On Tuesday, August 20, CLUES hosted a screening at Metropolitan State University to showcase short films created through this summer's Visiones Latino Youth Film Program.
Seven students ages 16 to 19 showcased the 5-minute films they created over the course of the program, an intensive summer workshop that enabled participants to discover new talents and a passion for storytelling while learning skills in scriptwriting, sound recording, cinematography, lighting, and editing. The films explored topics such as identity, belonging and the immigrant experience.
"The aim of this program is to give youth the space to express themselves and share some of the struggles, the hopes and the dreams that each one of the faces," said Ricardo Bennett-Guzmán, an accomplished Latino artist and filmmaker who led the program. Ricardo recently joined CLUES staff and will be leading a variety of youth programming, including our new Best Buy Teen Tech Center that will soon open at CLUES newly expanded St. Paul Headquarters.
"Film is a reflection of society, both present, and past. Movies can have a great impact - sometimes more than what we think - in our personal lives," Ricardo continued. "When we make documentaries like this and we tell stories of young people like our students, it's really inspiring and it really makes a big impact. You never know what you're going to get."
The students were joined by friends, family and community leaders as they presented their work for the first time. Guests included CLUES President and CEO Ruby Lee and Metropolitan State University, President Ginny Arthur. The event was also live-streamed for students' family members living abroad.
"The voices of our Latino youth are critically important for the community development work that we're doing in Minnesota," said Ruby Lee, CLUES President, and CEO. "At the same time, we know all the negative things that we're hearing about our community and about Latino immigrants. This class and these projects counteract those negative voices. So I am very thankful to all for the youth who participated in this program. They are the future of Minnesota!"
Francisca Railef’s film explored her identity and heritage, both as a Latina and a member of the Mapuche indigenous community, through self-reflection and interviews with her father and grandmother. Francisca said she hopes to share her film with other Mapuche youth to help them learn more about their history and be proud of who they are. She would like to continue learning more about filmmaking and have the chance to tell more stories.
“I was really nervous until I sat down here and was ready to watch it,” Francisca said. “It was cool to see how all the time that went into it and all the stress and the ups and downs that came with it came to be this really cool video. And everyone else’s video was amazing! You never really see it all come together until now.”
Thank you to Ricardo and all the students for your hard work. Stay tuned for more opportunities to see the students’ films presented!
If you didn't have the opportunity to attend, we invite you to watch the live streaming video here.