When was the last time you watched a teen angst black comedy where the protagonist is a bi-racial teen coming of age in Austin? Answer: never. That’s what makes Blacktino, one of the feature flicks from this year’s New York International Latino Film Festival, the most unique independent comedy of the year. It’s no wonder filmmaker Aaron Burns won “Best Director” at this year’s festivities for this flick. In terms of realism, it will definitely remind you of the most awkward time of your teenage years—high school!
Stefan Daily (Austin Marshall) may be the most socially inept teen in Texas. His parents divorced and left him to be raised by his grandmother. He falls head over heels for girls that don’t know he exists. Meanwhile, his best friend Laura (Devyn Ray) is his defender against the cool kids when they pick on him. Yet Stefan doesn’t see the feelings she has for him. Stefan isn’t easy to like. He’s smart, but is an underachiever academically. He has moments of charm, but tries too hard to be accepted by cliques. He also alienates himself from his parents and friends. He never even shows any emotion when the only person that has ever cared for him—his grandmother—dies unexpectedly. Does Stefan sound like someone you knew in high school? You, perhaps?
Blacktino, heavily inspired by John Hughes ’80s comedies, is a character study of watching a teen during the most tumultuous time of his life dealing with such a massive adversity most adults would have trouble coping with, all while facing the rigors of growing up biracial. Blacktino is about celebrating your individuality and believing in yourself, but knowing that having people who do care makes dealing with life’s difficulties much easier. In the end, Stefan learns to believe in himself and no longer feels the need to be accepted by everyone—just to those who matter most to him. But make no mistake, Blacktino will also have you roaring with laughter.