Amanecer kicks off Border Stories at LALIFF

Matias Stevens (Juan) and Jessica Chapnik (Andrea)

Amanecer, a wonderful short film written and sensitively directed by Colombian/Australian filmmaker Alvaro D. Ruiz, was chosen as the very first film to screen as part of the Border Stories collection of short subjects at the 13th Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) this week.

In Amanecer (aka Daybreak), a young South American man struggles to build a new life for his wife and daughter in Australia. Facing disappointment, rejection and corruption at every turn, he succumbs to despair, unable to return home and face his wife with the truth of his failures. Crippled by defeat, Juan finds himself dreading the break of dawn.

Matias Stevens (Juan) and Jessica Chapnik (Andrea) star as the sweet young couple with a pretty little girl. The pair give convincing and restrained performances in this subtle and heartfelt movie. Ruiz has created an exquisite gem of a short story that is sure to resonate with anyone who has immigrated to an new country in search of a better life. The film concludes with a plaintive song, sung by its leading lady Jessica Chapnik.

Amanecer was shot over a few days November 2008 using the state-of-art Red digital motion picture camera. Ruiz”™ film made its World Premier in May, 2009, as part of the official selection at the Dungog Film Festival, in Australia. Amanecer has also been screened in the Official Selection at other film festivals, including Villa De Leyva Film Festival, the Festival de Cortos De Manizales and also the 26th Bogota Film Festival, all in Colombia, during September and October this year.

Going from strength to strength, Amanecer gained acclaim at the 2009 Sydney Latin American Film Festival winning the Local Filmmaker award for Best Short Film.

: Stop Press : In last minute news, Amanecer has been accepted to screen in competition at the Shorts Film Festival in Adelaide in December, a premier film festival devoted to local content.

Now, its acceptance into the LALIFF, one of the world”™s largest festivals devoted to Latin films, is not only a prestigious opportunity but a step towards Oscar® recognition. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Science recognizes LALIFF as a qualifying festival, making the winner of its Short Film Category eligible for Oscar® consideration.

Other short films screened at LALIFF in the Border Stories collection were Braceros (USA/Brazil), dir. Belinda J. Carreño; The Book of the Border (USA/Mexico), dir. Andrés Torres-Vives; Niña Quebrada (USA) dir. Jen Kleiner, and Tijuanerso (USA/Mexico) dir. Paul Bodadilla.

Alvaro D. Ruiz is a promising filmmaker and it will be exciting to chart his rise to fame.

review by Pauline Adamek

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