Los documentales aumentan en el 30.° Festival de Cine Latino de Chicago

CHICAGO — Animación, comedia, documental y drama son sólo algunas de las categorías que se presentarán en la 30.ª edición del Festival de Cine Latino de Chicago (CLFF, por sus siglas en inglés). Alejandro Riera, Director de Relaciones con los Medios de Comunicación del festival, nos dejó saber que este año habrá 78 películas; 31 son de nuevos directores. Habrá también 14 documentales. “Comparado con festivales pasados, hay más documentales este año”, explicó Riera. Riera no puede decir si el público prefiera el género documental sobre los otros géneros.

A committee of UTEP faculty and students and the Future Leaders in Public Relations organization produced La Estrella Film Festival. (April Lopez/Borderzine.com)

La Estrella Film Festival promotes borderland student films

EL PASO – Aspiring filmmakers from across the border region participated in December in the inaugural launch of La Estrella Film Festival, an event created to celebrate and showcase local student talent. “It’s great because maybe as students we just don’t feel we’re prepared to compete in a larger market,” said Arturo Rubio, who won first place in the commercial category. “So this being right at our back door, it gives more motivation to put yourself out there in the future.”

A committee of faculty and students and the Future Leaders in Public Relations organization produced the event, held December 7 at the University of Texas at El Paso Union Cinema. The festival received over 100 film submissions and 22 were screened. Bobby Gutierrez, senior lecturer in the UTEP Department of Communication, conceived the idea for the student film festival and aimed to create a larger platform for local filmmakers to show off their talent.

Ramon Hamilton, director of Smuggled, answers questions about the production of his movie. (Natassia Bonyanpour/Borderzine.com)

‘Smuggled’ – film depicts the torture and terror suffered by immigrants crossing illegally into the U.S.

EL PASO – With a rosary dangling from her wrist and bible in hand, a mother and her 10-year-old son sit in a concealed compartment under a bus making its route from Mexico to the United States in hopes of being reunited with the child’s father. For days, they endure the strain of possibly being discovered, and the physiological stress of a lack of hygienic, food ration troubles, and the mother’s critical diabetic condition. This is the premise for the film, Smuggled, screened at University of Texas at El Paso by the Social Justice Initiative. The plot gives insight into the dangerous journey that many immigrants undergo despite fatal or legal risks. Director of The Social Justice Initiative, Arvind Singhal, said he brought the film to the campus because of its relevance to the border city.

Lisa Elliott, assistant professor at EPCC, and Bobby Gutierrez, senior lecturer at UTEP, present student work at the third annual Student Film Festival. (Alejandro Alba/Borderzine.com)

Film festival gives students a greater audience for their work

EL PASO – Film students from the University of Texas at El Paso and El Paso Community College yanked their movies out of their computers and projected them for everyone to view at the third annual Student Film Festival. “The biggest tragedy in filmmaking is for a film to stay in a hard drive. This is what you want, a venue where people can see your work,” said Robert Gutierrez, digital media production professor at UTEP. Gutierrez said the collaboration between the two schools worked as a pipeline so that EPCC students can see what to expect when they transfer to UTEP. “I think the students, before, used to produce for just their friends, but now they know that other people are watching, so that raises their quality of their work,” Gutierrez said.

Estudian las comunidades judías, musulmanas y cristianas de la Edad Media en Andalucía

EL PASO – Un grupo de 29 estudiantes y tres instructores de la Universidad de Texas en El Paso viajaron a España en mayo para explorar de manera directa la historia y la cultura españolas. Educadores y estudiantes desarrollaron un proyecto interdisciplinario original que evalúa la importancia de la tolerancia religiosa en la construcción de una sociedad líder en Europa en los campos de arte y ciencia durante la Edad Media. El grupo viajó por Andalucía durante tres semanas, realizando investigaciones sobre la historia de las comunidades judías, musulmanas, y cristianas en el sur de España. Los resultados de este viaje e investigaciones están cristalizadas en el documental, antología, y exhibición fotográfica titulada Andalucía: Fusión de tres culturas. “Ha sido la más hermosa experiencia de mi vida”, dijo Héctor Enríquez, director del proyecto, en la premier privada del documental en presentada en el Quinn Hall de UTEP aquí el 17 de abril.

