Director Aurora Guerrero was selected as a Sundance Institute/Ford Foundation film fellow in 2005, where she and participated in the NativeLab Fellowship with her "Mosquita y Mari" script. She also worked on the project through Tribeca All Access (2006) and the Film Independent Producers Lab (2009). "Mosquita y Mari" won the 2011 SFFS/KRF Filmmaking Grant and an LG Cinema 3D Fellowship, while Guerrero has been named a Sundance Institute/Time Warner fellow. Guerrero's alma matters are University of California, Berkeley (Psychology, Chicano studies) and CalArts (Directing). Her short films include "Pura Lengua (All Tongue)" and "Viernes Girl."
Guerrero says she came to film later in life; "I wasn't exposed to working artists of color while growing up so I had no idea that I could actually pursue a career in the arts, let alone film. Sadly, I thought I was suppose to only experience film as a viewer, not a maker. It wasn't until I came into my political consciousness and began work as an activist that my idea of what my life could be about changed." She discovered the power of art–personal and communal–while working as an activist in San Francisco. "The moment I engaged with the arts I discovered a space that felt like home to me,..It wasn't until I felt that special connection to film that I understood what others meant when they would say they couldn't see themselves doing anything else."
What's it about: It's a coming of age story as well as a tale about a first love that changes the lives of two Chicana high school girls living in Los Angeles' Huntington Park.
Says director Guerrero: "Often times we don't get the opportunity to reflect on the things that shaped our lives. I'm fortunate to be able to do that in a very visceral way through this film. What I put forth in 'Mosquita y Mari' is a chapter in my adolescence where love was the vehicle to my coming of age. It was this sweet, tender love that helped me discover different layers of myself. None of it was about putting labels to it or freaking out because I thought I might be gay. This experience had nothing to do with that. It was about being in the moment with it. It was about connecting with someone on a spiritual level for the first time. Yes, there were societal pressures that kept us from ever telling each other that we loved each other but nonetheless, it was still my first love and worth immortalizing on film."
On the challenges of getting it made: "My vision for the film was never to cast big stars or anything like that. I always wanted to keep this film as close to realism as possible. I didn't want a name actor to enter a scene and take the audience out. So to try and get people to invest in a film with two young bilingual Chicanas as the leads was extremely difficult. But obviously that didn't stop me!"
Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.
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