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AMORPHOUS NICHE

I was delighted to read that Hollywood is (again) realizing the significance of the Latino moviegoing population (“Hollywood Finally Gets Its Spanish Lesson,” by Amy Wallace, June 28). As someone who presumably will be on the receiving end of all the “niche marketing” to be unleashed in the apparently very near future, let me put in my two centavos worth of advice to the studios.

Beware of marketing experts who speak knowingly of “the Latino market.” You would have to tie me to the rack to define the term “Latino,” and I’ve been one all my life--except during the time I was a Hispanic, but that was in New York, so perhaps it was a different niche.

In that vague “Latinolandia” between the Rio Grande and Tierra del Fuego, a latino is someone from Latin America. Over there, la raza latina is a figure of speech. Over here, by bureaucratic fiat, Latino is a true race, mixing blancos, negros, indios, chinos, japoneses, mulatos and mestizos, Mexicans, Guatemalans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans, Chileans, Peruvians, Costa Ricans, Salvadorans and about 12 other nationalities.

This is politically very convenient, but I trust you get the picture about the marketing difficulties.

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LUIS M. RODRIGUEZ-VILLA

Los Angeles

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Thank you so much for shedding some light on the plight of Latinos in American cinema. I do want to provide a positive aspect to Eric Gutierrez’s commentary “Latinos’ Reality vs. Rhetoric,” in which he quotes Edward James Olmos as saying, “We had some distribution companies come by [to his first Los Angeles International Latino Film Festival], but that’s it.” I was a producer on the film “Tapas,” which premiered at the festival. I had invited distributors to the screening and indeed we were signed by Apollo Cinema for worldwide distribution.

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I just wanted to make sure that these facts are known so that they might encourage other Latino producers to pursue their filmmaking goals. I look forward to further coverage of Latino films and the market in The Times.

KENNETH MARTINES

Los Angeles


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