Charlie Minn presenting The New Juarez at the University of Texas at El Paso. (Luis Hernandez/Borderzine.com)

Charlie Minn’s new documentary, The New Juarez, shows less violence in city leaning toward normalcy

EL PASO – A dwindling murder rate after years of bloodshed in a devastating drug war the city of Juarez never asked for is the subject of filmmaker Charlie Minn’s new documentary. “A lot has changed in the city,” said Minn, as he addressed a crowd recently at the University of Texas at El Paso. Minn has established credibility over the years by independently producing documentaries about Juarez, showcasing the atrocities that have plagued it since the drug war escalated to its most violent point back in 2010. In his third and final movie about the “murder capital of the world,” he focuses on the myriad changes the city has undergone in such a short but hectic period of time. According to Minn the most important factors responsible for the apparently declining murder rate in Juarez are the waning turf wars, the number of clandestine deals between top ranking officials in the Mexican government and drug lords, the demilitarization of the city of Juarez and the hiring of a new and controversial police chief.

The Plaza Theatre reopened as the Plaza Theatre Performing Arts Center on March 17, 2006. (Oscar Garza/Borderzine.com)

The Classic Film Festival to welcome Al Pacino at El Paso’s historic Plaza Theatre

EL PASO – Nostalgia is a wonderful thing when you are well along in life. The memories of youth many times built around classic films are resurrected during the very rare film festivals held from time to time. Well, more than 80 classic films will be shown in El Paso in August. The Plaza Classic Film Festival will be held August 2 – 12 at the historic Plaza Theater. The festival was created in 2008 to celebrate this country’s rich cinema history and rekindle the joy of going to the movies.

“I grew up with a family that had dreams of their own" said Nino. (Jorge Castanon/Borderzine.com)

Hispanic actor loves living a double life – His own and the one he portrays on stage

EL PASO  – Ivan Niño may be able to portray someone else every day in the career path he has chosen, but at the end of the day he is just himself – a gay Hispanic struggling to become a successful actor. Niño, 20, has already been featured in a few films, is teaching an acting class for other aspiring actors and is currently filming a pilot for a children’s TV show. “I’ve done everything, a lot more than just acting. I’ve done the ‘dirty jobs.’ The people that I’ve met or have worked with are often of different ethnicities, but are usually more often than not Caucasian. It can be a little intimidating,” he said.

8 Murders a Day – The poor pay the price in the killing streets of Juárez

EL PASO – The drug related violence in Juárez that has killed some 7,000 persons since 2008 is a war against people, not a war against drugs, as reported in a new documentary film. “This is the greatest human rights disaster today in my view,” said Charlie Minn, director of the documentary film 8 Murders a Day, which premiered here February 18 at the Bassett Mall movie theater. “I felt that making a movie on this topic was the right thing to do. It is too important of a story,” Minn said. In November 2010, Minn and a cameraman started filming 8 Murders a day riding the Juárez streets at night with local news stations, Channel 44 and Univision.

The Miner Movie Makers

EL PASO — At the beginning of the school year in the fall semester of 2009, Bobby Gutierrez had an ambitious group of students in his Intro to Video class. Among those students were Stephanie Soto, Joel Gannon, and myself, Michael Huante. Through the course of the semester, the three of us worked on projects together and with other students, and forged a friendship that holds strong to this day. Stephanie Soto, a senior Digital Media major, came up with an idea by the end of the semester, and told Joel and I about it. She expressed her thoughts on the fact that UTEP didn’t have much going in the area of film, and that something had to be done about it.