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Palm Springs

The Palm Springs International Film Festival played host to a fabulous array of movies and movie stars. The Festival featured a stellar line-up of more than 175 films from 60 countries, special events and gala receptions. 

The Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films has become known world-wide for the extraordinary community of filmmakers it attracts, and for the quality and scope of its programming. This celebrated event is the largest festival of its kind in America, showcasing over 320 short films each year from more than 40 countries, with a library of more than 2700 films available to film buyers, industry and press in the Film Market running concurrently with the Festival.


Interview With Iana Simeonov & Michael Winokur On SELLING ROSARIO (2015)

SELLING ROSARIO (2015) by Iana Simeonov & Michael Winokur @ Palm Springs International Shorfest

SELLING ROSARIO (2015) by Iana Simeonov & Michael Winokur @ Palm Springs International Shorfest.

Synopsis: A family of migrant workers send their 12-year-old daughter and her outlaw cousin into the night on the promise of a stranger. Selling Rosario tells the story of a young girl growing up in a migrant labor camp and her parents' risky plan to get her out of an unsafe, squalid environment. They believe almost any place else would be better for her to grow up. We meet Rosario and her family on the day this plan will either succeed or fail.


In a recent interview with Iana and Michael about their film, here is what they had to say:


What made you want to tell the story about someone being nearly or almost sold for money?

Actually, from our point of view that's not the movie we were making. Of course the fear of human trafficking is the story the audience initially follows, but the real movie is about what parents will do for the future of their children, especially when their own future is uncertain. A common story for first generation immigrants. We set out to use stereotypes of Latinos as gangsters and drug dealers - we see these in movies all the time - to carry along a false narrative while simultaneously developing the story's true narrative. No spoilers here, you'll have to see the film to know Rosario's fate.

Were you inspired by a personal story or news?

Iana and I were working on public service announcements for the State of California. We were shooting on a farm in the Central Valley when we saw a small building with an eviction notice taped to the door. As we explored the building, we quickly realized it was a migrant worker camp. Everyone had recently been removed by the police and signs of their interrupted lives were strewn about like archaeological evidence. Blankets over the windows turned the hot Central Valley sun pink, Pepsi chilled in the fridge, a bible lay open on a cot and a makeshift altar watched over the empty room. We wondered who had been here and what dreams had brought them to this place. We imagined a young girl and her parents' hope for her future.

With all the debatable immigration issues happening today and with many people actually selling themselves for money, are you hopeful for a brighter future?

We are romantics. We wanted to make a film about hope and how it exists everywhere and for everyone.

Do you think you will turn this into a feature?

We are actively working on a feature script about Rosario. The feature is not so much of a version of the short as the short is a vignette of this world where the feature takes place.

What was your experience at PSSFF and how were the responses to this film?

PSSF was an amazing experience for us. We saw beautiful films from all over the world and met brilliant filmmakers. Each short we watched was a lesson in storytelling. In a short, it's really easy to see the talented writers and directors because they accomplish so much with so little, sometimes moving a story along with just an actor's eye movement. You learn that every second of screen time is precious. The responses from audiences and filmmakers to Selling Rosario have been really positive and supportive. Although we've won jury and audience awards at multiple festivals, I still get nervous every time we show our film. We ask a lot of the audience, so there's always a voice in my head asking "are they with me".

What are your plans next for this film and for future projects?

Each project for us is a new challenge and has its own lessons. We have two shorts and a feature in development now. Our goal is to tell Rosario's story in a feature film which can reach an audience beyond film festivals.

SELLING ROSARIO (2015) by Iana Simeonov & Michael Winokur @ Palm Springs International Shorfest

SELLING ROSARIO (2015) by Iana Simeonov & Michael Winokur @ Palm Springs International Shorfest

SELLING ROSARIO (2015) by Iana Simeonov & Michael Winokur @ Palm Springs International Shorfest

The trailer is here: 

Interview by Vanessa McMahon