Often when we share what films we’ve reviewed and seen it requires VL readers to dish out some money to get to the theater or wait to rent (or find other ways) to see the film. This is the first time we are reviewing media that is FREE, that you can interact with online and whenever you have access.
East WillyB is a Latino centric web series created by Latinos, produced by Latinos, and casting Latinos. Created over coffee in Brooklny, creators Julia Ahamuda Grob and Yamin Sagel sat down and discussed what they wanted to create, who they wanted to reach, an what messages they wanted to send. Reaching the “new generation of Latinos” who are wired and plugged in, educated, and tired of one-dimensional stereotypes in the media was their focus. They began working on the scripts and character development and created East WillyB. This is a series that will be featured on the web and have various webisodes uploaded each week (so you don’t have to wait a full 7 days to get the next episode!). Each webisode is less than 5 minutes and has a multiplatform appraoch (i.e. animation, comedy, drama, etc.).
The synopsis for the series from the site reads:
Rent’s going up, hipsters moving in, but where there’s a Willy (Flaco Navaja), there’s a way! For years “Willy Jr.’s Sports Bar” has been the hot spot on Broadway where you could grab a drink, catch the latest gossip, and bitch about the Mets, but now Willy Jr. may be forced to close. Along with his friends, Willy Jr. designs a plan to keep “Willy Jr.’s” away from his scheming Ex, bring the barrio back in, and restore the bar to its former glory.
Yet, East WillyB is more than just the synopsis. It discusses gentrification, conversations about immigration, and what it means to maintain and build a community. Also included are interviews which features Latino activists in the Bushwick community in a complimentary documentary series called “The Real Bushwick.”
Willy Jr.’s got his work cut out for him. Running Bushwick’s favorite Latino bar isn’t easy when the old timers retire, the new generation forgets their culture, and the hipsters start taking over. As if it couldn’t get worse, Maggie (April Hernandez), Willy Jr.’s ex-fiance, has taken up with Willy Jr.’s arch-nemesis, Albert (Danny Hoch), and is threatening to take over the bar. If Willy Jr. can’t come up with a solution quickly, “Willy Jr.’s Sports Bar” will soon fall victim to the oncoming Yuppie invasion.
EAST WILLYB chronicles the journey of Willy Jr. and his best friend and bartender, Ceci Rivera , as they organize their friends and neighbors to save “Willy Jr.’s Sports Bar”, a mainstay in the community of Bushwick since the 70s. Together with the eccentric characters that line the streets of this urban community, Willy Jr. will find the key to saving his business and ensuring that his bar remains a staple of the Brooklyn landscape for years to come.
Shot on location in Bushwick, Brooklyn, EAST WILLYB takes place along the historic Bushwick and Knickerbocker Aves. It is a story about the many faces that make up the Latino community of Brooklyn, and the ways in which their lives interconnect to create the extended family so integral to its character. So come meet the Telenovela addicts, tamale slingers, salsa fiends, piragua purveyors, bomba players, plastic couch owners, & bodega CEOs that make the community of Bushwick unique.
An amazing cast of of actors include: Flaco Navaja (Fighting, Falling Awake) as Willy Jr. the “King of Bushwick”, Raul Castillo (Nurse Jackie, IFC’s Cold Weather) as Edgar the , Caridad “La Bruja” De La Luz (Bamboozled, Down to the Bone) as Giselle the “Man-Eater” and bar local, Danny Hoch (Black Hawk Down, American Splendor) as Albert “The Whiteboy” who is dating Willy Jr.’s ex-fiance Maggie performed by April Hernandez-Castillo (Dexter, Freedom Writers), along with many of local NYC Latino talent.
Below are the first two episodes of the series. Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss out when new ones are posted! I really enjoyed watching the pilot series and found the stories and characters refreshing, dynamic, complex, and of course hilarious! Grob and Sagel are looking for investors to pick this series up, so if you (or someone you know) wants to support please spread the word. We need to have more representations, more conversations, more images that challenge and affirm our identites as Latinos, as activists, as community members, and as contributing members of this society!
There are various ways to download and access these videos, but since I live an analog life, I really can’t tell you about all the fancy modern technologies but I know they are there! Follow them on Twitter @EastWillyB.
Episode 1: You’ve Been Served
Episode 2: That’s Dirty!