From Coral Gables to Tinseltown

Top student films to be shown at ’Canes Film Showcase in Hollywood.

By Barbara Gutierrez
UM News

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 21, 2014) — A young graffiti artist from Miami’s Overtown struggles to begin an art career amidst inner-city violence. A hitchhiker in the Everglades takes the most suspenseful car ride of his life. A poor mother in Guatemala raising seven children learns to read along with her young daughters.

These are the plots of Emory, Tourist, and Romana, three of the eight award-winning films, shorts, and documentaries produced by University of Miami film students that will be shown at the 2014 ’Canes Film Showcase at the Paramount Theatre in Hollywood, California, on May 22. The other films include For Better or for Worse, Lost in the Aegean, Posthumous, and El Empantanado as well as the TV script PT Pilot. They took top honors earlier this month at UM’s ’Canes Film Festival at the Cosford Cinema, qualifying for the ’Canes Film Showcase.

The Showcase allows students to meet and network with dozens of alumni and friends of UM’s School of Communication.

(For an update on the Showcase and to view a photo of the students at the Paramount Theatre, click here.)

“This is a unique event that allows students to hobnob with the best and brightest in the entertainment and film industry,” said Ed Talavera, chair of the Department of Cinema and Interactive Media. “It is a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them.”

The diversity and scope of the films and documentaries being shown this year demonstrate the growth and maturity of the UM film program. As part of the curriculum, the program allows students to spend a week perfecting their craft in Guatemala and Greece. Many of the films show the cultural and ethnic diversity of South Florida and the region.

“I am excited and nervous about the showcase,” said Chinese-born Zilong Liu, a first-year graduate student, who directed Tourist. His hope is that the film, a police thriller set in the Everglades, will gain the attention of move executives and help earn him an internship in the industry.

A love of film nurtured by his uncle at an early age inspired Colombian-born Luis Galvis to study filmmaking. When his documentary, Romana, is shown at the Showcase, his uncle, Carlos Diaz, will be in the audience. Galvis and his team are excited to be included, especially since documentaries usually do not make it into the mix, he said. Filmed during the week that UM film students spent in Guatemala, Romana is a touching profile of a poor Guatemalan mother who does not allow the ravages of poverty to affect her family.

The life of Overtown artist Purvis Young inspired the team of Tyler Hyser, Ashish Yamdagni, and Angellica Johnson to create a short in that inner-city enclave. Emory features a young African-American artist who aspires to get out of the circle of poverty and violence that surrounds him. “The strength of the film is that it promotes positive social change,” said Elizabeth Youman, writer and editor of Emory. “The community really got involved and was so happy to see this project come to fruition in their neighborhood.”

Barbara Gutierrez can be reached at 305-284-3205

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A scene from Romana, one of the eight films, shorts, and documentaries that will be shown at the ’Canes Film Showcase.

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