By Jack Rico
As you might have heard, Disney purchased Lucasfilm for 4 billion dollars, and with it, the Star Wars and Indiana Jones saga. The big talks to come out of that deal is that Disney is gun-ho on continuing the Star Wars saga, ergo, the seventh chapter of the series. For now Indy is out of the conversation.
With a look into the future of the iconic sci-fi franchise, we pick 10 directors – Hispanic directors – that possess the skill, vision and passion to take it into the next 35 years. By selecting these helmers and cinephiles, we break Hollywood conventions and give rise to a new generation of directors whom most likely grew up wanting to be the new George Lucas, laser-sword fighting like Luke Skywalker, quoting Han Solo, crushing on Princess Leia and fearing Darth Vader.
So without further adieu, we pick the Top 10 Hispanic directors we think can and should helm the new Star Wars trilogy.
10. Nicolas Lopez (Chile)
This young chilean who created a “Star Wars” fight scene in his first feature length comedy, “Promedio Rojo,” and is now in post-production with his first English-language earthquake thriller with Eli Roth and Selena Gomez called “Aftershock,” is just getting his feet wet in Hollywood. We think with a few years of experience and Hollywood wisdom under his belt, he could be a credible consideration to direct one of the three, if not, one of the many chapters Disney has prepared. His love for “Star Wars” is evident in his feature film and it is that type of ardent zeal that can get him a potential meeting with Disney executives.
9. Paco Cabezas (Spain)
Imagine a found footage version of “Star Wars” shot with a handheld camera? That’s exactly what Spaniard director Paco Cabezas would do, stylistically, if he were behind the lens. Cabezas, who will be directing “Mr. Right” written by Max Landis (Chronicle), and who made noise around the film festivals with his sophomore comedic thriller, “Neon Flesh”, believes that a youthful approach to the series, with young Jedis, would give it a more modern and refreshing feel for today’s audience. His knack for visual effects, a gritty tone, and a comedic bite, make him a great candidate to redefine the episodes to a more contemporary time.
8. Nacho Vigalondo (Cantabria, Spain)
With movie titles like “Extraterrestre” and “Los Cronocrímenes” you know that you’re in for a man who loves the sci-fi genre. Spaniard helmer Nacho Vigalondo has the talent to get behind the camera of the “Star Wars” series and bring some thrills and excitement that Lucas himself couldn’t bring in his last three chapters. Known for his sci-fi comedy twists in his Spanish language movies, Vigalondo, like Lucas, is a screenwriter, one who can provide a refreshing and smart take on the vapid Lucas dialogue of old and sure to impress former and new fans of the series.
7. Álex de la Iglesia (Bilbao, Spain)
When someone describes you as a combination between Guillermo del Toro and Peter Jackson you know you are destined for some sort of greatness. Looked at as a potential director for the “Doom” movie adaptation with Arnold Schwarzenegger back in the 90’s, Álex de la Iglesia is considered a Spanish auteur with a dark/comedic/sci-fi sensibility. His first short, “Mirindas Asesinas,” impressed Pedro Almodovar enough to fund his first feature film, ‘Acción Mutante,’ that takes place in the future. Also, one of his last films, “The Last Circus,” possesses complex characters and a visual darkness that can inject substance to a franchise looking for a shot in the arm. The sky is the limit with Iglesia who has the talent to impress Disney executives if given a shot.
6. Robert Rodriguez (Mexican-American)
Rodriguez is an interesting choice for “Star Wars”. He can do almost anything – from kids movies (Shorts), to grisly fare (Sin City, Machete, Planet Terror) to a sci-fi flick (Spy Kids franchise). He’s a master of visual effects on a budget, who loves grit, dark comedy and is known for adding Latino actors to mainstream roles. He would definitely have a Latino Jedi, which might send some fanboys panties in a roar, but then again look at Puerto Rican thespian Jimmy Smits. He played Senator Bail Organa in “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith”. It’d be different and current. The question is whether he wants to do it and if he thinks he can pull it off. It’d be a bit of a stretch for him, but not out of his realm. If he goes with “Latinizing” the franchise, he has to ponder if he wants to deal with the barrage of fan questions for his tinkering with its universe. If he sticks to a Hollywood format and like he did in ‘Sin City,’ he could pull it off and be hailed as a box-office elite director.
