El Paso filmmaker writes and shoots film in the Borderland

El Paso News

A born and raised El Pasoan hopes to raise awareness of the film industry in El Paso with upcoming film, I See a Darkness.

After living and working in New York City for 15 years, filmmaker and founder of production company, Cenntenial Films, returned to El Paso to write and shoot his feature film. 

During development, he assembled a cast and crew from El Paso and Ciudad-Juarez who shared his artistic vision.

“It’s a dual city really, not one thing or the other and how we are connected to each other economically as well as creatively,” Arrabito said.

The decision to shoot locally was important to Arrabito. He said after making films in New York, he learned from other filmmakers and their mentors. 

“Go home, go home and make films,” Arrabito said. “There’s enough people in these big cities but there’s not enough people in smaller town or smaller cities that are exploring stuff there.”

I See a Darkness is about a photographer who works for a commercial agency but is dissatisfied doing that and wants to be a photographer.

Arrabito says the movie was inspired by artists and those who want to work on personal creations while trying to survive and balance work and still do what they love at the same time. 

In addition to growing a film industry in El Paso, Arrabito says the film is important to the region by helping to control the narrative of life on the U.S.- Mexico border.

I See a Darkness focuses on a photographer going through a life-altering change, and his story just happens to be in a border city.

Arrabito says this is important especially with the attention the border and its security has gotten recently by President Trump’s declaration for a border wall. 

“The collaboration of film is important because we are just looking to create films to tell stories, human stories,” Arrabito said. “Our goal as artists is to basically exploit what it is to be human, to study that regardless of nationality or anything like that anf I think the border wall kind of inhibits that creativity.”

Arrabito says the film helps create an empathy for struggling artists that don’t fit into a mainstream ideology of art. The binational cast and crew consists of underrepresented artists from race, gender and class.

Coming together to create a film focusing on artists’ struggles illustrates the strong connection between the U.S. and Mexico.

“I thought it would just be great to make the kinds of films I’m interested in making on the border and this is my home so might as well just make it here,” Arrabito said.

The filmmaker said thousands of people from the El Paso and Ciudad-Juarez live a binational life, crossing the border daily for work, school, shopping and visiting family. The neighboring cities and their people are so culturally connected, it often feels like one big city.

With this film, he also hopes to expand and raise awareness of the film industry in the Borderland. 

“Just getting the word out that we’re a great place to make films, we’re ready to make films, the crews are here, the artists are here, the actors are here, we can do this.”

The release date for I See a Darkness is still to be determined but a recent fundraiser has helped get the film into the post-production phase.

Following editing, Arrabito hopes to enter the film in top-tier film festivals such as Sundance or SXSW Film Festival here in the United States, or European festivals such as the Festival de Cannes. 

To learn more about Arrabito and his film I See a Darkness, click here. 

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