St. Croix’s award-winning filmmaker Johanna Bermúdez-Ruiz, creator of many impactful documentaries, short films, music videos and other visual projects, will showcase her first fictional drama at a Gala Premiere screening of her short film, “Soléne,” at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 17, at Caribbean Cinemas. The drama delves into an LGBT romance on St. Croix.
This special showing is invite-only due to space limitations. Media are invited to RSVP once invitations go out on May 1. “This beautiful and romantic film is our first fictional film that delves into a love story between two people who are fearless in their love for each other,” Bermúdez-Ruiz said.
It tells the story of an actress who is returning to her Caribbean home on a quest to rekindle her past love with a stand-up paddle female athlete. The film was shot entirely on location on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, and captures the beauty of the island views before the Category 5 hurricanes hit last year.
“We worked with a production crew made up mostly of Virgin Islanders, and we utilized the services of several small businesses. The co-stars of the film are young up-and-coming actresses from St. Croix and Puerto Rico. We are proud that Vanessa Ayala and Natalia Villarejo chose our film as their first, along with seasoned actor Michael Baiamonte,” said Bermúdez-Ruiz.
“Soléne” also features the music of local band Marisol y Los Drunk Dumplins and Latin artist Yako LaPauta.
“The musical score is as beautiful as the film. I’m really proud to have collaborated and worked with all the talented individuals from the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico — without them this work could not have been possible. I am just as humbled for the generous contributions that individuals, small businesses and non-profits, as well as the Department of Tourism, have made towards the making and gala premiere of “Soléne. I am, also, very thankful to the Caribbean Cinemas for supporting local films and hosting this special screening of my short film, “’Soléne.’”
Bermúdez-Ruiz has been invited to submit “Soléne” to American and international film festivals. She currently has been invited to show in Denmark, the Dominican Republic and the United Kingdom.
She is proud to debut her first directorial fictional short film on St. Croix, her native home.
“Besides it being an enriching experience for all who love independent films, I think that it would be uplifting for Virgin Islanders to see how the film captures the beauty of our island, and the love of the characters,” the filmmaker said.
“It also demonstrates that St Croix and the Virgin Islands as a whole are perfectly suited for creating beautiful, cinematic films and at the same time provide work in the local film industry. My intent is to produce high quality film production and create jobs for those living in the U.S.VI.”
Bermúdez-Ruiz has written, directed and produced several award winning documentaries and short films delving into important subjects impacting the lives of Virgin Islanders, Puerto Ricans and those living on the mainland. Bermúdez-Ruiz has been meeting with producers in Puerto Rico, Los Angels and New York to slate her next directorial debut on her feature suspense film. Additionally, she has begun the groundwork to collaborate with Mix Film Festival, Copenhagen, and European Documentary Network to soon launch an International Film Festival on St. Croix. “My mission is to make the Virgin Islands a film hub, where I can produce high quality films, and attract off-island productions companies to produce their films here.”
Bermúdez-Ruiz studied filmmaking at Antioch College in Ohio, where she received her bachelor’s degree. Beginning her film career, she gained first-hand experience in feature film production while working on sets throughout New York City. She worked closely with renowned acting coach, producer, and writer Susan Batson and her son Carl Ford of Susan Batson Studio LLC. She has worked directly with many well-known actors including Luna Lauren Vélez, David Zayas of and Guillermo Diaz.
Her awards and accolades include nominations for Best Female Film Director of Color at the African Diaspora Film Festival, Best Short Documentary (the Pitirre Award) at the San Juan Cinema Festival, Best Short Documentary at the Maffa Film Festival, and Special Jury Mention Award at the Imagination Film Festival.
She is one of the founding members of New York City’s Chapter of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), a member of the International Documentary Association (IDA), and a recent member of European Documentary Network (Denmark), as well as a former Adjunct Professor at Hunter College.
Bermúdez-Ruiz currently resides on St. Croix where her film company, Cane Bay Films LLC, is based.