HBO and the New York International Latino Film Festival (NYILFF) today announced that THE ACTING LESSON,
an original screenplay by Carmen Peláez
, has been chosen as the 2012 winner of the HBO/NYILFF Short Film Competition. The screenplay tells the story of Emily, a rising starlet who interviews her director's maid Pepa, claiming that she is doing research for her next big movie role. But when the questions get personal, Pepa is forced to delve deep into her own history, erasing the line between telenovela and real life.
In addition to receiving the $15,000 grand prize, an HBO creative executive will serve as a mentor to Peláez and consult during the production of the winning script to film. The short, which is being shot in the Miami area and co-directed by Peláez and Nicholas Calzada, will be exhibited during screenings at the New York International Film Festival, August 13-19, In New York City.
"I've wanted to jump into film work for a while now but couldn't imagine where to begin," said Peláez. "I'm thrilled that the NYILFF and everybody at HBO have given me this opportunity and I can't wait to cannonball into the most creative pool of people working today."
A graduate of the American Academy for the Dramatic Arts in New York City, Peláez received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for her solo play, Rum & Coke, which she's performed in Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and off-Broadway in New York City. Featured by Ted Koppel on a NIGHTLINEFriday Night Special along with her family, she became the first PS-NBC performer to sign a talent contract with the network and was a contributor on the Nightline/PBS co-production Life 360. Peláez has been featured in several independent films including A Very Serious Person by Charles Busch. Her collaboration with Pablo Cano in City Beneath the Sea, a play for marionettes, premiered at MOCA in Miami and was part of Art Basel in 2006. Her second collaboration with Cano, The Seven Wonders of the Modern World, also played at MOCA in 2011. Most recently she completed her second play Fake and was cast in Steven Soderbegh's upcoming film A Bitter Pill. Currently, Peláez is developing a series of one-act plays called Loteria and her bilingual web series Julia.