The Vancouver Latin American Film Festival is thrilled to announce our 2023 Youth Jury. This group of 20 young filmmakers and artistic creators based in BC and Latin America will receive mentorship, watch and debate the six films in competition, attend a deliberation session, and present the Youth Choice Award for Best New Director at the Closing Ceremony on September 17th (either in-person or virtually).

Please make sure to watch the dialogues with the Youth Jury and the filmmakers in the New Directors Competition throughout the festival via the VLAFF Facebook Video Library. Read on to learn more about the Youth Jury members:

Yas Botelho (non-binary) / BRAZIL

Yas Botelho (any pronouns) is a newcomer from Pindorama, the land of the palm trees, also colonially known as Brazil. Yas has lived on Coast Salish lands for over eight years where they have worked in the violence prevention and intervention field supporting survivors of sexualized violence heal. Art plays a major role in Yas’ life as a source of strength and healing, as such Yas is extremely passionate about decolonizing imaginaries through storytelling. 

Yas feels extremely grateful to participate in this year’s Youth Jury! 

Valeria Elizabeth Velásquez Berrú (she/her) / PERU

Valeria Velásquez is an audiovisual communicator from the University of Piura, Perú. Winner of  Economic Incentives to study Documentary at EICTV, Cuba. Her short film When I was 10 years old, was part of the DocsMx selection, winner of the Ojo Móvil IFF and the Made by Women Film Festival.

Tadeo Ríos Dávila (he/him) / ARGENTINA

My name is Tadeo Ríos Dávila. I’m 20 years old, was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I currently attend SFU for Film Studies.

Sebastián Hurtado (he/him) / MEXICO

Originally from Acapulco, Mexico, Sebastián studied Political Science at UNAM before winning a scholarship to study Writing at VFS. His cinephilia began as a teenager and since then he has participated in various local festivals and has taken seminars and courses on film appreciation, criticism and filmmaking.

Paulina Guadalupe Arratia Velarde (they/them) / MEXiCO
Pau Arratia is a non-binary queer filmmaker from Mexico. They hold a B.A. in Communications with a Cinema and Experimental Art minor. With experience in directing, sound design and editing, they champion the ethical storytelling of underrepresented communities. Pau has collaborated with the UNHCR, Girl Up Mexico and Ambulante.

Orlando Mora Cabrera (he/him) / CUBA

Cuban filmmaker, graduated from the University of the Arts, ISA. He studied a Special Program in Documentary Production at NYU – TISCH School of the Arts and his work has been selected for festivals such as Guadalajara, Moscow, Melbourne, DOC NYC, Trinidad and Tobago, among others. He is currently studying at the International Film and TV School of San Antonio de los Baños (EICTV).

Natalie Colón Ortiz (she/they/them) / CUBA

Natalie “Uni” Marie is a boricua decolonial transfeminist filmmaker. She is studying film editing at the Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (EICTV) in Cuba. At the same time, she is working on the development of a documentary film about sex workers in Puerto Rico in collaboration with other latinx filmmakers.

Mirella Reichenbach Livoti (she/her) / BRAZIL

Oi! ¡Hola a todes! My name is Mirella and I am an international student in Vancouver coming from Curitiba, Brazil. I completed my undergraduate studies last year from UBC with a double major in Sociology and Latin American Studies. Currently, I am pursuing a master’s degree in Hispanic Studies and researching the work of contemporary female authors. I decided to join the Youth Jury because I am passionate about fostering community and curious to learn about other Latine experiences through film.

Marlene Rocha (she/her) / MEXICO

Marlene is a Mexican actress who was born in León, Guanajuato, Mexico, She  has a degree in Communication Sciences . She started acting when she was 16 years old in Mexico. She has studied acting at several major institutions such as University of Guanajuato, UNAM in Mexico City,  Studio 105 in Los Angeles, CA and now New Image College.