5. Ricardo de Montreuil (Lima, Peru)
After directing two Spanish-language feature indie films to mixed reviews, De Montreuil was propelled onto the Hollywood spotlight by a short he directed in 2010 titled “The Raven”. This futuristic sci-fi thriller, about a man who possesses a dangerous telekinetic power, is the stuff of visionary and accomplished directors. The short is so well crafted that 20th Century Fox reportedly had him direct Mexican actor Gael García Bernal in a screen test for the new reboot – “Zorro Reborn” – slated for 2014. The toughest thing to do in the science fiction genre is to be able to combine exceptional storytelling with intricate visual effects, and De Montreuil is blessed with the faculty to do both. Even the great Ridley Scott couldn’t pull it off in this year’s highly anticipated “Prometheus”. If given the chance, De Montreuil could become a tour de force.
4. Fede Alvarez (Montevideo, Uruguay)
Much like de Montreuil, when “Ataque de Pánico!,” a spectacular 4 minute 49 second sci-fi short went viral on youtube in 2009, Hollywood was vociferously asking who had done it. When they found out it was a twenty-something Uruguayan named Fede Alvarez, they fell on their ass. Talent in third world countries always seems to throw Americans off guard since they all think they’re kicking bean cans on sanded sidewalks. The video, showing a national scale robot invasion in Uruguay, immediately caught the eye of Spider-Man director Sam Raimi. He quickly put in a call to meet with Alvarez, and now, he’s filming a re-imagined version of Raimi’s 1981 cult classic “The Evil Dead”. Alvarez, 34, is a rising star with a love for science fiction, CGI, and storytelling. To say he’d be a great option would be an understatement. A sit down with this phenom is a must.
3. Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Canary Islands, Spain)
Juan Carlos Fresnadillo is subtly becoming the guy you go to to remake, re-imagine, reboot or “sequel-ize” your franchise in Hollywood. Evidence of this was in his selection to direct the sequel to “28 Days Later,” “28 Weeks Later,” as well as his directorial attachment to two new science fiction/remake films: 1986’s classic “Highlander” and 1963’s enthralling “X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes”. So why not have him take over the “Star Wars” franchise? He’s already earning the reputation. Fresnadillo is a visual stylist, that combined with his sci-fi passion and aptness to tell a compelling and emotional story, he could transform it into something contemporary and memorable.
2. Guillermo del Toro (Mexico)
One of the most talented, respected and sought-after directors in the game today is Guillermo del Toro, regardless of language or culture. A Del Toro “Star Wars” movie would be just an event in itself. “But isn’t he more of a horror guy?” you might say. He abandoned one of the great adventure/sci-fi prequels in cinema history in “The Hobbit,” and he’s about to embark on “Pacific Rim,” an action adventure sci-fi film that promises to shake the foundation of Hollywood on its head. Del Toro is one of the few directors, Latino or non-Latino, that possesses the versatility to segue from a horror genre to a sci-fi genre without blinking. His almost obsessive immersion in projects and use of Catholicism in his movies, are qualities and traits that Lucas himself would approve of blindly.
1. Alfonso Cuarón (Mexico)
But as brilliant as Guillermo del Toro is, his Mexican friend, director Alfonso Cuarón is our #1 pick to continue the legendary legacy of “Star Wars”. With “Gravity”, a space thriller positioned to be one the most ambitious films ever created and after already breaking barriers by directing one of the most successful franchises in movie history in “Harry Potter: Prisoner of Azkaban,” the “Star Wars” franchise would be lucky to have him steer this ship. Cuarón is the total package. This extremely talented filmmaker is a writer, producer and director, and he does them all at a very high level. His two Oscar nominations for Best Writing can finally amend for the bad writing Lucas delivered in his last three “Star Wars” films. He is obsessive about details, a trait I’m sure fanboys will appreciate, and his daring and creative directorial style is the icing on the cake. What else do you want!?