The Initiation Short Film, Audience FEEDBACK from May 2020 LATINO Film Festival

THE INITIATION, 19min., USA, Drama

Directed by Amir Youssef

David a homeless man and a silent narrator follows the tags of a Latino Graffiti Writer named Pedro. Those tags are the only source of light in the homeless man’s empty world.
Pedro shares the same world which is not so bright. In search of protection and fellowship, he is lured to join the notorious Vessel gang lead by his cousin Miguel and must undergo a final vicious initiation ritual. Through the final hours, Pedro is reminded by Jen his one true companion that his art is his protection and fellowship.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!


Cirqueros Short Film, Audience FEEDBACK from May 2020 LATINO Film Festival

CIRQUEROS, 5min., USA, Drama

Directed by Alex Stanton Smith

A group of circus performers rush their injured fellow performer to the local ER where they’re mistaken for gang members.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!


May 2020 – LATINO Feedback Festival – Highlights and Videos



Theme of night: Feeling like an outsider.

NOTE: Festival took place during the COVID-19 virus lockdown so all screenings were held in private.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Videos:

festival posterTHE INITIATION, 19min., USA, Drama

festival posterCIRQUEROS, 5min., USA, Drama

festival poster¡Come! (eat), 12min., USA, Drama

festival posterDAFFODIL, 18min., Hong Kong, Drama

The beginning of a (temporary) new era.

See you at the festivals. Whenever that happens!

– Matthew Toffolo

Director Biography – Lizette Barrera (¡Come! (eat))

Lizette Barrera is a Chicana Filmmaker from Lewisville, Texas. Based in Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin, TX.Her film Mosca (Fly) is in distribution with HBO and her Latest film Chicle (Gum) will be having its World Premiere at SXSW. Winner of Texas Archive of the Moving Image Award (Cine las Americas) and Filmmaker to Watch for (Women Texas Film Festival).Films have shown at Maryland Film Festival, Austin Film Festival, San Diego Latino Festival, Oak Cliff Film Festival, Cine Las Americas Festival, Nalip Org finalist for the Latino Lens Fest & Showcase Shorts Program, DallasVideoFest, AFS Showcase at SXSW, Women Texas Film Festival, Flyway Film Festival, Semi-Finalist Miami Short Film Festival, Semi-Finalist Frame of Mind, Asian Film Festival of Dallas, Longhorn Showcase at SXSW, Hill Country Film Festival, Los Angeles CineFest, and CineFestival.

MFA in Film Production at The University of Texas.
Senior Lecturer at The University of Texas at Arlington.
Represented by Inclusion Managment.

Short Film: ¡Come! (eat), 12min., USA, Drama

Set in Florida, a 12 year old Puerto Rican girl’s perspective changes when she brings a popular dessert dish, Arroz con Leche, to a thanksgiving event at her school and no one eats it.

Project Links


News & Reviews

“Local Short Film Explores Food, Culture and Belonging”LkldNow

“Locally Filmed Movie Produced by FSC Professor”The Ledger

“¡Come! Local Student Produces Movie”Bay News 9 News Feature

Director Biography – Amir Youssef (THE INITIATION)

Growing up in the old city of Cairo in Egypt, Amir was captivated by filmmaking in all its forms and roots, as an artistic tool of expression and fulfillment.

In his teen years Amir immigrated to the United Sates with his parents and younger brother, leaving behind a cultural heritage that he continues to cherish. Starting a new chapter in California his new home, he studied and practiced electrical engineering in the field of Renewable Energy. Simultaneously, he persevered through self-education to learn the craft of filmmaking and in 2019 he wrapped up his first short film ‘The Initiation’ which will premiere in 2020.Director Statement

Roaming the colorful streets of Oakland in California, I am constantly nudged by its many contrasts. You can obviously see extreme wealth in privileged neighborhoods, whilst the other side of the fence is smeared with severe poverty and hardship, in neighborhoods mostly inhabited by immigrants and minorities, who are trapped with no other place to flee to.

In this film I wanted to recapture some of the poetic realism styles presented by French Cinema in the 1930’s, to shed some light on environments that establish hateful and unforgiving forces, while neglecting creative outlets and labeling them as distasteful.

We perceive the graffiti portraits through David, a homeless man and a silent narrator. He is the manifestation of a neighborhood abandoned and neglected by society. Through him we encounter Pedro a teenage Latino Graffiti Artist, who is trying to find a voice in life. The narrative examines the limited choices that life had to offer this emerging youngster, in a quarantined community where many youths are in search of identity and fellowship.