Film

VOTE FOR ME!

Prior to serving in the New York State Assembly, Denis directed TV commercials and several short films, and wrote eight feature length screenplays.

Denis received a Walter P. Kaitz Cable TV Fellowship, the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Fellowship for his film Hound Dog, and a New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) Fellowship for his screenplay Lenny’s Prayer.

He also wrote and directed the feature Vote For Me! which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Vote For Me!  also won the Best Picture Award at the 2009 Staten Island Film Festival, and a Best Feature Film Award at the 2009 Orlando Hispanic Film Festival.

Vote For Me "The Movie"

Starring Malik Yoba (New York Undercover, Soul Food, Kingpin; Cool Runnings); Chi Chi Salazar (Scarface, Carlito’s Way); Ricardo Barber (The Feast of the Goat); Vote For Me!  is a comedy about a 75-year old Puerto Rican building super who runs for U.S. Congress.

The film was based on Denis’s own experiences in East Harlem.

Many East Harlem residents, musicians, and even local politicians appeared in the film, which “blurred the line between reality and fiction to capture the spectacle of New York politics.” (New York Times)

Vote For Me! screened in over a dozen film festivals in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Puerto Rico, and was well-received by the press.

Vote For Me "The Movie"The New York Times declared it “reminiscent of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing, but with a lighter touch.”

The Boston Globe found it “ebullient... politically charged…mixes quirkiness and cultural poignancy.”

The Daily News called it “a media sensation.”

WNYC Radio announced it as “Hilarious! Very funny, very real…a sobering lesson in American politics.”

Fox TV News appreciated the racial nuances, declaring “Al Sharpton disguised as a female…what a story!”

Vote For Me! also received national coverage from Fox News Channel, National Public Radio, Univision, Telemundo, Hoy, WSKQ-FM, MEGA-FM, WADO-AM, WNYC, VIVA Magazine, El Diario/La Prensa, El Nuevo Dia, Siempre, and other  news outlets.

Vote For Me! was also invited to Harvard University, Brown University, the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, the JFK School of Government, Hunter College, the NYU Graduate School of Journalism, Hampton University, City University of New York (CUNY) Center for Puerto Rican Studies, and the Newark Film Commission.

You may view all of the following…

A trailer of the film:

www.voteforme-themovie.com

Reviews of the film:

http://voteforme-themovie.com/articles/nytimes.pdf

http://voteforme-themovie.com/articles/dailynews.pdf

http://www.boston.com/news/globe/living/articles/2003/10/21/political_themes_abound_in_latino_film_fest/

http://www.voteforme-themovie.com/articles/eldiario.pdf

Cast and crew credits:

www.imdb.com/title/tt0304912/fullcredits

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BIO of Nelson Antonio Denis

“Denis is an indefatigable campaigner, often seen throughout the neighborhood campaigning on the back of a blue bus.”  

       – The New York Times

Nelson Antonio Denis represented East Harlem in the New York State Assembly.Nelson_Denis_and_his_mother_Sarah

He is also an award-winning screenwriter and film director.

He was raised by his grandmother and mother, Sarah Denis.

Sarah arrived from Puerto Rico at age 16, and immediately went to work in the garment center of New York for twenty cents an hour, eight dollars a week.

After 23 years of working and saving, she was able to send her son to Harvard.

PAPER CHASE

Denis graduated from Harvard College and Yale Law School, and was an attorney with the New York firm of Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine.

WAR AGAINST ALL PUERTO RICANS

Denis wrote War Against All Puerto Ricans, a non-fiction book about the Puerto Rican revolution of October 1950. The book documents the gunfights, mass arrests, and secret actions of the CIA and FBI on the island.

It also documents the bombing of two towns in broad daylight – the only time in history that the US ever bombed its own unarmed citizens. 

JOURNALISM

 For several years, Denis was the editorial director of El Diario La Prensa, the largest Spanish-language newspaper in New York City.

While writing for El Diario, Denis published over 300 editorials and received the “Best Editorial Writing” award from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

In addition, Denis published feature articles, book and film reviews, and editorials in the Harvard Political Review, New York Daily News, New York Newsday, and New York Sun.

NEW YORK STATE ASSEMBLYMAN

Denis majored in government at Harvard, and campaigned for Jimmy Carter while at Yale.

In 1996 he won a seat in the New York State Assembly, where he served as a Democrat from 1997 to 2001. He was also a New York State Democratic District Leader from 1995 to 2001.

His campaigns were labor-intensive. There were no high-priced consultants. The press noted that his mother, Sarah, worked 12-hour days on the campaign trail and that Denis was “an indefatigable campaigner, often seen throughout the neighborhood campaigning on the back of a blue bus.”

FIGHTING FOR EAST HARLEM

"Fighting for East Harlem"

In the 1990’s, East Harlem contained over 800 vacant and abandoned buildings. For this reason, when he took office,  Denis fought for economic development projects and construction financing, to rebuild the decaying infrastructure of his neighborhood.

Through his Community Reinvestment Act legislation, public hearings, CRA testimony throughout New York State, and advocacy on the Assembly Banking Committee, Denis persuaded banks to double their lending to home owners and small business persons in East Harlem, the Bronx, and other distressed areas in New York State.

For further information about Denis’s work in East Harlem, see:

www.east-harlem.com/mt/archives/000076.html

THE LATIN KINGS

In 1994, Denis entered into a controversial relationship with the Almighty Latin King  and Queen Nation.

While jogging along the FDR Drive, he ran into a group of 500 Latin Kings, and recruited them into his campaign for the State Assembly. Denis and the Latin Kings cleaned up several parks in East Harlem,  and attended community board meetings together.

Denis also pledged that, if he won, he would help the Latin Kings to create a community based non-profit corporation, a leadership training course, and a construction apprenticeship program to rehabilitate roughly 800 abandoned buildings in East Harlem. Denis maintained that “the Kings are the product of 20 years of neglect…these are the youth that Reagan forgot,” but others did not agree. His opponent, the incumbent Assemblyman Angel Del Toro, said “they’re gangsters and a threat.”

Another early skeptic was Denis’s own mother, Sarah Denis. She laid down rules that included no beepers or babies in the office, but she gradually learned to work with them.

Despite this controversy, the New York Times endorsed Denis for the State Assembly  that year.

VOTE FOR ME!

Prior to serving in the New York State Assembly, Denis directed TV commercials and several short films. Later, he wrote and directed the feature film Vote For Me! based on his own political experiences in East Harlem.

Many East Harlem residents, musicians, and even local politicians appeared in the film, which “blurred the line between reality and fiction to capture the spectacle of New York politics.” (New York Times)

Vote For Me! screened in over a dozen film festivals in New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Puerto Rico. It won several awards, sold out in every venue, and received nationwide news coverage.

For more information about the film see: www.voteforme-themovie.com

WRITING

Over the past 30 years Denis completed three novels, eight feature-length screenplays, and several plays and one-acts.Nelson Running

He continues to write newspaper editorials, both in English and Spanish.

He also teaches writing through various college, theatre, and literary arts programs in New York City.

As Hemingway sharpened twenty pencils, and Wilde applied glue to his chair, Denis has his own writing routine. He runs several miles every day, yelling out ideas as they come to him. Then he sits down to write.

Denis is especially interested in the history and culture of Puerto Rico.

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