By Ariana Renteria
The lecture hall at the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College begins to crowd up with students, alumni and guests of all ages.
The room is dim as chatter resonates throughout a large screen hanging from the wall at the front of the room. A woman walks in handing out postcard-sized flyers of the latest Echo Park up and coming feature film “Mamitas”. Written and directed by Nicholas Ozeki, “Mamitas” initially began as a short film while Ozeki was in grad school and gradually made its way to debuting as a full-length feature film.
The movie was shot entirely in Echo Park by the Los Angeles area. As the lights go down, the crowd settles in and the film begins to play on the blank screen.
Immediately the attention is directed to high school teen, Jordin played by E.J. Bonilla, as he chats with a friend regarding a group of girls across the school gym. The audience can be heard whispering comments and laughing as Jordin spits out swagger with his cocky words.
From that moment the audience is captivated and, for the next hour and 50 minutes, laughter and sympathetic sighs are heard throughout the film.
Humor was a nice addition to the film’s tagline, “You never know who will change your life forever.” The main character Jordin finds himself in many life-changing situations after meeting a not so typical sassy and intelligent girl, Felipa, played by Veronica Diaz-Carranza.
As the movie plays out, the audience is taken through a very natural journey alongside Jordin and his struggles. Unlike other teen movies, this particular film not only explores the romantic aspect of two teenagers, it also depicts the struggles and successes of life, love and discovery.
As the film comes to an end, sounds of applause echo throughout the small lecture hall. The director and the two main characters appear for a series of questions and answers from the audience.
For about 20 minutes the audience laughed and learned as their questions were answered. E.J. Bonilla put it very universally, commenting on the fact that the film, while being composed of all Hispanic characters, is not a movie only for the Hispanic demographic.
He said that the themes within the movie are relatable to people of all cultures. ELAC student Leanne Varroso, found the film to be very inspiring: “I thought it was a great film with a very personal message for all minorities out there.
“Not everyone gets an opportunity to have a friend like Felipa, who encourages you to try your best out there. I really enjoyed it.”
While most movies focus on drugs, sex and comedies about partying, this film confidently explores the possibility of reaching out to a crowd and making them believers of change.
“I think it’s a movie that should be in the theaters,” ELAC student Erika Alvarez said. “Instead of having violence and sex in movies, there should be something more inspiring for students.
“For high school students, especially those that are trying to go to college, this film may encourage students and change their mind about furthering their education,” Alvarez said. I think this movie should be everywhere not just in LA.”
Although “Mamitas” will only show in select theaters in Southern California, the creators, cast and crew have hopes that eventually it will make its way to movie theaters and people all over the world.