IMPERIAL — The sixth annual Imperial Valley Film Festival and Artist Showcase featured local and international filmmakers Friday and Saturday located at The Movies Imperial theaters in Imperial.
Charla Teeters, executive director and film commissioner of the Imperial County Film Commission, said 22 independent short films by local and international filmmakers were screened Saturday. In addition, participants attended one of four workshops such as Basics of Stunt Work by Shannan Leigh Reeve, What’s Happening in Hollywood by David Ortiz, Basics of TV & Movie Makeup by Lynda Schaeps, and Screen Writing by Danny Torres and Bret Kofford.
Festival goers also viewed paintings and photographs displayed adjacent to the entrance of the screening theater.
Three local filmmakers garnered awards at the film festival.
The film “Miles“ marked Ariel Jutras’ debut as filmmaker and earned her two awards for best cinematography, and a tie for second place with Sarah Gampel’s film, “The Bus Stop.” Gampel is from Stockholm, Sweden.
“I’m so humbled,” Jutras said as she was surrounded by supportive loved ones and friends during an interview.
“I would have never expected this with my first film,” Jutras said. “I’m just happy people appreciated it and got a laugh out of it, and thought it was good, creative, and it made people smile.”
After graduating from Central Union High School in 2008, Jutras attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles, where she currently resides. She works in Hollywood as a costume designer. After four years in the film industry, Jutras said, she tried her hand at directing, even without formal education in filmmaking.
Ryan Brandt won the Best Imperial Valley Filmmaker with his entry, “The Man from Jalisco, Part 2.”
“It’s awesome and a great honor. I’m really excited,” Brandt said during the presentation of his trophy. In his film, he depicted hardworking people and business owners who wanted to get rich quick from the water wars.
According to his bio, Brandt wrote the first script for the award-winning entry in 2004 in a UCLA screenwriting program. In October 2016, Brandt produced “The Man from Jalisco, Part 2.”
Justin Burquist won the Best Music Video for his film, “Emerald Portal—One Hundred Twenty.” An Imperial Valley native, Burquist is a graduate of San Diego State University, Calexico, and is currently pursuing a career as an independent filmmaker.
Other local filmmakers who submitted short films included Ryan Perez who was born in Brawley and attended Calipatria High School. He submitted “Devil’s Dive Bar.” Alex Gastelum, born in San Diego and raised in Mexicali, Baja California and Calexico submitted “Green Eyes.” Ruben Najera, born and raised in El Centro, has a passion for skateboarding, and he submitted two short films called “Chainlink & Concrete”, and “Desert Duty”. Telio F. Espinoza from Mexicali, Baja California submitted “The Agreement” and Mario Flores, also from Mexicali, Baja California — “The Staircase.”
There was a reception Friday evening followed by a special screening of the documentary film, “First To Go: Story of the Kataoka Family,” by Myles Matsuno, which is based on his family’s experience in the internment camps during World War II; and an opening film called “Sleep Dealers” by Alex Rivera. A question and answer session followed each special screening.