watsonville film festival cine se puede fellows
The 2023 Cine Se Puede Fellows were recognized at the Watsonville Film Festival. Photo courtesy of Arts Council Santa Cruz County

WATSONVILLE—The Watsonville Film Festival announced the launch of its 2023 Cine Se Puede Fellowship, a program designed to support emerging Latine filmmakers in the region. 

The fellowship is a year-long program that provides funding, mentorship, industry connections, workshops and master classes, as well as peer support and promotion. Fellows receive cash awards to support their projects and help them realize their potential.

This year’s cohort includes four filmmakers with deep roots in Watsonville, Mexico and the Central Coast.

“We’re engaging award-winning talent with our Cine Se Puede Fellows and showcasing Watsonville and what’s possible when you invest in local creatives,” said Consuelo Alba, co-founder and executive director of the Watsonville Film Festival. “The Cine Se Puede Fellowship is a crucial investment in the future of our community and the art of filmmaking.”

Cine Se Puede was launched at the 10th annual Watsonville Film Festival in 2022, thanks to a grant from the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County’s Rise Together Initiative. Three fellows from the inaugural cohort premiered films at the 2023 Watsonville Film Festival.

The 2023 Cine Se Puede Fellows are all local, emerging filmmakers: Genevieve Rico, Hector Águila, Teotl Veliz and Iggy Figueroa. As cinematographers, filmmakers, writers and documentarians, the Fellows explore themes of grief and loss, joy, cultural pride, struggle and the pursuit of dreams.

Cine Se Puede offers access and personal connections that expand their networks and can jumpstart projects, including meetings with industry members from Netflix, Sundance and PBS, workshops with award-winning filmmakers, and conversations with funders and partners such as SF Film and the Bay Area Video Coalition. Last year’s Fellows also collaborated on various projects, including a short film, three web episodes, two crowdfunding campaigns, and pre-production work with an Oscar-winning team.

At this year’s Film Festival, the 2023 Fellows spent a day with L.A.-based screenwriter and producer Ligiah Villalobos, of the film “Under the Same Moon.” Fellows were also inspired by Carlos Pérez Osorio, award-winning Mexican director of “Los Tigres del Norte: Stories to Tell” and “The Taco Chronicles.” He shared his experiences and insights working with streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon. 

“The Fellowship has organically evolved into a community of local Latine filmmakers. It’s becoming a visible space for outside productions to find local talent,” Alba said. “We are excited to begin this year’s fellowship, and proud to support the Fellows on their journey. We’re excited to be connecting our local filmmaking pipeline that starts in elementary schools, support our emerging filmmakers in their professional career and connect them to the larger film industry.”

A number of Cine Se Puede workshops will be open to local emerging filmmakers this summer. Topics include Fund Your Film Sessions: Crowdfunding/Grants and Fellowships and Build Your Team: Find the Crew and Community for your Project.

To learn more about the Cine Se Puede Fellowship and the Watsonville Film Festival, visit watsonvillefilmfest.org/cine-se-puede.

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