The 4th Annual Oklahoma Cine Latino Festival opened Friday night back on Capitol Hill where it began, but in a significantly nicer location.
The new Capitol Hill Center of Oklahoma City Community College at SW 25th Street and Hudson Avenue was where the festival was held this year.
The hard work invested by youth in a series of Saturday workshops finally came to its conclusion at the Festival Friday.
Two shorts were done by two teams of the youth who were in the workshop.
Students were given assignments and a short period of time to develop an idea, write the script and go through the filmmaking process including editing and production.
I’m Not Crazy is a psychological suspense short that digs into the topic of mental illness and crime.
Desire develops a humorous approach to the dark topics of love and obsession.
The crowd enjoyed the opportunity to ask questions and give encouragement to the high school youth who responded in English and Spanish.
We asked what was the hardest thing about going through the filmmaking process.
Every one of the youth answered that it was coordinating their work, school activities and the workshop schedule during the weeks that it ran.
Some of the students work heavy schedules on the weekends and had to find a way to keep their jobs and still get off.
Others were starting into spring sports and had to ask their coaches to take some hours off for the workshop.
One of the two directors and instructors of the workshop, Rogelio Almeida, confirmed that scheduling was the greatest challenge for the youth.
“Being a filmmaker involves overcoming time and scheduling challenges so that was a part of their learning,” said Almeida.
“They have done a great job with these two films.”
The other director/instructor was Victor Caballero.
“Definitely a big difference this year was having the students from last year come back,” Caballero said.
“This year we were just stepped back and let the veterans help the other students who were just starting.”
He said it was a part of the learning process for students to teach each other.
One of the entries into this year’s festival was Aver, which is translated as proceeding with confidence.
The youthful Felicia Villarreal from Los Angeles directed the film and had one of the lead roles.
Around 20 of her family members of all ages came to the festival to support her.
A considerable number of films in the festival centered on the passion and struggle of Latin Americans trying to immigrate to the U.S. for economic opportunity.
This one was no different and reveals the deep personal connection modern-day Latinos feel with their own past of immigrant relatives who were documented and undocumented.
Villarreal wrote the film based on a blending of her grandparents’ story and the stories of many other of older generations in her family.
She also used some of the younger generations of her family to portray her relatives from the past by casting her young cousin, Victoria Villareal, in the role of her grandmother as a young girl.
The young Villareal said that making the film was “exciting and adventurous.”
The director’s family was clearly proud and stayed for the whole event to the very end, gathering for photos as a group afterward.
It was a perfect representation of the strong family ties that exist in Hispanic culture even today when so much threatens to unwind families of all cultures.