We had the good fortune of connecting with Mahalia / Erik Francisco Latortue / Medina and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mahalia / Erik Francisco, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
As Caribbeans, Erik being Puerto Rican and Mahalia being Haitian-American, we saw little to no representation of our people and our cultures on screen. And when we did, we saw that we were misrepresented with stereotypical representations and foreign assumptions about our cultures. We grew tired of that and our frustration led to the creation of our multifaceted screenwriting label. Baptized with the fearless Taíno cacique name, Anacaona Pictures was born in hopes of creating and curating diverse, untold stories and provide a voice to the voiceless in a marginalized world with accurate representations. As we say, “no stories of us, without us.”
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Both Mahalia and Erik love creating in Atlanta because it is uncharted territory for many filmmakers. Even though Georgia is slowly becoming a production hub for Hollywood, the Caribbean storytellers know that due to the lack of representation in the industry, Atlanta is the perfect city to develop stories by creators of color with creators of color. From coming-of-age stories, sitcoms, and dramatic scripts, the duo continuously pitch scripts to executives while continuing to develop bicoastal projects, and is currently in pre-production for an independent feature film.
One of the many hurdles the duo has confronted is the classic “we don’t have the resources to sponsor/create this project,” meaning that the third parties were unsure if stories with BIPOC characters were leads. Mahalia and Erik got tired of hearing it, so they decided to create their own stories with their own resources. In the last year, the Caribbean duo has curated their path to success by uplifting their own voice and others. They believe that nothing in this world is given and everything is earned.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We both love to take our families to Centennial Park! Visit the Georgia Aquarium, the Coca-Cola Museum, and CNN. For food, Local Green Atlanta, Slutty Vegan, Bell Street, and Las Delicias de la Abuela are our top choices. If we are in the mood for a good hike, Kennesaw Mountain, and if they want to go shopping, Atlantic Station is our favorite spot. For sports fans, a visit to the Mercedes Benz is key, and if they want to go to the countryside of Georgia, we harvest our own strawberries at Southern Bell Farm. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We have many people to recognize who contributed to our journey: our filmmaking colleagues, family, and ancestors who paved the way. Our people in Haiti and Puerto Rico who we strive to make proud. But specifically our dear friend and mentor, Frank Radice. Frank came and lifted us when we were very frustrated with all the closed doors and empty opportunities. To Quinn Orear, who guided us through graduate school and various opportunities. We are grateful for all the mentorships and allyships we have created until this day..
Instagram: @anacaonapictures / @mahalialatortue / @donerikfrancisco
Twitter: @thehalia / @mrnerikfrancisco
Ryan Pak – photographer for studio headshots Derick Medina – BTS Photographer for Set Pictures