Kristal is a freelance reporter and film critic focused on film & TV, Latinidad and LGBTQIA+ content.

  • Latinidad and LGBTQIA+ identity
  • Narrative and documentary film reviews and criticism
  • Film festival coverage
  • Film playlists and watchlists
  • Behind-the-lens interviews
  • Tips and tricks for emerging filmmakers
  • Investigative reports (exp. insight into the film festival industry, issues effecting Philadelphia residents, etc)
  • Op-eds
  • Lenfest Institute for Journalism Constellation News Leadership Initiative
  • 2x Awardee of the Sundance Film Institute Press Inclusion Initiative
  • Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) Media Inclusion Initiative
  • NBC University Visual Storytelling During Breaking News
  • International Documentary Association (IDA) Magazine Editorial Fellowship
  • Lenfest Institute For Journalism Next Generation Fund
  • AARP Freelance Fellowship at NLGJA | The Association of LGBTQ Journalists
  • Public Radio Exchange (PRX) Podcasting for Journalists Intensive
  • Editor in Chief, cinéSPEAK Journal
  • Co-Founder & Journalist, ¡Presente! Media
  • Documentary Magazine
  • cinéSPEAK
  • ¡Presente! Media
  • WHYY
  • Autostraddle
  • AL DÍA
  • ITVS
  • Independent Lens Blog
  • The Points Guy
  • Modern Brown Girl
  • GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics
  • National Association of Hispanic Journalists
  • TIME’S UP Critical Database
  • NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists
  • Solutions Journalism Network
  • CherryPicks Approved Critic
  • Proficient in Spanish and English

Featured Writing

Four Ways To Be A Better Trans Ally in your Documentary Filmmaking – IDA Blog

Strong, meaningful allyship is one of the most powerful tools we have to change our industry for the better. Over the last few months, an important discussion has been brought back into the mainstream about what industry leaders and filmmakers can do to support Trans folks. Read More

Celebrating the 2022 Velocity Fund Grantees – cinéSPEAK

The Velocity Fund, which is administered by Philadelphia Contemporary, distributes $60,000 in grants each cycle to support Philadelphia-based artists. The fund has a particular focus on experimental, collaborative, and interdisciplinary practices. Read More

BlackStar Is the North Star for BIPOC Media Artists – ¡Presente! Media

The 11th annual BlackStar Film Festival was back at the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Live Arts at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts with a 76-film lineup representing 27 countries. Read More

Healing Through Collaborative Filmmaking: An Interview with the Director of Fruits of Labor – cinéSPEAK

In the documentary Fruits of Labor, directed by Emily Cohen Ibañez, the Colombian American filmmaker forms a unique relationship with high school senior Ashley Solis to explore the coming-of-age story of a second-generation Mexican American teen. Read More

Undocumented but Unstoppable: The Undocumented Filmmakers Collective – Documentary Magazine

The Undocumented Filmmakers Collective aims to be a revolutionary space within the documentary field and beyond that envisions a future with fewer barriers to entry and a long-lasting career in film. Read More

Filmmakers Show How Hard it Is to Make Change in Epic “Philly D.A.” Docuseries – ITVS

The eight-part docuseries Philly D.A., directed by Ted Passon and Yoni Brook and produced by Nicole Salazar, takes a look at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office through the lens of D.A. Larry Krasner and his staff alongside a constellation of residents and activists. Read More

The documentary ‘40 Years a Prisoner’ reveals the story of one man’s fight for justice and details the history of police violence in Philadelphia – ¡Presente! Media

Born in the Philadelphia House of Corrections just one month after his parents’ sentencing in 1978, Mike Africa Jr. has spent most of his life trying to free them. Read More

From Cocoon to Butterfly: Interview with Alexis Gambis of Son of Monarchs – cinéSPEAK

In the film Son of Monarchs, director Alexis Gambis weaves together the cultural significance of monarchs with the story of a Mexican biologist named Mendel (played by Tenoch Huerta Mejía). Read More

Philadelphia Has a Long History of Fights Over Criminal – Independent Lens

In order to understand the rich history of criminal reform work, up through the vivid stories of crime and punishment presented in the docuseries Philly D.A., it is important to recognize Philadelphia’s origin story, as it were. Read More

Sundance and TIFF Press Inclusion Initiatives: Reflections from an Awardee – Documentary Magazine

While I am thankful for the continued support, the Sundance Press Inclusion Initiative has proven to be a vital, albeit flawed, program for underrepresented film critics to cover the Sundance Film Festival. Read More

Rita Moreno Off-Screen: An Interview with the Puerto Rican Women Behind the Intimate Documentary – cinéSPEAK

The American Masters documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It paints a detailed picture of icon Rita Moreno’s background, challenges and successes. Read More

Here’s How “76 Days” Director Hao Wu Documented the COVID-19 Pandemic at its Epicenter Wuhan – Free the Work

From within one of the most overwhelmed hospitals in Wuhan, China, Hao Wu and his team captured the realities of the pandemic. Read More

