This is a “Romeo and Juliet” story with a little more sazón and no death. Ricky Moreno and Samara Castillo are two Afrolatinos from wealthy households. Ricky grew up in the Miami elite, the heir of the Moreno’s nightclub empire. He is much lighter-skinned than Samara, due to his family’s adherence to the mantra “mejorar la raza”: marry lighter in order to improve the race. Their young love was cruelly ripped apart by his Abuela, who groomed him to take over the family empire. Through her machinations, a rivalry was formed between the Morenos and the Castillos, and the young lovers never had a chance to make amends.

Ten years later, at the grand opening of his new nightclub, Ritmo, Ricky finds himself face-to-face with Samara again. His old feelings flood into his new world, and he risks his family’s legacy and reputation in order to ask her to dance. The hour has come for Ricky’s redemption. Will the prince of Miami nightlife rise to the occasion, or find himself crushed by the weight of his crown?

Director's Statement

When I was 15, I had my first experience with young love. As a Haitian girl with some Cuban roots, I laid my eyes on a white Cuban boy. We started dating and called each other every day. One day, he told me over the phone that he was no longer allowed to date me because his grandmother found out I was Black. I was surprised to hear these words from his mouth -- not because I had never heard this before, but because I was so used to hearing it from my own family: an instruction to marry lighter in Spanish and Creole. The idea that lighter was better was ingrained in our heads, as a way to ‘help’ our future generations. I hadn’t thought I would be on the receiving end of this restriction, but here I was, banned from budding romance because of the color of my skin. This is where RITMO was born.

With this film, I want to display this mindset intertwined within the Afrolatino and Carribean community, rooted in a deep and all-consuming desire to fit into the mold of Eurocentric beauty standards. I want to start an overdue dialogue with the audience about the anti-Blackness that hovers around many households, brown and Black alike, burdening the People of Color who I want to uplift and highlight in my films. Moreover, I want to tell it musically, as song and dance are an immensely important element of Caribbean culture. 

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The Story