Students’ Big-screen Dreams Shine at the Sun City Film Festival

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EL PASO, Texas — The Sun City Film festival, supposedly a biannual event, seemed forgotten after a three-year absence, but finally it came back to life giving student film makers another opportunity to show El Paso their movie-making skills.

Patrick Mullins, senior lecturer in the Communication department at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), first envisioned the festival as a biannual event, but things did not exactly turn out the way he had planned.

“It had been three years. I think the original idea was if not a yearly than to have a biannual festival and because of other projects three years have gone by,” Mullins said. “We thought it was high time to have a student film festival here on campus again.”

The Sun City Film festival came back —April 30-May 1—and the response to it from the student filmmakers was positive.

Sun City Film Festival proud winners, from left to right: Oscar Moreno, Diana Cordova, Alain Lizarraga, Paulina Kababie, Patrick Almodovar, Daniel Lopez and Alfonso Duarte. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Mullins)

Sun City Film Festival proud winners, from left to right: Oscar Moreno, Diana Cordova, Alain Lizarraga, Paulina Kababie, Patrick Almodovar, Daniel Lopez and Alfonso Duarte. (Photo courtesy of Patrick Mullins)

The festival underwent a few minor changes. It became a competitive festival, which now has five categories for a film to enter into. There was one winner per category with the exception of a category that had two winners because it was so close to choose a winner.

With the film festival not being around for three years, the organizers had plenty of films to choose from which had been made in that time frame. They had plenty of material to put on a long exciting show.

“Just under three hours of short films that we screen tomorrow,” Mullins said. “We will see where the festival goes from here on out. It be nice to do it every second year and if not every year.”

The Chicano Studies department was a partner with the organizing the Sun City Film Festival. Carlos Ortega, a Chicano Studies professor has been working with Mullins and has created a partnership that has benefited both departments and students.

“We have worked with professor Mullins before. He did a documentary film about a year or two years ago called Bracero Stories. We worked with him as far as setting up screenings for the film,” Ortega said. “So really it’s just a partnership made in heaven because the issue of the border is really an issue of Chicano Studies.”

Alex Rivera's Sleep Dealer (Photo courtesy of www.sleepdealer.com)

Alex Rivera's Sleep Dealer (Photo courtesy of www.sleepdealer.com)

On the first night, the festival showed three films by a Mexican American director named Alex Rivera.

The feature film Sleep Dealer was a fascinating film that hit home to El Pasoans in the audience. The film was created in 2007, but the eerie similarities in the film were shocking because of what is going on today.

The main plot of the film was the use of Mexican laborers coming into the United States. They had three nodes in each arm and two in the back of their neck. This allowed them to control machines all over America.

The new anti-immigrant law in Arizona and the technology that we now have only makes people wonder if this could actually happen. A sign in the movie even read “Enter Mexico at your own risk.”

“I think what he was doing was trying to incorporate a lot of this current reality to this movie. What’s so ironic was that this film was made in 2007 and here we are with what happened in Arizona and the film just reeks of this insanity of what’s going on,” Ortega said.

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