From North Philly Stables to Netflix: An Interview with Director Ricky Staub of Concrete Cowboy – cinéSPEAK

In the film Concrete Cowboy, director Ricky Staub spotlights the Fletcher Street Riders located in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of North Philly. Read More

9 Latinx Films That Debuted At The 2021 Sundance Film Festival That Are Worth Your Attention – Modern Brown Girl

With a rich history of premiering excellent Latinx cinema, here are our top five films Latinx films from the 2021 Sundance Film Festival to watch out for. Read More

Revolutionizing Representation in Documentary: The Making of ‘Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen’ – Documentary Magazine

In the making of Disclosure, Feder made sure to address issues of representation and diversity both on screen and behind the scenes. Read More

The Vanguard of Bold, Visionary Storytelling: 2021 Sundance Film Festival Wrap-Up – cinéSPEAK

The 2021 Sundance Film Festival took place virtually over seven days from January 28 to February 3 with a full lineup of 141 films and projects available via the Sundance custom-designed online platform. Read More

Pa’ Encima: Documentary Filmmaking En La Isla de Puerto Rico – Documentary Magazine

For filmmakers from Puerto Rico, access to funding is limited due to sovereignty—oftentimes unable to apply for funds in Latin American or the US. Read More

Must Watch Films At DOC NYC – cinéSPEAK

DOC NYC, the country’s largest documentary film festival, is back for its 11th edition from November 11th to 19th. With a line up of 108 feature-length documentaries, it can be difficult to determine which films to watch. Read More

Films to Catch at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival – ¡Presente! Media

The Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival (PAAFF) is one of the city’s premiere destinations for films and storytelling from the Asian diaspora. Read More

Growing Up With “Mucho Mucho Amor”: How Walter Mercado Defined My Life – Autostraddle

Growing up, there was always a magical wizard on primetime Latin American television. Read More

One Night in Miami – ¡Presente! Media

In Regina King’s directorial debut of One Night in Miami, she re-imagines a fictional friendship between Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke. Set in a Miami hotel room in February 1964, the four protagonists meet up to celebrate Clay’s “Heavyweight Championship of the World” win. Read More

“Art Has to Capture the Struggle of Our People”: Lorena Manriquez and Siqueiros – ITVS

Siqueiros: Walls of Passion tells the story of Mexican muralist and visual artist David Alfaro Siqueiros. Read More

The Empire of Images: How ‘Epicentro’ Fails to View Cuba – cinéSPEAK

Much like the satellite images of the world, it fails to view the island. Epicentro is an auteur film that focuses on stringing together half conversations to fulfill the thesis of the filmmaker. Read More

And She Could Be Next’: A New Look At Women of Color in Politics – Documentary Magazine

And She Could Be Next, is a two-part docuseries directed by Grace Lee and Marjan Safinia, follows the campaigns of six women of color running for US public office. Read More

Additional Writing

The Role of Filmmakers in Documenting Global Health Crises – ITVS

Survivors, directed by Banker White, Arthur Pratt, and Anna Fitch, provides an overview of the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone through Pratt’s on-the-ground lens. Read More

Racists Teach Here – WHYY

“I’m not sure you’re capable of taking that class,” said my high school English teacher. My first year of high school, I was placed in the advanced courses in science and math but not in English. Read More

Charm City Kings: Una oda de los Boricuas a Baltimore – AL DÍA

Charm City Kings, dirigida por Angel Manuel Soto, sigue al joven Mouse mientras lucha por procesar la reciente muerte de su hermano Stro. Read More

Conozca a los creadores de la película producida con Mucho Mucho Amor – AL DÍA

Los directores y productores de este impactante documental sobre el astrólogo puertorriqueño y el ícono cultural Walter Mercado se sentaron para una entrevista en enero. Read More

TIFF 2020 | One Night in Miami – ¡Presente! Media

In Regina King’s directorial debut of One Night in Miami, she re-imagines a fictional friendship between Cassius Clay, Malcolm X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke. Read More

6 Gems From the 2020 Sundance Film Festival – Submittable

With so many films, here are a handful of gems from the 2020 Sundance Film Festival to watch out for. Read More

The real-life romance of Iván and Gerardo on the silver screen – AL DÍA

A hybrid narrative-documentary film, Te llevo conmigo details the real life love story of Iván and Gerardo from Mexico to the U.S. Read More

TIFF 2020 | New Order – ¡Presente! Media

New Order (Nuevo Orden) by Mexican director Michel Franco is a suspenseful dystopian film that depicts the frustration of the widening wealth gap. Read More

Peruvian American Entrepreneur Starts Environmentally-Conscious Business Treecup Tea – ¡Presente! Media

¡Presente! Media spoke with Founder and CEO Mark Sotomayor, who is of Peruvian descent about the crowdfunding campaign he is currently working on and about revolutionizing the way consumer products affect our environment. Read More

5 Must-See Latinx Films From The Sundance Film Festival – Modern Brown Girl

With so much Latinx representation at Sundance, what films should we look out for this year? Read More

