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Extravagant ball-gowns, heartfelt goodbyes and the unavoidable experience of reaching adulthood are just a few of the themes of the UNT Student Film Quince. The independently funded student film won a Jury Special Mention award at the Festival De Cine Latino Americano on Sept. 22 at the America Cinemas in Forth Worth, TX.

The festival showcased and gave awards to Latin American centric films. Quince was a part of UNT’s Short Film Club and was funded through Kickstarter, an online fundraising campaign website.

Quince is a narrative short film about a 15-year-old undocumented citizen from Mexico whose father passes away shortly before her quinceanera. Losing a loved one and coming-of-age are the main themes within the film, Cristina Gonzalez said, who was the director and script-writer of Quince.

Gonzalez said she has been a member of the Short Film Club at UNT for four years and dreamt of working in the film industry. After Quince, she said she would love to work on more Spanish-language films. Quince was loosely based off of one of her best friends growing up who dealt with a similar situation, she said.

The film took a full year to produce and has been shown at three independent film screenings.  Throughout the production, the cast had a few unexpected complications. The Spanish-language film called for a mostly Hispanic cast, Gonzalez said.

“Finding Hispanic actors was way harder than I ever imagined it to be,” Gonzalez said. “But we were lucky, we came across a Hispanic acting group on Facebook.”

Finding actors wasn’t the only complication, said Gonzalez. The quinceanera scene, which was filmed in the UNT’s Union Ballroom, cost $400 to rent for four hours, she said. The crew was also not allowed to bring food in the room, so they had to improvise and find a way to make fake food.

“At first it was like, how does one make a fake cake that looks realistic?” Gonzalez said. “But we actually pulled it off.”

With only four hours to perfectly film the scene, everyone had to be on top of their game, the producer and lead editor of Quince Valarie Gold said. There was no time for rehearsals and they could not afford to rent the ballroom again.

Despite all of the chaos surrounding the quinceanera scene, both Gonzalez and Gold said that it was one of their favorite scenes. Gold said that although the filming process was fun, her favorite thing about making this film was the audiences’ reaction to it.

“I think the best part is seeing everyone after they’ve seen the film” and they’re like, ‘I really connect with that’,” Gold said. “I really felt the message you were trying to get across.”

Although the film dealt with many relatable issues such as death of a loved one, Gold said a larger focus of story was that the main character was an undocumented citizen.

“I think it was relatable is the aspect of family loss, we can all relate to that in some sort of way,” Gold said. “But feeling the barrier of not being able to go to this funeral because we live in a different country and if we were to go to Mexico, we wouldn’t be able to come back because we were undocumented, that whole concept is something people don’t think about if they don’t come from that culture.”

Robert Tagliaferro, vice president of the UNT Short Film Club, said that this film is especially relatable to Hispanic audiences, who often do not get proper representation in the media.

“Sometimes there are simple things that hold back student films,” Tagliaferro said. “But Quince really had everything going for it.”

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