Mexican director and writer, Alonso Alvarez Barreda, visited NC State on Monday following an invitation from Enita Galindo Croasmun, a lecturer in the Department of Communication.
Born in Mexico City, the director spent his childhood in Tampico in southern Tamaulipas, Mexico. After being rejected by the film schools to which he applied, Alvarez was given the opportunity to follow his quest to be a filmmaker with the help of his mentor, Alejandro Monteverde.
Monteverde is also an acclaimed Mexican director known for his film Bella which took the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006.
Without an official background in cinematographic studies, Alvarez was initially at a disadvantage.
“I always felt broken, I felt like I was not good enough to go to film school,” Alvarez said.
Despite his difficulties, Alvarez came to the United States six years ago after receiving awards for his short film, The Story of a Signboard, and has since written and helped produce films with support from Monteverde.
“Sometimes talent is not enough, you need someone who believes in that talent,” Alvarez said.
During the event, which took place in Winston Hall Monday night, Alvarez presented four of his works and talked about his upcoming project, The Wingwalker. The last short film he presented, The Catch, which was written in collaboration with Disney Channel actor David Henrie, had not previously been presented to the public and was a part of a prescreening event.
Story of a Signboard was named the best short film at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007. With only a wheelchair, a skateboard and a simple camera, Alvarez created a story in which the power of words and mercy can change the life of a poor man.
The film was about a blind man who asked for money to survive with only the aid of a cardboard sign. However, when a wealthy young businessman changes the sign’s message from “have mercy I’m blind,” to “today is a beautiful day and I cannot see it,” the poor beggar begins to receive more donations without knowing why.
The Discovery, the short film recipient of Mexico’s Humanitarian Award, was also shown for the N.C. State audience. It was about a boy and his father left alone after the death of the wife and mother respectively.
The father turns to alcohol while the child looks for ways to prevent them from losing everything they have.
The audience was transported to the 18th century with Crescendo, where the director explores the frightening idea of a world without the composer Ludwig van Beethoven.
The dialogue of the film was in German although the leading actress was Colombian. Crescendo was the winner of 16 international awards and was nominated for an Oscar. Moving away from his comfort zone, Alvarez said he knew the film would be a challenge but would have the potential to be very successful.
“We were a bunch of Mexicans making a German film,” Alvarez said. “It was very interesting for me.”
Alvarez continues to work on his next production which is scheduled to be released in 2015.