Gabriel Duran was born and raised in Wichita Falls, before he moved to Dallas 10 years ago. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington and is now a professor of film at the University of North Texas.
He first developed a love for film, interestingly enough, from MTV (Music Television).
“Growing up it was this new thing to see these videos on TV. I was mesmerized by the images and storytelling,” Duran said.
Being able to take an idea from script to screen and then having people watch that idea come to live was a dream of his. Film is an artistic method that evokes emotion from the viewer like nothing else can, Duran says.
As a Latin American, he said there were few positive role models in film. He said the Latin American characters were often the “bad guys,” involved in drug cartels or gangs.
In his film-making and teaching career, Duran said he has attended numerous film festivals and discovered a distinct lack of Latino films.
When he came to UNT as a professor, he joined with the Festival de Cine Latino Americano (FDCLA), a nonprofit organization who aims to bring awareness to Latin American independent films as an art form.
“Through film, these directors can take the audience on a roller-coaster of emotions,” he said. “They can create an image of something they want to show, something from this beautiful culture. People can see what we can do as far as art and film and change how we are perceived.”
While he lives in the Dallas area, Duran said he keeps track of happenings in the Wichita Falls and is excited about the revitalization of the downtown area.
He said he’s heard a great deal about the resurrection of downtown from his brother and sister-in-law, Ismael and Alicia, who are owners of an event venue at 806 Travis.
Duran was originally going to have the film festival at their location but changed to an indoor venue in case of cold weather.
“This ties perfectly in what’s going on downtown,” Duran said. “The area completely needs to see that change and I think it is wonderful. This festival is a way to celebrate the arts and what is going on downtown.”
This is the group’s first shot at this festival in Wichita Falls and Duran said he wants to bring it back again next year with all new films.
“We are honored to have this opportunity,” he said. “This is our first attempt in Wichita Falls, and we plan to always have one in Wichita Falls before the one in Dallas.”
A group picture of the FDCLA committee at their previous Latin American film festival. (Photo: Contributed photo)
FDCLA discovered there is a lack of Latin American film opportunities north of Dallas. The closest similar film festival is in Houston. Duran said there is nothing like this festival anywhere in North Texas or Oklahoma.
“There’s not really anything north of Dallas. Not in Oklahoma either. We want to expand out that way, both as a nonprofit and a film festival,” Duran said.
After the preview showing here, the full three-day film festival will be in Denton Feb. 2-25. Duran said the film festival will be in Dallas next year.
The Noche de Cine Latino – Night of Latin film – festival will be 7 to 9 p.m., Dec. 23, at The Stone Palace, 1211 Indiana Ave.
There will be seven short films between 10- and 26-minutes long, for a total running time of about two hours. They will be shown in two blocks of time with a 20-minute break in between.
Duran said the full event in February will have films of all lengths, but these short movies are better to showcase the variety of Latin American film. All the films, except one, will be in a foreign language, generally Spanish or Portuguese, and they will include subtitles.
Film Festival schedule: 7-9 p.m. Dec. 23
Block 1 – total time 1 hr., 10 min.
- Squeeze Box – 20 minutes
- El Sabor de los Nudillos – 26 min.
- Para Ellos – 24 min.
Block 2 – total time 55 min.
- Blast Beat – 17 min.
- Quince – 15 min.
- Peor Ed Nada – 13 min.
- Mosca – 10 min.
1. Squeeze Box – (USA, in English) Manuel Casillas reemerges from a musical hiatus determined to embark on a new phase of his career. His plans are put to a halt by a collection of vivid dreams, a group of feral cats, and a strange box containing a substance that devours whatever to touches. Written, directed by Sam Lerma.
2. El Sabor de los Nudillos – (Mexico, Spanish with subtitles) Pancho wants to escape poverty and wants the approval of his father but all he has are his fists to work with. Written, directed by Dante Silva.
3. Para Ellos – (USA, Spanish with subtitles) Para Ellos is a modern children’s fable about Maria, a smart, determined 10-year-old girl who loves nothing more than her father and his bedtime tales. The night her father goes missing, she, along with her little brother Juan, embark on a journey across the U.S./Mexico border in hopes of bring him back home – but not without the guidance of three curious, yet meddling desert creatures. Written, directed by Christian Contreras and Victoria De La Torre.
4. Blast Beat – (USA, Spanish with subtitles) Carly, a Columbian metal head and a new resident of the American suburbs makes a bold leap into adulthood to save the future of his family. Written, directed by Erick Castrillon and Esteban Arango.
5. Quince – (USA, Spanish with subtitles) A young Latina girl is forced to grow up after her Quinceanera. Written, directed by Christina Gonzales.
6. Peor Ed Nada – (USA, Spanish with subtitles) A motivated young Mexican is eager to get to the US to reunite with his wife and newborn child. He makes a deal with a local coyote but ends up in the US, not knowing how he got there. With a metal box attached to his arm, he must find his way to his family. Written, directed by Gabriel Duran.
7. Mosca – (USA, Spanish with subtitles) A wayward teen revisits her hometown to reconnect with her cousin, despite her aunt’s wishes. Written, directed by Lizette Barrea.