Director Ruben Reyes, a 1988 University of Arizona grad, calls his first feature film, "Pancho Goes to College," a Chicano version of "Animal House." The 41-year-old debuts his film at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Screening Room, 127 E. Congress St.
Admission is $6, and Reyes, who works for Congressman Raúl Grijalva as a district director, will introduce the film and hold a Q&A afterward. He talked to the Star in a phone interview.
DId it take you a long time to make the film?
"It took me about five years to complete. I don't want to say what the budget was, but it was under $25,000."
Tell me about the story.
"Pancho is the first in his family to go to college. He is thinking he can get away from his culture and his poverty background because he has — quote unquote — 'made it' by going to college. However, he has a cultural clash even with his Mexican-American roommates. They teach him that college is actually the beginning of a new struggle."
What are you trying to show with your film?
"It's showing the diversity within the Chicano community. That's just one of the reasons I made it. Chicanos have never been portrayed in the university setting before, at least not in focus. The movie shows the diversity of the students. We're not stereotypical, we're as complex, funny and problematic as anyone else."
What's your plan for getting your film seen?
"I plan to get it distributed worldwide, and show it at as many different festivals as I can. It's already been accepted to the Arizona International Film Festival. I want it shown around the country and especially around the Southwest. I think there's a good chance it can do well in Latin America, all the way up to Spain."
Is film a hobby or a career for you?
"For now it will be a hobby, I think. Another reason I made this film is I had something to say. Most independent filmmakers are not filmmakers by trade. You just have something to say and you use film as the way of saying it."
What audience are you going for?
"It's got universal themes. Anybody who has been to college or has seen 'Animal House' will enjoy it, but it's geared toward the Mexican-American population. It's not politically correct. I tried to be as realistic as I could be, even though it is a comedy."
Is it controversial?
"It's about relevant things on today's campuses that unfortunately have not been making headlines. I don't think it will be controversial. It doesn't have any racy scenes in it or anything like that. I wanted to show the realistic way 18- and 19-year-olds behave. It's not particularly based on my experiences, but some that are mine and some from former roommates in college."
If you're involved in filmmaking and would like to be featured in a Q&A, write to pvillarreal@ azstarnet.com.