GWB’ has ‘cinematic’ home
When Jonathan Ullman moved from the E. 20s to Washington Heights a few years ago, the first thing he noticed was how “cinematic” the neighborhood looked.
“The architecture, the parks, the river,” he says. “And the whole Dominican culture that permeates the neighborhood, their sense of community and family. It all combined to inspire me.”
That inspiration culminated in “GWB,” a film Ullman wrote and directed, which is having its world premiere on Aug. 19 as part of the 12th annual New York International Latino Film Festival, which runs from Aug. 15-21.
Starring Broadway veteran Raúl Esparza (“Company,” “The Homecoming”) and a cast of talented but little-known Latino actors, the movie tells the story of Diego, a restaurant worker (Rayniel Rufino) forced to deal with a vicious drug dealer (Esparza) who believes the younger brother of Diego’s girlfriend has stolen money from him.
Drugs, Latinos, Washington Heights. The basic elements of the film may sound stereotypical, but Ullman insists they’re not.
“The answer is, Diego, he’s not a clichéd character,” says Ullman, who is making his directorial debut. “But in a lot of ways he’s a strong representation of this neighborhood: someone who works hard, an all-around decent guy. I wanted the film to be about this decent guy.”
Shot in streets, parks, apartments and bodegas in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge, “GWB” is also Ullman’s way of showing that Washington Heights is not a crime-ridden ghetto.