Manuel Rios Bridoux (he/him) / BOLIVIA

Manuel Rios, a Bolivian aspiring film director, studies at Fundación Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Inspired by diverse cultures, he aims to bring powerful narratives to the big screen. With a vision to elevate Bolivian filmmaking and achieve global recognition, Manuel strives to make his mark as a trailblazing director.

Lyan Riofrio Franco (he/him) / ECUADOR

Ecuadorian audiovisual producer relocated to Buenos Aires to study Audiovisual Arts at the National University of Arts. Completed an exchange semester at Uniacc University in Chile where I produced a short film and a music video. I was part of the production team of the International Documentary Film Festival (FIDBA). I also edited a short film named Epístola and I’m in charge of its distribution. Currently, I’m working on producing my graduation project, a film called Una Flor Dual.

Luis Ernesto Alvarado Quintana (he/him) / EL SALVADOR

Luis Alvarado is a Salvadoran film student. Luis has been producing indie short films since 2015, starting in El Salvador, then moving to Buenos Aires in 2022 to study film direction at the Universidad del Cine. His goal is to tell the stories that only a Salvadoran could tell.

Juana Tenenbaum (she/her) / ARGENTINA

Born in Argentina’s capital city, she studies Image and Sound Design in the University of Buenos Aires (UBA). She is currently a member of Taipei/Film Critic, an independent film magazine and editor. Her interests revolve around photography, film critique and non conventional cinematic narratives.

Juan Daniel Melendrez (he/him) / MEXICO

Daniel Melendrez is a Mexican writer/producer who growing up along the MEX/USA border developed an interest in telling two types of stories: fantastic adventures motivated by inner journeys, finding yourself and healing processes; and, slice of life stories, such as romcoms or coming-of-age dramedies.

José Pablo Amador Nieto (he/him) / MEXICO

I’m José Pablo Amador. I’m 21 years old, born and raised in Guadalajara. I aspire to be a filmmaker some day and be featured in a festival like this one, but until then, I am excited to be part of the viewing audience which is as important as the filmmaking.

Jessica D’ Zamacona (she/her) / MEXICO

Jessica de Zamacona was born on November 10, 2003 in Tabasco, Mexico. She was always surrounded by movies, literally, because her family had a DVD rental place. And perhaps that is why cinema is now her passion. She is currently studying production and cinematography at the Autonomous University of Guadalajara.

Gabriel Ordoñez Cifuentes (he/him) / Colombia

Gabriel Ordoñez Cifuentes, an alumnus from SFU’s Film Production Program, spent the last five years in Vancouver honing his filmmaking skills. Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Gabriel has successfully directed four SFU films and produced and co-directed an international short film between Canada and Colombia. While his primary focus lies in directing, he finds equal passion in cinematography and production. Besides film, he has a passion for music, playing the piano since childhood, and occasionally singing.

Fátima R. Beltrán (non-binary) / BOLIVIA

Fátima R. Beltrán is a visual artist and filmmaker from Bolivia currently living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a Visual Artist, they participated in group exhibits and won the main prize in the SIART Biennial of contemporary art in Bolivia. As filmmaker, their work focuses on memory and hybrid formats.

Ana Jimenez (they/she) / ECUADOR

I am an aspiring writer & director who was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador. My love of filmmaking has always sparked a desire to find ways to represent my culture. Being a part of this jury is a wonderful opportunity to engage with and support the filmmakers of my culture as they make their way up in the industry.

Aldo Melendrez (he/him) / MEXICO

Film director, screenwriter and animator from Baja California, Mexico, now based in Vancouver. His latest film Cochi premiered at festivals in Mexico, South Korea and the United States, receiving the award for Best Border Short Film at the San Diego Latino Film Festival. Currently in pre-production of his new film.

REMEMBER to watch the dialogues with the Youth Jury and the filmmakers from the New Directors Competition throughout the festival (Sept 7-17) via the VLAFF Facebook Video page.