DREAMer life depicted in new film, Cartoneo & Nopalitos

Directed by Pablo Veliz and starring Mayra Alejandra, Pedro Castañeda, Tom Lagleder and Alfredo Lomeli.

Carla is one of millions of young Latinas who form the permanent U.S. sub-culture of the children of undocumented workers. Growing up in the U.S.—“the other side”, in the common parlance of Mexicans,  she is “neither from here nor there,” her life enmeshed in an uneasy truce between mutually dependent peoples.

As a young child, Carla aspires to become a physician, hoping one day to cure her beloved but chronically ill grandfather. Her dream is encouraged by her family’s simple, powerful love as she moves from one academic victory to the next. Yet her family’s legal status—and their hardscrabble efforts to get out of a meager existence—anchors Carla to a fading past even as she forges toward an expectant future. Full of fire and hope after college graduation, Carla faces full force the consequences of her legal status, and her vision of medical school is soon abandoned.

As Carla navigates these new and treacherous waters of disappointment, her story occasionally glances off that of Krupa, an Indian girl escaping a painful personal event. In the story’s climax, their very separate experiences fully intersect in a single moment of forgiveness and redemption.

These are the children of the DREAM Act. And it is for them that writer and director Pablo Veliz (director of La Tragedia de Macario, Sundance 2006 Official Selection) creates this timeless story of the immigrant’s relentless pursuit of dreams that seemingly lie just beyond reach.

Director Pablo Veliz wrote the story based on the struggle of his sister, Benny Veliz, who is the face of the DREAMer movement. A group of activists pushing for the enactment of the DREAM Act. Benny is also a blogger in Contacto Latino (Living in Limbo).

Cartoneo & Nopalitos, Cardboard Dreams in English, is the third movie from Veliz drawing on the narrative of immigrants in the United States. The movie will be in theaters spring of 2011. Cartoneo & Nopalitos was awarded the Special Jury Prize at Cinefestival 2011.

Writer and Director Pablo Veliz graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a degree in communication. At age 22, Véliz wrote, directed, produced, and edited his first feature film, La Tragedia de Macario, which was selected in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and several other prestigious festivals. Later that year, Laguna Films in Los Angeles acquired the award winning film for North and South American distribution. Today, Veliz is recognized as a promising director from San Antonio and as a leader in the community of cinema bringing jobs for both cast and crew with a constant and impressive production of feature films. All of Veliz’s films have US and international distribution. Other titles associated with Veliz are The Boys of Ghost Town, 7 Kilos, Clemente and Double Dagger.

Veliz recalls that his first film was funded by him at a little over $7K and that attending Sundance cost about the same. He says that filming in Los Angeles, with a crew and budget, was “the coolest time of my life.” He says execution of the art form, directing the film, is the part he likes the most about making movies; securing funding and distribution, what he likes least.

A true artist, not a trained filmmaker, Veliz says it is highly unlikely he will continue doing films. “As an artist, I want to try new things. I stayed in film for a while longer, maybe due to recognition. But I’m hungry to try new things, maybe go back to furniture-making, expressing art that way,” he says.

Veliz says that what he likes to bring to life in the big screen are the stories about extraordinary human beings: common folks that against all odds, and knowing that most likely will fail, choose to continue. “Someone like a student, who knows that after college she may not be able to do anything with that degree… That shows me someone with extreme determination and courage.”

If he were to make another film, Veliz says he is undetermined at this time regarding the subject. “Cartoneo & Nopalitos was totally inspired by the valor my sister has. So for me to do another film, I need to be equally inspired by something else,” the young filmmaker declares.

“Every time I watch people watching my films and I see them holding back tears, or they come up to me and they tell me they won’t give up their dream, I know I have made an impact,” Veliz says.

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