This Student Film Hopes to Smash Stereotypes About Mexican Youth
Mexico's more than crime, drugs, and coyotes taking people across the border. A grad student's film hopes to show the side of youth eager to dream.
Thanks to the media, your view of Mexico is probably full of stereotypes: crime, gangs, drugs, and people handing cash over to coyotes who will take them across the border into the United States in search of a better life. As a graduate film student at Columbia University, I'm taking on those stereotypes and using my thesis film, Victoria, Gto, to tell the story of another Mexico that's often overlooked. It's a side that I feel strongly needs more recognition—that of a country filled with hard working and humble people who have the same hopes and dreams as anyone else.
Victoria, Gto is a very personal project for me since I was raised in Victoria, a town of about 18,000 residents in the Mexican state of Guanajuato, until I was three years old and my family immigrated to Los Angeles. I did not have a chance to go back until I was in college and I remember immediately falling in love. The town—the colors, the cobblestone streets, and the church in the center of town with everything nestled in a small valley—is absolutely stunning.
I have always wanted to make a film in Victoria, but never found the story that would do it justice until a recent trip when I had the opportunity to hang out with my teenage cousin and his friends. Very quickly I realized that they were just like my friends and I when we were in high school. While they messed around, cracked jokes and chased girls, they had huge dreams and were extremely focused on their pursuit of a higher education and exploring the world outside of their small town.
I am attracted to stories that are as much about place as they are about people—it is a sense of authenticity to which I am drawn, and hanging out with my cousins helped me realize the story was in front of me all along. It was the story of their dreams, hopes, and aspirations. And, I thought to myself, there is nobody better to embody the spirit of Victoria than the kids who actually live there.
Indeed, the film is the story of two teenaged friends, Tavillo and Armando, on their last day in their small Mexican town before they head off to college. What is meant to be a day celebration is marred when a secret comes to light that ends up testing their friendship. Because the goal is finding a truthful and honest portrayal of my characters though these teens and their lives, I will be working closely with local teenagers and casting them in the film.
As a filmmaker, it is my goal to create engaging and socially conscious films, but because I'm only a graduate student, I'm also not exactly flush with the cash I need to get it done. My goal for this film is to raise $9,000 to cover the cost of the food, travel, equipment, and everything else that comes along with the production of a short film. I have registered the project on a fundraising website called Seed&Spark.
With this film, I want to shine a light on the future of Mexico—the youth. The ideas of education and social consciousness are often overlooked when thinking about the younger generations in Mexico. I want to explore how universal this type of coming of age story really is. I’m going to highlight not only the town and its beauty, but also its people, who are at the emotional core of modern Mexico.
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This project is part of GOOD's Saturday series Push for Good—our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.