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Meet the 2012 SXSW Filmmakers #11: Silas Howard & Ernesto Foronda, 'Sunset Stories'

By Indiewire Staff | Indiewire March 4, 2012 at 11:00AM

"Sunset Stories" directors Silas Howard and Ernesto Foronda have an interesting take on filmmaking: "All film production feels like painting a picture on the railroad tracks with a train barreling down on you," says Howard. "You can paint up until the last minute pulling it off the tracks before the train smashes into your work." Looks like they pulled off the tracks in time, as "Sunset Stories" will be screening at this year's SXSW Film Festival.
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Silas Howard and Ernesto Foronda
Silas Howard and Ernesto Foronda

"Sunset Stories" directors Silas Howard and Ernesto Foronda have an interesting take on filmmaking: "All film production feels like painting a picture on the railroad tracks with a train barreling down on you," says Howard. "You can paint up until the last minute pulling it off the tracks before the train smashes into your work." Looks like they pulled off the tracks in time, as "Sunset Stories" will be screening at this year's SXSW Film Festival.

What It's About: It’s about an OCD nurse who runs into her past while on route to pick up an organ transplant and the 24-hour journey she goes on to find all that she lost.

The Directors Say: "In 'Sunset Stories,' May blames magical thinking (which is often linked to OCD behavior a way of trying to control one’s life) as the reason she runs into the one person she left 5 years prior. However the story really examines how one finds the strength to admit, and perhaps be released from, a regret. Lily Tomlin has a great quote: 'Forgiveness is letting go of the hope of changing your past.' I think that theme is in there too. The story plays with interconnection between the cast of lost characters, who take or end up with the cooler, each echoing this idea of running versus letting go.

"In our past work, both of us have focused on showing lives often 'othered' in film and recasting them in stories where they are front and center – the hero rather than the sidekick. They function as fully realized characters, imperfect and fallible, but not serving a lesser purpose most 'othered' characters often do. We want to keep furthering representation of marginalized characters in new, challenging, fun and exciting ways.

"It's okay to wear your heart on your sleeve. Being emotional - being able to laugh and cry when you want - is powerful. No matter who you are, you are in control of your own story/destiny and everyone deserves a happy ending. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise."

Filmmakers' Inspirations: "'Chungking Express,' 'After Hours' and 'Cleo 5 to 7.'"

What the Directors Expect in Austin: "Fun. Brisket. See amazing films. Geek out. It’s been a long haul and the team is ready for some entertainment. Believe me just to enjoy the festival as a goal, is huge. Filmmaking can take the fun out of anything but we love it so because we are crazy. And of course we very much hope the people at SXSW enjoy and connect with our movie."

What Silas Is Up To: "I was raised in working class, rural Vermont towns by my young, ambitious father. The first film that really formed me was One Flew Over The Cuckoo Nest, my mom took me to see while visiting her. I was probably too young too see such a film. However when Big Red threw the water fountain through the window and escaped I was hooked by the power visual storytelling, especially for those existing outside ‘normalcy’. I started making films out of an intense desire to see stories of the world I knew up on the big screen and a complete ignorance of how much work it would be, now I'm in too far to turn back.

"I’m developing an adaptation of Michelle Tea’s novel, 'Chelsea Whistile'…if Holden Caulfield was a 13-year-old girl in a working class town on a search for a rumored dead runaway. Two other projects in the wings; one about a washed-up 80’s TV star who takes a job impersonating himself in Vegas and a feature based on the life of 1940’s jazz musician, Billy Tipton, who was discovered at the time of his death to have been born female."

What Ernesto Is Up To: "I was born in the Philippines and an aunt had taken me along to see 'Jaws' as a young child. I was totally hooked (pun, intended) then. To this day I have a great love for horror films and nervously laugh at the worst moments. I moved to the infamous OC as a young boy and my parents couldn’t afford childcare while they worked so I spent most of my afternoons at the multiplex going from movie to movie. While I struggled to fit in as an immigrant, I found shelter and acceptance in the dark theater. Even then, I knew that I wanted to make films.

"I'm working on an adaptation of Scott Heim's ('Mysterious Skin') novel, 'We Disappear' and an adaptation of legendary manga artist Osamu Tezuka's ('Astro Boy) 'Dororo'. I am also developing two micro-budgeted features, one about the end of the world and another about gay man's obsession with fatherhood, none of which are comedies."

Indiewire invited SXSW 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.

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.

This article is related to: Meet the 2012 SXSW Filmmakers, Sunset Stories, South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW)