The University of San Diego’s Trans-Border Institute (TBI) has had two objectives since its 1994 inception: promote U.S.-Mexico border-related scholarship, activities and community at USD; and promote an active role for the university in the cross-border community.
Today through Thursday, TBI, in partnership with Communication Studies Department Chair and Professor Kristin Moran, hosts its annual Border Film Week at Mother Rosalie Hill Hall’s Warren Auditorium. While TBI’s mission statement will certainly be fulfilled, one of its more exciting aspects is an opportunity for USD students to gain hands-on experience in a free documentary video filmmaking workshop on March 28.
The workshop, 1-5 p.m. in the Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Production Studio, is open to all USD students. It will offer effective techniques for conceptualizing, shooting, and post-production documentaries with a distinct voice, compelling storylines, and engaging themes. Students will learn to conduct and shoot interviews, how to illustrate content and the basics of digital editing.
“Students now have access to technology that enables them to capture images cheaply, but this documentary workshop will provide them more structure and about what it means to utilize images good enough to get their message across,” Moran said.
Following the workshop, Wednesday’s films include six short documentary films by local San Diego college students, a filmmaking panel and a screening of “A Better Life,” which earned actor Demián Bichir Academy Award and Screen Actors Guild nominations in its respective best actor categories.
“It’s not just about watching a movie,” Moran said. “Being in a university setting, we want Border Film Week to be about education, reflection and the context of the films. We want to infuse it with opportunities for students to participate in cultural dialogue and for those who might be thinking about filmmaking in the border region.”
On Tuesday, Issac Artenstein, a USD visiting professor and filmmaker whose work includes “Break or Dawn,” “A Day Without a Mexican,” “Ballad of an Unsung Hero,” and “Tijuana Jews” will do a 6 p.m. lecture/discussion in Warren Auditorium with excerpts from his work. Clips from documentaries directed by Artenstein and others will be used to illustrate and discuss relevant topics and strategies in Wednesday’s workshop.
Monday’s opening night film at 6 p.m. is “Miss Bala,” nominated for Best Motion Picture in the foreign language film category at this year’s Satellite Awards. Jose Yenque, who plays Kike Camara in the movie, is expected to attend.
Thursday’s 5 p.m. film screening is 2008’s “Presunto Culpable,” a documentary made by two young Mexican who are attempting to exonerate a man who has been wrongly accused. Through the process, the directors, Roberto Hernández and Geoffrey Smith, expose the contradictions of a judicial system that presumes the accused as a guilty until proven innocent.
Moran said Thursday’s film provides an opportunity to also discuss the work being done by TBI and, specifically, its Justice in Mexico project.
Furthermore, Moran, as USD’s representative to the Binational Association of Schools of Communication (BINACOM), “an organization devoted to cross-border interaction and demystifying stereotypes through ethical communication” has helped turn Border Film Week into a binational event.
Films shown at USD will also be shown this week at a Border Film Week event at Tijuana’s Universidad Iberoamericana, providing another example of TBI working closely with Mexico, in this case, with an educational colleague.
— Ryan T. Blystone