Park City is more than just epic ski vacations — here’s why – The Points Guy

From the beauty of the great outdoors to the glamour of the Sundance Film Festival, the city offers a wide range of activities all winter and summer long. Read More

Must Watch Films At DOC NYC – cinéSPEAK

With a line up of 108 feature-length documentaries, it can be difficult to determine which films to watch. Here is a list of a few must-watch films from the DOC NYC program. Read More

The Arts in Philadelphia Are Not ‘Restored’ – ¡Presente! Media

Over the past few weeks, Philadelphians have been protesting police brutality and the end of dire cultural and arts programs. Read More

Filmmaking After Film School – Submittable

Congratulations on that nice, shiny film school diploma. Now what? Read More

El agente topo: La historia del espía que se infiltra en un asilo de ancianos – AL DÍA

El agente topo es un documental de cine negro sobre el agente secreto anciano que va de incógnito en una de las residencias para mayores de Chile. Read More

TIFF 2020 | The Boy from Medellín – ¡Presente! Media

J Balvin has been able to cross over to non-Spanish speaking markets which is a huge feat for Latin American artists, gaining him the title “Prince of Reggaeton.” Read More

La Leyenda Negra: Una búsqueda de la verdad en Compton – AL DÍA

La película está inspirada en la vida de jóvenes inmigrantes de la Preparatoria de Compton, en Los Ángeles. Read More

TIFF 2020 | Enemies of the State – ¡Presente! Media

Enemies of the State, combines Kennebeck’s investigative reporting background with a cinematic visual style reminiscent of that of executive producer Errol Morris. Read More

Meet The Creators of the Film Produced with ‘Mucho Mucho Amor’ – AL DÍA

Everyday, Walter Mercado would grace the screens of Latinx homes across the globe. Mucho Mucho Amor traces Mercado’s legacy and documents his final moments. Read More

El Agente Topo: The Story of the Elderly Spy That Infiltrates a Retirement Home – AL DÍA

Alberdi brings film noir stylizations to documentary filmmaking, using sharp shadow contrasts from windows, casting the iconic noir visual effect. Read More

The One-Child Policy Legacy on Women and Relationships in China – ITVS

The One-Child Policy was introduced to China in 1979 and ended in 2015. The films One Child Nation and Leftover Women both reflect and examine the policy and its legacy. Read More

TOP 6 at TIFF 2020 – cinéSPEAK

While the experience of the film festival has shifted, the quality of the films this year is better than ever. Read More

“Art Has to Capture the Struggle of Our People”: Lorena Manriquez and Siqueiros – ITVS

Siqueiros: Walls of Passion directed by Lorena Manríquez, and co-directed by Miguel Picker tells the story of Mexican muralist and visual artist David Alfaro Siqueiros. Read More

Films to Catch at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival – ¡Presente! Media

With over 80 films to watch at PAAFF, we are sharing three films from the program that are available to audiences in the United States and Canada. Read More

4 Ways to Continue Supporting Your Passion for Film  – Submittable

How can anyone balance paying rent with continuing to support a passion for filmmaking? Read More

Las artes en Filadelfia no son ‘restauradas’ – ¡Presente! Media

En las últimas semanas, los residentes de Filadelfia han estado protestando contra la brutalidad policial y el final de importantes programas culturales y artísticos. Read More

Visualizing the Modern Digital Age – ITVS

In People’s Republic of Desire, director Hao Wu documents China’s live-streaming community, one akin to YouTube’s cult-like culture. Read More

From Fashion to Food and Beyond: Billy Luther Brings Native Stories to the Forefront – ITVS

Filmmaker and producer Billy Luther’s alter-NATIVE series follows Native American designer Bethany Yellowtail as her fashion career evolves. Read More

El romance de la vida real de Iván y Gerardo en la pantalla grande – AL DÍA

Una película híbrida de narrativa-documental, Te llevo conmigo, detalla la historia de amor de la vida real de Iván y Gerardo desde México a los Estados Unidos. Read More

Charm City Kings: Una oda de los Boricuas a Baltimore – AL DÍA

Puerto Rican Filmmaker Angel Manuel Soto brings inspirations from the island to Baltimore film Charm City Kings. Read More

5 Tips for Press Attending the Sundance Film Festival – Submittable

For those lucky enough to obtain credentials, here are five tips for press attending the Sundance Film Festival. Read More

La Leyenda Negra: A Latinx coming-of-age story – AL DÍA

The film, directed by Patricia Vidal Delgado, was inspired by the real-life experiences of immigrant youth at Compton High School in Los Angeles. Read More

TIFF 2020: A Suitable Boy – ¡Presente! Media

A Suitable Boy directed by Mira Nair is set in 1950s India after the country’s independence, transition to democracy, and the partition of India and Pakistan. Read More

PHLAFF Films Available on Xfinity On Demand Latino – ¡Presente! Media

This Hispanic Heritage Month, a selection of ten films from the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival (PHLAFF) are available on Xfinity On Demand Latino destination on X1 until the end of October. Read More

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