By Mike Cook
Las Cruces Bulletin
LAS CRUCES – A 10-minute film produced by a recent graduate of New Mexico State University’s Creative Media Institute (CMI) program won the best narrative short film-comedy award at a major film festival and is now qualified to compete in the 2020 Oscars.
The 10-minute film is called “Pozole.” The qualifying film festival is Cinequest Film and Creativity Festival, which drew more than 100,000 people to its 2019 festival earlier in April in San Jose, California. The film’s producer is Jennifer “Jenn” Garcia, who graduated from CMI in 2016 and now works for Hardline Films in Albuquerque.
Garcia said only 140 short films qualify for Academy Awards nominations.
“Pozole” was filmed in Albuquerque’s downtown and Martineztown over three days last summer, said its writer and director, Jessica Mendez Siqueiros, a filmmaker who divides her time between New York and Los Angeles. The story is set in Tucson, where Siqueiros grew up and centers around the death of the lead character’s great-grandmother five days after her 100th birthday. In the film, Siqueiros said she “wanted to explore the Hispanic traditions in my family,” which go back at least five generations to Arizona statehood and even the Mexican-American War.
Siqueiros cast the lead roles in the film, she said, and then relied on Martinez to cast the remaining parts, help secure locations, hire the crew – including CMI students – and rent the cameras and other equipment to make the film.
CMI students working on the film, including the costume designer, “helped a lot on the set,” Garcia said. “Their training (at CMI) definitely helped in working on the film,” she said.
“The mixed class productions and senior projects in CMI helped the most with my career,” Garcia said. “The structure allowed me to build productions from the ground up under the guidance of the professors and helped me find a group of talented filmmakers that I still hire and work with to this day.”
Garcia grew up in Roswell and moved to Las Cruces to attend NMSU, where she obtained degrees in creative media and marketing.
Garcia and fellow CMI alumni Keagan Karnes and Sheridan O’Donnell started Hardline Films in Albuquerque.
Cinequest was founded in 1990, said Matt Opsal of Cinquest, Inc. Submissions just opened for the 30th annual festival, which will be held March 3-15, 2020. (Visit cinequest.org/submissions.)
Mike Cook may be contacted at email@example.com.