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Directing Dynamo

Directing DynamoSelectedfrom more than 160 entries, a Tufts graduate won HBO's First AnnualLatino Filmmaker Competition –earning an opportunity to premiere his short film. NewYork.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [07.19.04] Carlos Gutierrez may be coming to a theater near you. After winning first place in HBO's first annual Latino Film Festival, the Tufts graduate will premiere his work at the upcoming New York Latino Independent Film Festival. His film - which beat out more than 160 others to win a $15,000 HBO grant to bring it to the big screen - is the latest project for Gutierrez, who credits Tufts faculty with his initial foray into filmmaking.

"My Tufts experience was fantastic due mostly to the help of two people at school: Howard Woolf and Susan Eisenhauer," Gutierrez - who majored in Spanish literature with a minor in Communications and Media Studies - told Tufts E-News. "The both helped me during the development of a documentary which would end up becoming my honors thesis project."

The Tufts graduate, a native of Miami whose parents are both Cuban, cited his Latin culture as a primary influence on his writing.

"My parents both had traumatic experiences leaving Cuba and thus leaving their homes," Gutierrez - who is currently pursuing an MFA in film directing at New York University - told E-News. "This has influenced me to gravitate to stories that are about the loss of innocence and that speak to the nostalgic spirit in us all."

His prizewinning script, "Lechón"- which literally means "pork"- shares these themes. The film tells the story of a boy who accidentally wanders into the home of an old pig butcher and asks what he does for a living.

"Once he does find out, the boy realizes he's seen too much and realizes he cannot look at the world the same anymore," Gutierrez told E-News of his film, which shares some autobiographical truth.

While Gutierrez said there is no prejudice in Hollywood against Latino filmmakers or writers, they don't always have the freedom to explore their cultural roots in their work.

"The problems arise when a Latino filmmaker wants to make a film about a Latino experience," Gutierrez told E-News. "Like many films in Hollywood, the more general an audience the story can appeal to, the better its chances of getting made and distributed."

The Tufts graduate - who is currently developing two feature scripts while working on his NYU thesis film - say he is hopeful about the future of Latino filmmakers.

"Eventually there will be a Latino film made by a Latino filmmaker that shatters all box-office records and opens the door for a whole plethora of other Latino filmmakers," Gutierrez told E-News. "Once you prove yourself, doors tend to open up for you - no matter what your culture."

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