“Soledad” a strong debut for first time filmmakers

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[dropcap]W[/dropcap]riters and directors Eduardo Maytorena and Wayne Mitchell morphed a dream into reality by making it a family affair. All hands were on deck for their first film, “Soledad,” which made its debut at the 31st Chicago Latino Film Festival.

This film was a labor of love among lifetime and college friends who are even more like family now after post-production. Jesse Celedon and Eduardo Maytorena ventured into Los Angeles at a young age with the dream of making movies. Although the dream was on hold, it was never forgotten.

“Leap and the net will appear. So many things came together,” shared Maytorena regarding their meager budget of $100,000. The team not only churned out a great film complete with top-notch cinematography, an original music score by composer Liam O’Brien and stellar acting, but it surpassed even its creators’ expectations, resulting in a fresh, thought-provoking and original story.

In real life, Celedon, who plays the lead as “Victor,” dedicates his days to working in a group home in Bakersfield, Calif., helping troubled teens. “Soledad” is his first step into the acting world, yet his performance is anything but amateur. As “Victor,” his rough exterior is undoubtedly breached by the emotions of his past. “The thing about memories is…you have to have the experiences first,” he said, perfectly bringing the layers of his character to life.

The character of Victor, a limousine driver with a criminal record and a guarded demeanor, finds things take a turn for the worst when he rescues Raquel (Montana Gilis), his passenger, from being raped by Preston (Chase Austin), her prom date. The night is a roller coaster of emotions and events, taking both Victor and Raquel out of their comfort zones, yet discovering so much about themselves in the process.

Maytorena said, “The genesis of the movie came during a camping trip. Jesse and I took our daughters into the Sequoias. We were driving with the windows down and the radio off. I was taking it all in. Jesse was just so comfortable in that loneliness. He goes camping by himself sometimes. In that solitude, the moment struck me like it was really sad, and it resonated with me—the sadness and the loneliness. So I thought, how do we make the new “Taxi Driver” (1976, with Robert Deniro), using a car as the metaphor for loneliness?” intimated Maytorena.

Celedon, who also co-produced the film, said he immersed himself in his role by doing like one of his favorite actors. “Pacino goes and lives in the neighborhood. Fortunately for me, I got to live where Victor lives..where Victor hibernates. I was able to speak to and consult with somebody who did time at Soledad,” he shared, referring to the California prison. “We talked about being in solitude and being by himself,” he added.

“He got stabbed in the back at one time with a pencil because a kid didn’t get ice cream,” shared Mitchell about Celedon’s experiences at the group home. “People keep making the same mistakes because they are more familiar with the mistake,” he added regarding Celedon’s character in the film.

“But at the end of the night, the kid apologized. What that shows is heart, it shows regress,” said Celedon. “There are other ways to deal with situations, and you don’t need violence,” he shared. “In the end, the bad guy got his, but not in a way he was accustomed to,” added Mitchell.

“Soledad” will surprise viewers with its intense scenes and unexpected turns. “In the end I don’t believe in bad people,” said Maytorena about the different characters. No doubt it is also a metaphor for the spirit of camaraderie between all those involved in this excellent production. For more information, visit www.Soledadmovie.com.

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