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Announcement :: Human Rights
Hollywood Comes to the Tampa Bay Area and Instill Some Movie Magic,Courtesy of Youth for Human Rights
29 Apr 2013
Modified: 09:34:29 PM
ST. PETERSBURG, FL: Los Angeles-based Filmmaker Isa Totah and actress Veronica Milagros were two of the celebrities that graced the red carpet at the 8th annual Sunscreen Film Festival, held at the Shops of St. Pete’s Muvico last weekend. Totah and Milagros came to the Tampa Bay area to participate in some of the industry workshops that the festival has become famous for, but they came away with a lot more.
ST. PETERSBURG, FL: Los Angeles-based Filmmaker Isa Totah and actress Veronica Milagros were two of the celebrities that graced the red carpet at the 8th annual Sunscreen Film Festival, held at the Shops of St. Pete’s Muvico last weekend. Totah and Milagros came to the Tampa Bay area to participate in some of the industry workshops that the festival has become famous for, but they came away with a lot more.

Milagros, originally from Argentina, came into the entertainment industry through her work in theater and then classical ballet. After studying under a full scholarship with the Joffrey School and Company in New York, she was encouraged to go to Hollywood. Milagros has been seen in roles on TV’s Jake in Progress, Nip/Tuck and The Unit.

On the big screen, Milagros has been seen in several films, including “The Gundown” with Peter Coyote and is in pre-production on two feature films.

Milagros attended the festival to share her knowledge of the industry and how to overcome some of the challenges that women in Hollywood face today.

“The festival was amazing,” said Milagros in an interview from Los Angeles. “The entire staff and the attendees were so warm and caring - the entire time it felt like a celebration of art and it was wonderful to be in an environment where everyone was there to support and to learn.”

Milagros emphasized in her acting workshops that those wanting to be actors need to practice their art, and really work on it. At one point, she equated being an actress to being an athlete.

“You don’t go in and win the Superbowl by sitting on the couch, you have to train and practicing your art as an actor is the same thing,” she said.

She also encouraged actors to be persistent in achieving their goals, telling the crowd at Muvico, “It is very easy to give up 5 minutes in Hollywood, but if you embrace your art and connect with other artist that are active in perfecting their craft, it makes a huge difference.”

Having honed his acting and writing skills with the famous San Francisco Mime Troop and under the tutelage of renowned director and acting teacher Milton Katselas of the Beverly Hills Playhouse, Totah has continually worked in the performing arts, acting, writing and directing. Totah has had roles on shows as diverse as Married With Children to the HBO Mini-Series From the Earth to the Moon.

Totah has also been producing and directing films, and it was with this emphasis that he participated in the festival.

“I've been to many festivals, big and small, and I really liked Sunscreen,” said Totah, also in Los Angeles. “With regards to spirit, Sunscreen ranks up there with the best of them. I genuinely believe that the people putting the festival together are motivated by a love of film and a desire to pass along knowledge to help new and old filmmakers get their art accomplished! I had great time and would be honored to participate again.”

Totah said that he likes to give back adding “I enjoyed sitting in on several of the workshops and imparting the idea that all the roadblocks to success need not be focused on... rather the filmmaker’s focus should be on the creativity and doingness of their projects.”

“It was very inspiring to see so many amazing filmmakers and ideas floating around -- there is so much creativity out there. Funneled in the right direction, I can imagine a renaissance of filmmaking on the horizon,” Totah said.

Both Milagros and Totah were inspired by what they saw in the other filmmakers, actors, directors and writers at the festival.

“Seeing all of these artists create films with little or no money reminded me that anything can be done. One filmmaker made a feature in 8 1/2 days -- that's incredible! All the ‘rules’ out there are only considerations, and the festival was a great place to see accomplishments despite the ‘rules,” said Totah.

Milagros commented that she was also inspired by the workshops and the interaction with other actors and filmmakers at the festival.

Appearing alongside Milagros and Totah at the festival were actors Martin Kove (Karate Kid, Rambo 2), Jason Matthew Smith (Star Trek), Matthew Ziff (Treachery), Jennifer Blanc (The Victim), Josh Adler (New Wave Entertainment) and Marty Poole (Fairway Film Distribution).

Both Milagros and Totah’s appearances were sponsored in part by Youth for Human Rights, (YHR), an international human rights education program that teaches young people what their basic rights are, as written in the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Church of Scientology, of which Totah and Milagros are members, is the largest supporter of this program internationally.

“Philosopher and humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard once said that ‘Human rights must be made a fact, not an idealistic dream.’ He felt that the United Nations came up with a great solution to achieving that goal – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said Totah.

“I think YHR is a brilliant program,’ said Totah. “It's taking a document that has essentially been ignored and puts it into the hands of everyone. As an artist, this document is something that we can take and use at an aesthetic level. Just look at what someone like director Taron Lexon did by bringing each one of these human rights into the form of a public service announcement. It’s brilliant and it gets this great message out. I think it is a document that could give impetus to filmmakers to make films that highlight the different rights – I think I may give that a try.”

Milagros also has an interest in seeing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights made more real through art.

“I remember when I watched Platoon,” said Milagros. “I left that theater knowing with 100% certainty that I did not agree with war. It made me think twice about the consequences and it created in me a sense of duty, as an artist, to bring peace and understanding to this world.”

She concluded, “I always felt that we the ARTISTS are soldiers. We don't fight with bombs; we come in with cameras and crews, scripts and actors and create the biggest weapon ...art. Having and knowing our human rights is essential for this to happen.”

Both Milagros and Totah look forward to making new projects in the coming year, and perhaps returning to the Tampa Bay area to participate in next year’s Sunscreen Film Festival.

For more information about Youth for Human Rights, please go to www.youthforhumanrights.org.

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This work is in the public domain