive well whatever it is that I am a part of,” said Saldana. “I’m an American woman therefore I am equal to anybody and anything, not more and not less. I really hope that I inspire women and not just of a specific demographic, just women, period. [Inspire them] to be more physical and to see themselves in more than in just fragile or nurturing roles.”

Do you think Saldana will make a good Nina Simone despite the controversy?

Hecho en Mexico

I got a chance to attend the Hecho en Mexico premiere with Diego Luna, Los Tucanes de Tijuana, Kinky and many more. The documentary showcases the richness of Mexican music, from traditional to pop rock and rap blended with interviews from Alejandro Fernandez, Lila Downs and many more leading personalities. Here are a few highlights:

What does it mean to be “made in Mexico”?

That’s a difficult question. I guess it doesn’t mean anything else than being born in Mexico or to a Mexican mother or father. It’s no more than that. – Diego Luna

Estar bien hecho! Pues hacer cosas con pasión y dedicación. Hecho en México es un orgullo y lo que esta hecho en México esta bien hecho. – Los Tucanes de Tijuana

Hmmm…it’s totally different from Made in China. [Laughs] – Sergio Arau

What’s your take on the film?

This is a very unorthodox movie, there’s no script or storyboard. I was looking for things that I liked and how I can mix them together to create something out of nothing. I learned to trust the process of life and that I’m not in control, if this film touches your heart then hallelujah. – Duncan Bridgeman, director

I think this film talks about what’s going on in Mexico and the amount of contrast you find there and the complexity of a country that is so diverse. There are many other voices represented in the film as it talks about the relation of our country with its states, Latin America and Europe. – Diego Luna

Aprendimos que ay tantas riquezas que realmente no conocemos, como las corrientes musicales, tanta comidas, bellezas paradisiacas, sobre todo aprendes que en la vida ay que trabajar para vivir bien no para tener mas que los demás. – Los Tucanes de Tijuana

It was really hard to find a title for this film. We went from The Elephant Who Thinks He’s a Dog, Cuando el rio suena es cuango agua lleva, and then Duncan asked his sister what’s the most common thing she’s heard about Mexico and she said, “Made in Mexico” so that was it. – Lynn Fainchtein, producer

It’s amazing how many Mexico’s you can see in this film. The message is that Mexico is a lot more than what you can imagine. – Sergio Arau

What made you say “yes” to this project?

The first idea was to merge with many musical genres and participating in this movie meant being able to mix with Choles, indigenous sounds, Norteños and regional folk music so that was the deciding factor. – Kinky

Hecho en Mexico opens in theaters today.

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Cine Latino: Penelope Cruz in Eye-Catching Calendar (Photos); Zoe Saldana’s Nina Simone Controversy

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