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Jesús Celaya, Mexican-American director, winner of Spotlight Dorado. Photo: Courtesy McDonald's.
Jesús Celaya, Mexican-American director, winner of the 2022 Spotlight Dorado. Photo: Courtesy McDonald's.

'Lucha Noir' wins Spotlight Dorado short film contest

The short film 'Lucha Noir,' by Latino filmmaker Jesús Celaya, won the Spotlight Dorado contest.

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Lucha Noir creator Jesús Celaya is the grand prize winner of the first Spotlight Dorado short film contest, a program created in 2022 by McDonald's in collaboration with Ben Lopez from the consulting firm L21 Consulting and The Hispanic Heritage Foundation.

Earlier this year, the contest called on Latino writers, producers and directors to submit their short film scripts with a fresh perspective on the Latino experience.

From more than 100 entries received, the jury chose three finalists: writer-director Jazmín Aguilar, Mexican-American writer-director Jesús Celaya, and comedian, filmmaker, and professional soccer player Lorena Russi. The three were given a production budget of $75,000 to bring their stories to life. In the process, they were also mentored by the well-known actress Stephanie Beatriz, director Carlos López Estrada, showrunner Ilana Peña, actress Danay García and writer and director Nancy C. Mejía.

In November, the short films Kid Ugly by Aguilar, Lucha Noir by Celaya and A History of Sitting in Waiting Rooms by Russi, premiered on the Spotlight Dorado website and the public voted for their favorite short. The winner when all was counted was Lucha Noir — a noir piece fueled by classic American comics and Mexico's wrestling culture. The short features a luchador and an otherworldly villain facing off in an epic battle fueled by the classic Luchador films, while exploring the dichotomy between good and evil.

“Being named the winner of McDonald’s first-ever short film contest is an honor and an invaluable stepping stone in my career. The Golden Arches gave me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring my story to life, as well as gain new experiences, exposure and connections with several heavy hitters in the film and entertainment industry,” Celaya said. 

As grand prize winner, McDonald's offers Celaya a year-long opportunity to work with the company on creative initiatives and campaigns during 2023.

Who is Jesús Celaya? 

Celaya is a Mexican-American writer and director who grew up between Washington State and the border state Sonora, Mexico. He studied film at the Brooks Institute in L.A. and, since then, has won various awards, including a Latinx Fellowship at the 2020 Screenwriters and Directors Labs.

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