August 9 2002

The Los Angeles Latino Film Festival Closes With Announcement of the Desi Arnaz Screenwriter’s Competition Winners!

Elia Esparza & Felipe Marino Tie For Coveted 1st Prize

Hollywood, CA — At a star-studded closing gala for the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF), veteran actor Edward James Olmos, festival chairman; Marlene Dermer, Festival Director; and Harrison Reiner, Founding Director of the Desi Arnaz Memorial Scholarship and Latino Writers Workshop, presented the coveted first prize to native San Diegan, Elia Esparza and Felipe Marino from Los Angeles, for their Latino-themed stories which were deemed “the best” for a motion picture of movie of the week.

Representing the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting, Elia Esparza, who tied to win the 2002 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival’s 1st Annual Desi Arnaz Memorial Scholarship Award for Best Story for a Motion Picture or Movie Made for Television for her work on The Ladies of Doheny.

The workshop was an intensive 100-hour experience, compacted into just over two weeks, in which Latino writers representing film schools from across the country—developed stories for motion pictures and telefilms. At workshop’s end, a jury of industry professionals judged the stories. Esparza, representing the UCLA Professional Screenwriter’s Program and Marino from the USC Peter Stark Graduate Film School tied for first place for their stories which were deemed the best among the competition.

Harrison Reiner, a CBS executive who is a story analyst expert for Movies of the Week and Mini-Series and is also a UCLA film school professor, created the writer’s workshop in association with HBO-Latino and the LALIFF festival. Admission to the workshop was highly competitive. “The participants in the workshop are amongst gifted in the United States,” said Harrison. “Elia and Felipe’s stories are incredible and there is no doubt they will make break barriers with their future films.”

Esparza’s story The Ladies of Doheny, is the story of four Latino women friends, women of enormous dignity, pride, and courage—all of whom are maids, housekeepers, and nannies—who meet every day at the same Sunset Boulevard bus stop and share tales of heartbreak and joy—and of their eccentric, self-indulgent, Beverly Hills bosses. It’s like the Latino Joy Luck Club.

Marino’s story Floriana of Potosi, is the story of a 16th Century mining town lost high atop the Andes Mountains in which there lived a beautiful woman alienated and oppressed simply because she was born of two races.

Esparza, who also has a novel coming out later this year, said that after 9-11 she decided not to wait on her one dream still not accomplished. “I wanted to get into film school. Writing for film and television is what God put me on earth to do... so what was I waiting for? 9-11 shook my foundation to the core. Like so many, I had been in the twin towers and eaten at the Windows restaurant. Being inquisitive as I am, I met some of the waiters and busboys an Latino chefs. To think that in one split second their dreams were destroyed by hate, truly got to my soul. I made the decision that it was now or never for me. I am so honored and privileged to have an opportunity to present stories I believe are worthy of being shared on the big screen,” she said.

The two winners who tied for first place will share in the $50,000 prize and an unprecedented opportunity to have their stories developed into films.

To participate in next year’s Desi Arnaz Memorial Scholarship and Writer’s Workshop, contact harrison Reiner at

Return to the Frontpage