TAKING FLIGHT, 11min., USA
Directed by Will Chehab
In an area where traditional education fails students, one Mayan woman starts her own school in order to rebuild her community from the ground up. Through er integral education, which includes meals for students and workshops for their parents, Ingrid Villasenor strengthens her home of Panajachel one step at a time.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
My motivation to make this film came from my desire to learn how to tell a good story through documentary. I'm currently a senior at the University of Michigan, and when looking for what to do over the summer, I saw an email from the department about making a documentary in Guatemala with Actuality Abroad. I signed up, interviewed, and was lucky enough to get in. Actuality Abroad set us (the crew) up with Tejiendo Futuros. What motivated me to tell Ingrid's story specifically was the fact that she dedicates herself to her people, to her country, after her country's government kidnapped her father whom she never saw again. The fact that Ingrid services her community after what happened to her family is powerful and incredible, and I knew right away that this was a story to tell. I really wanted to make sure that I did everything I possibly could to tell it right, and to be honest, there's so much more to the story I want to explore and highlight because it is much more incredible than what we were able to capture in our four weeks in Guatemala.
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
This film took us four weeks and a few days from start to finish. Actuality Abroad is a four week program where we find the story, shoot the documentary, and edit it. After the program ended and we had our first cut, I spent a few days back home in Evanston, Illinois finishing the edit to finalize the film.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The biggest obstacle our team faced was the span of time to tell this story. There's truly so much to it, and so much we had to cut from the documentary in order to keep it around 10 minutes, but really to tell a coherent story that highlights Ingrid, who she is, and what she does. Our whole crew kept saying that we wish we had more time to tell the full story, and I hope one day we soon find ourselves back in Panajachel making the feature length version of this documentary.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I truly cannot believe that not only was the time taken out of their day for the audience to watch this film, but for them to record their reactions and share it. It fills my heart with gratitude and joy that people really care about this film we made over the summer. I'm still a 21 year old student, I never thought at this point I would have people care this much about the movies I make, the stories I tell. It's surreal, and it motivates me to continue making an impact with my movies. I can't thank everyone enough who reacted.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I knew for sure at around age 8 that this is what I wanted to do, when I took my parents flip video camera and recorded action movies with my little brother and our friends in the park across the street. I'm lucky I found my passion so young, because it's really allowed me to give my all and to learn so much so early in my life.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Trading Places. My family watches it every year during the holidays. After that, I think it's Rushmore, my favorite movie.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
This festival has done a ton, so first off thank you. The one thing that I think could be helpful is connecting directors, producers, cinematographers, anyone involved in making these films with each other, so we can make new connections and if we're lucky, team up to tell even greater stories.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
Abby, the producer of the film, did all the submissions, and said they were easy.
10. What is your favorite meal?
A grilled whole lobster, a side of perfectly cooked vegetables, an ear of corn with butter, and ice cream for dessert.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
I'm currently working on a senior independent study film at the University of Michigan about a Jewish student who falls for a Palestinian student on campus.
Those are my answers. Again, thank you! I'd love to set up a time for the podcast interview, and if possible, to include Abby on the interview.