It wasn’t until she had won an audience’s choice award at a student film festival that they slowly began to understand that filmmaking wasn’t going to be just a passing phase for her, she said.
Gripped by an active imagination that is constantly conjuring up ideas and a deep understanding of the power of film to impact people’s lives, Durazo said she couldn’t imagine herself doing anything else.
“Filmmaking allows me to make my imagination a reality,” Durazo said. “I wish more people would know what that feels like.”
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The 23-year-old Calexico resident was the driving force behind two short films, “Vanity” and “Una Oportunidad de Vida,” that screened at the Imperial Valley Film Festival on Saturday and competed for honors.
Judging the festival’s 22 short films was no small feat. Although 28 films were submitted, some had to be disqualified for not meeting certain standards, said film commissioner Charla Teeters-Stewart.
“We want to make sure that we are constantly elevating,” she said.
A film’s idea and concept had to be original, and the filmmaker had to find a way to execute it properly in an entertaining way, said Valley native and award-winning producer Raul Celaya, who served on the judges’ panel.
“We know the limitations of the young filmmakers, so we look for originality and execution,” the co-founder of Dogwood Entertainment said.
The goal of the film festival is to get local filmmakers and artists to take risks and produce works that can be shown in a venue that respects the craft, Celaya said.
With 11 years in the industry under his belt, Celaya said that had the festival been around at the time he was growing up in the Valley, he most certainly would have gotten interested in filmmaking at a much earlier age.
“As long as people submit films we will have this festival,” Celaya said.
Mexicali resident Fernando Corona said he didn’t even know that his stop-animation short and directorial debut “Los Niños de la Casa Metafisica” was submitted until after the fact. His was along a total of six festival submissions that came from Mexicali.
The film, which can be found on YouTube, centers on an abandoned house that is subjected to a series of playful artistic transformations.
It wasn’t until much re-editing that he said he finally thought the pacing and flow of the short were just right. Yet, “there are always doubts that enough had been done” with the film, Corona said in Spanish.
As someone who considers himself more of a muralist than a film director, Corona said he is also exploring ways to collaborate with Valley artists and filmmakers on future projects.
The proximity and sense of community experienced in the Mexicali and Imperial valleys are more vibrant here than other border areas, Corona said, noting that the Imperial Valley has a lot of empty spaces that can be “occupied by art for public enjoyment.”
Imperial Valley Film Festival shorts competition winners, by director:
First place: Fernando Corona, “Los Niños de la Casa Metafisica”
Second place: Magdalena Ramirez, “Voyage to the Moon”
3rd place: Chris Radomski, “Pizzafection”
Honorable mention: Ivan Alejandro Martinez Zazueta, “Pancho y Blanca”
Best depiction of life in the Imperial Valley: Adrian Carmona, “Imperial Valley Through the Lens of a Camera”
Staff writer, copy editor Julio Morales can be reached at 760-335-4665 or at email@example.com.
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