Sex, Love & ‘Soulsa’: Adrian Manzano

Success can be measured in many ways, and it means different things to people. I believe that the fundamental and most important elements to become successful are to do things with love, passion, and soul. We can easily detect those people who have these qualities, and it shows in their work. Adrian Manzano, a writer and director from Queens, New York, has these three key elements that one day will make him a household name.

I met Adrian back in June at an event. We talked for a bit, and he gave me his business card. I meant to reach out to him to discuss a blog post on his independent film, which at the time was called “BQE.” However, time escaped me, and we never touched base. The universe made that call for us, and we ran into each other again three weeks ago at a Por Colombia event.

Since our second encounter, I have witnessed Adrian’s dedication as he promotes his film. Most people are receptive to him, and are willing to help spread the word about the movie. I believe that it has to do with the pride that he shows for his work, and they can’t help but want to spread that love as well. After our interview last Wednesday, I watched Adrian jump into his promoter role by giving out flyers, T-shirts, and successfully got the DJ to promote the movie at a salsa party. That’s the kind of support that he’s getting, and theres this really great energy brewing around this film, and especially Adrian.

Adrian doesn’t have a marketing budget, but the support that I’ve seen him get would make you think otherwise. With the help of friends, family, and his resourcefulness, he made this film with an ultra low budget. He is his own critic, and constantly strives to improve his work. Making this film, and getting it out there has been a huge learning experience for Adrian. This experience will help make it much easier with his next film. With no budget, but with a lot of heart, Adrian has successfully shown his film in cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, DC, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and three boroughs in New York City. The film has received awards from festivals such as CINE+MAS, and the Harlem Film Festival. It has also been nominated for the Queens World Film Festival, and the Chicago Latino Film Festival.

The salsa community seems to be giving Adrian a lot of support. Salsa dancing is huge in New York City, and the moment that I mention this film to a dancer of this genre, they get excited. Raquel De Leon, a salsa loving friend who lives in Baltimore recently travelled to Philadelphia to catch the movie. When I asked her what she thought of it, she said that it’s “very real,” and that she could relate to it. She also bought the DVD, and will watch it again. When I shared this feedback with Adrian, he said that it makes him feel successful to hear that. Adrian is humbled by all of the great reactions that he’s getting from the audience, and feels blessed.

Although Adrian is the lead actor in his own film, he prefers to write and direct. He was surprised at winning the best actor award from the Reel Independent Film Extravaganza. Adrian wasn’t supposed to be in his own film, but his actor didn’t show up because it was a small lead, and so he had to jump right in. He also works on his own posters, flyers, DVDs, editing, business negotiations–you name it. He seems to be multi-talented, and versatile. I believe that these qualities will help take him far.

I find Adrian to be an extremely intelligent person with lots of opinions on different topics. I enjoyed hearing how humble he feels about his work, and his talent. A quality that not many artists display. He is a world traveller, and feeds his curious soul by always trying new things. Adrian is a book lover, and can talk about movies for endless hours. One of his favorite movies is “Y Tu Mamá También” (And Your Mother Too), a Mexican drama film directed by Alfonso Cuarón, known for its controversial depiction of sexuality. It’s a movie that is exemplary of straight and honest story telling that Adrian enjoys. Adrian is inspired by directors such as Woody Allen, Pedro Almodóvar, Federico Fellini, and Pier Paolo Pasolini — all great film makers known for their unique “daring” styles.

Adrian hopes to continue making quality films that are also daring, relatable, and universal. His current film is about relationships, and it’s striking a chord with both women and men. I personally loved the movie, and the acting really pulled the story through. It’s a great example of straight story telling similar to the movies that Adrian likes. I also enjoyed that it’s direct, and included honest lines showing us a slice of real life. Even though it was a low budget film, you can’t really tell, because the talent is huge.

Adrian is also focused on creating films that tell Latino stories that are not stereo typical. He believes that he’s doing this work for the greater upliftment of the Latino community. It’s amazing to watch the community display pride in him, and come through to support. Everyone that I have seen come in contact with Adrian becomes just as enamored with his passion, and really believe in him.

I will definitely watch this creative soul take flight as he heads towards his destined success. As the famous Italian film director, Federico Fellini once said, “There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the infinite passion of life.” I believe that anything that Adrian shares with the world in the future is going to have a bit of his soul in it–in this case “soulsa”–and most certainly exemplify his endless passion for his art.

Sex, Love & Salsa is premiering on Thursday, November 14th and running through November 20th at Indie Screen in Brooklyn, NY. For tickets go to There will be salsa dancing, and Q& A sessions after each screening.

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