Juan Frausto’s HD immigration feature, shot in Florida-for-Mexico debuts at Latino Film Fest

Juan Frausto’s fourth feature, the immigration drama “La Migra,” has its world premiere April 8 at the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

“La Migra” (Mexican slang for the Border Patrol) will be released on DVD this year from urban specialty distributor Maverick Entertainment of Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Maverick hired Frausto to direct “La Migra” after it picked up his gang actioner “Once Upon a Time in the Hood,” which screened at last year’s Chicago Latino Film Fest. Maverick released the picture on video July 7. It’s now on pay-per-view and should land on HBO Latino in a few months.

“La Migra” director Juan Frausto

The “La Migra” screenplay, by L.A.-based Lisa Henthorn, centers on a Mexican-American attorney in Phoenix defending a Border Patrol agent on charges of murdering a border crosser, even as member’s of the attorney’s own family are entering the U.S. illegally.

“I related to the story because of some of the things that members of my family went through while crossing the border,” said Frausto, a Mexican native who grew up in Little Village.

Next up for Frausto?a vampire hip-hop comedy

Juan Frausto starts shooting his first comedy in May, the hip-hop vampire flick “Get Pony.” Frausto reunites with Miami actress Siboney Lo in a co-production between his Orta-Mex Films and her Voila Productions.

Also producing is Manuel Scribe of Milwaukee hip-hop group Quinto Sol. They’re raising the under-$100,000 budget from private investors.

Pony Boy of local hip hop act Los Marijuanos stars as a guy who gets out of jail and returns to the hood only to find his friends disappearing at the hands of bloodthirsty prostitutes. Frausto directed the hit video for Quinto Sol’s “Ella se Fue,” as well as videos for Los Marijuanos.

Scribe and Lo co-star. “Get Pony” will also feature appearances and music by Chingo Bling of Texas and Diablo from L.A.

Kevin Pittman is shooting “Get Pony” on Super 16mm. Pittman shot Jaime Marsical’s 2004 debut, “Welcome Back to the Barrio,” which Frausto co-produced.

Longtime Chicago DP Gennadi Balitski, now based in Los Angeles, shot in HD over 15 days in March 2004, mostly in Florida with additional photography in Phoenix. “Parts of Florida were made to look just like Mexico,” Frausto said. “It was surprising ? you won’t be able to tell the difference.”

The picture stars Alpha Acosta, Gabriel Traversari, Salvador Pineda, Francisco Gatorno and Siboney Lo, and Chicagoans Christina DeLeon, Laura Lopez, North Roberts, and Frausto’s sister Rosa Frausto.

“We flew in actors from Mexico that I grew up watching on TV when I was younger,” Frausto said. “I never thought I’d get the chance to work with them.”

Frausto’s previous film “Drive By” was released on video by Artisan and screened on HBO Latino. His first film, “Change,” which he calls the first Chicago Latino feature, debuted at the Latino Film Fest in 1994.

“La Migra” screens Friday, April 8 at 7 p.m., and Thursday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m., at Landmark’s Century Center, 2828 N. Clark.

Frausto’s Orta-Mex Films is at 3939 W. 56th St. Call 773/835-0390 or e-mail ortamexfilms@hotmail.com.