SMC Film Wins Prague Independent Film Festival Award

International Competition Recognizes “Muñecas” as Best Student Film

"Muñecas”—a short film directed by Santa Monica College film student Osvaldo (Ozzy) Ozuna—won the Best Student Film Award at the 2017 Prague Independent Film Festival (PIFF) held August 3-6 in the Czech Republic capital.

August 9, 2017

SANTA MONICA, CA—Santa Monica College (SMC) is pleased to announce that the SMC student-film production "Muñecas” has won the Best Student Film Award at the 2017 Prague Independent Film Festival (PIFF). The international festival, now in its second year, was held August 3-6 in the Czech Republic capital.

Written and directed by SMC student Osvaldo (Ozzy) Ozuna, “Muñecas” is a short film that explores life on the US-Mexican border for a young student whose family is caught up in the drug trade.

“I wanted to showcase the involvement of the innocents in this situation, which affects whole families,” says Ozuna. “Children are being used as mules by the drug cartels.”

To escape the situation, Ozuna’s parents moved to the United States from Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico, when Ozuna was 10. His family’s undocumented status was a hardship, but he pursued his passion for music and the arts throughout his middle- and high-school years. “Then, at SMC, I saw articles about students having their films shown at Cannes,” says Ozuna. “I’ve always had an interest in film, so I thought, ‘Well, the tools are here; I might as well try something I’m truly passionate about.’”

Ozuna was not able to attend the awards ceremony in Prague due to his DACA status. DACA – the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals – offers a renewable two-year deferment from deportation and a work permit to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors. If they leave the U.S., however, their DACA status can be revoked.

“In a time when world migration dominates the headlines, ‘Muñecas’ is the human reality behind the statistics. It delves into the unfailingly surreal U.S./Mexico border, where cultures clash and intertwine – often violently, sometimes tenderly,” says Salvador Carrasco, who heads the SMC Film Production Program. “As evidenced by its recent win at the Prague Independent Film Festival, the cinematic landscape of ‘Muñecas’ speaks to audiences because it is a microcosm of communities in a complex world where borders are both prominent and also vanishing. One of the film’s great ironies is that its own director cannot leave the United States due to his immigration status, yet his voice can still cross frontiers through the power of storytelling.”

Ozuna says he dedicates “Muñecas” to his parents. “Making this movie was a two-year project, and only possible because of their support. And I’m especially grateful to Professor Carrasco, who saw the potential in my script – and in me – and who encouraged and guided me through the process.”

Carrasco also extended his support beyond the classroom, leading to an internship for Ozuna at Village Roadshow Pictures. Ozuna was recently hired as a writer for a feature film by SIBA Media, a Los Angeles-based entertainment production company founded by SMC Professor Simone Bartesaghi.

The Prague Independent Film Festival is an annual event that presents the most innovative and original motion pictures made by young and established directors. The festival is an IMDb Qualified Event, with film screenings held in the historical cinemas of central Prague. A jury of film professionals views all films submitted to PIFF, judging them on criteria that include new ideas, experimental cinematography, talented work of actors, and an individualistic point of view.

For more information about the SMC Film Program, please see the Film Program Facebook Page or call (310) 434-3766.

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