Film Review: MISS BALA is a pawn in the games of men

Tanika Goudeau, an editor and director;  Mrinalini D.S., an electrical engineer turned musician and filmmaker; and Annie Yan, a seasoned producer, editor and videographer; met with our host, Stefanie Alleyne to discuss the nuances of the riveting film, Miss Bala, at the contemporary restaurant and bar, East of Eighth in Chelsea, New York.

Co-written by Mauricio Katz and Gerardo Naranjo, who also directed it, Miss Bala (Miss Bullet in English translation) gives a gritty, visual portrayal of living life amidst the brutal Mexican drug cartels along our southern borders through the eyes of an aspiring beauty contestant. The script is loosely based on the real life events of Mexican beauty and model, Laura Zuniga.  Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna who both acted in the film, “Y Tu Mamá También,” are Executive Producers.  It was also selected as Mexico’s official entry for the 2012 Oscar competition for Foreign Film.

Former model Stefanie Sigman is sensational as Miss Bala Laura Guerrero, who is just another young Mexican girl living in Tijuana, Mexico. She dreams like many others of becoming a contestant in the local Miss Baja California beauty pageant. Her destiny takes a harsh detour when she inadvertently finds herself intertwined with the druglord, Lino Valdez, brilliantly played here by Noe Hernandez. While the film does have shades of female exploitation, we get the rare treat to experience the film’s events through the eyes of our protagonist, Laura. Part drama and a whole lot action thriller, its altering pace weaves to and fro. It’s an intense ride south of the border you won’t want to miss.

More About our Fabulous Panel

Mrinalani D.S was born and raised in Chennai, India. Trained in Indian Classical music from the age of five, Mrinalani’s foray into films began with playback singing, a technique popular in Indian cinema, where singers record songs for soundtracks and actors lip-sync them for the camera. Mrinalani has worked with the Academy Award winner musician A.R.Rahman amongst other eminent composers and musicians. This led to an interest in music production.  She studied audio engineering at the SAE Institute.

A socially conscious person, Mrinalani also played the lead in a play aimed at raising awareness about epilepsy amongst the public, which premiered in 2005 on World Epilepsy day and was reviewed by a leading Indian paper. Filmmaking felt like the next natural step and she wrote, directed and produced her first short film ‘Notes of Silence’ (2010) that had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival. It has also played at the New York Indian Film Festival and the Legacy Film festival (Brighton, UK).  It will finally premiere in India at the Jaipur International Film Festival this month. A screenwriting graduate of the New York Film Academy, Mrinalani’s feature script tentatively titled ‘Red Mondays and Turquoise Twos’ was a finalist at the Sundance/Sloan Commissioning Grant and Fellowship 2012.  Mrinalani is currently based in New York and is working on a music video, a short film version of ‘Red Mondays and Turquoise Twos’ and writes film reviews online.

View Mrinalani’s work:

Annie Yan  is yet to be an award-winning independent tv producer and abstract artist. But in her delusions, she equates compliments as Emmys.

Her work tend to be experimental and educational with elements of humor. She is always striving to find an alternative approach to  presenting information or art.

Some of the tv programs she has produced are Trivisual, New Word Order, Two Losers ( a game show ), and Earliest Memories.She has worked with numerous non-profits as a videogapher and editor.

Her abstract sketches are psychedelic, organic, geometric and graffiti like.  Her works have been exibited in the BWAC Gallery, Minerva Gallery, Salvation Army Thrift store, people’s homes, and dumpsters.

She was born in Hong Kong and grew up in New York. She has a BA in History. Much of her early professional training came from the Immigration and Naturalization Service where she has master the art of redundancy.

Annie’s work:

Tanika Goudeau began writing at the age of 12 and has not stopped, storytelling through any medium is her life’s love.” During her academic career at Spelman College, Tanika majored in Sociology with a minor in Writing, in hopes of pursuing a career in the film industry. She obtained her Graduate Degree earning a Master of Science in Digital Imaging and Design at New York University.
She has since worked on various television and film projects including such clients as HBO, CBS, Harley Davidsion, Tide, Steve Madden, and Sesame Street to name a few. Tanika’s accomplishments also include participation in the 2000 New York Independent Film and Video Festival where she was awarded “Most Dramatic Screenplay” for the original manuscript “Love is Stronger than Pride.” She is editor and director of the documentary short, “Today the World has Changed” a reviling and insightful look at Barack Obama’s Presidential victory.  She is in the process of securing funding for her documentary titled “American Education 101,”a look at the exact state of American education with an emphasis on predominantly black public schools in urban and rural areas.

Tanika’s Work:

To find out more about East of Eighth, click here.

Learn more about the film, Miss Bala.








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