BUCK Goes to the Imperial Valley and Mexicali
The Imperial Valley in California is a unique border location that I had never heard of before I went with FILM FORWARD and my film BUCK. It was an experience I will never forget. I had been told to prepare for HOT weather, but upon arriving, I was pleasantly surprised to find a dry warm breeze that felt wonderful after leaving the damp chill of Connecticut. The Imperial Valley has a desert climate that can get cool and breezy in the evenings, but climb to over 100° during the day!
My first screening of BUCK was appropriately at the Stockmen’s Club in Brawley, CA. It was a wonderful place with a Western theme and I was pleased that so many families showed up with young Buck fans. They really seemed to enjoy the film and we had a lively Q&A afterwards.
I especially enjoyed taking the film to two separate high schools and seeing the unique architecture and difference in both. The warm climate allows for a very open-air style of “hallways.” The first showing was at Calexico High School in Calexico and the other was South West High School in El Centro. I have always loved bringing this film to high school students because you just never know what they will take away from it. The students were from theater and film classes and were very interested in the aspects of storytelling and how the film was made. They were wonderful in expressing how they related to the story.
We were incredibly lucky to get to work with Marco Vera from Mexicali Rose, which is a dynamic grassroots organization run out of a house that has been converted into an arts center for the youth community in Mexicali. We visited there when they were taping a radio show that they do daily from 4-10 p.m., and we saw their art show of amazing photographs. We then headed to CEART, which is The State Arts Center in Baja California. I was able to show the film in Spanish to a small group of locals who stayed and asked questions through Marco, who translated them for me. Once again, the message of the film seemed to transcend the boundary of a fence that was just a few miles away. I was so surprised that they had an entire art exhibit there in that beautiful space that was dedicated solely to the fence that runs between the two countries. I was told that the Mexican people don’t understand why the fence is there and that they expect it will one day be taken down. It was a different way of looking at things, and I was a bit shocked at their perception of the border. It was an eye-opening experience to see how differently people can perceive something. We had an amazing dinner of local tacos at an original Mexican restaurant and then ventured to view some of the most incredible murals I had ever seen, which were painted on a group of buildings in the heart of town. It was a very enlightening adventure to travel across the border. I loved it, and Marcowas a wonderful guide!
The team for FILM FORWARD that we traveled with was truly wonderful in their hard work and dedication with this program. It is a wonderful thing to use film to help bridge communities and people through storytelling.