Student to showcase short film at Cannes Film Fest in France

Leo+Aguirre%2C+creator+of+the+short+film+%E2%80%9CEl+Fuego+Detr%C3%A1s%E2%80%9D+will+be+making+a+trip+to+France+for+the+Cannes+Film+Festival+in+May.+

Michaela Roman

Leo Aguirre, creator of the short film “El Fuego Detrás” will be making a trip to France for the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Helen Yip, Staff Reporter

What started as a weekend project will now take UTEP student Leo Aguirre to one of the most profound film festivals in the world.

Aguirre is only 19 years old, and his short film “El Fuego Detrás” will be screened at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival in May. This is a huge step for the El Paso native.

“El Fuego Detrás” is about a young immigrant woman who is oppressed by her abusive father. A violent crime is committed and her path abruptly crosses with her neighbor, who is a suicidal writer. The story develops as the two lost souls develop a friendship.

The film will be presented outside of the actual competition, but it will showcase in an arena that will allow Aguirre to speak to professionals, collaborators and investors.

Aguirre was born and raised in El Paso and is a sophomore with an undecided major. He has been making short films since he was 16 years old, and all films have been featured in a festival.

He didn’t expect to be nominated at Cannes.

“I just sent it in, I took a shot in the dark and submitted it for Cannes,” he said. “We weren’t expecting it to get as far as it did.”

This nomination means a lot to Aguirre because he believes the film promotes El Paso, but the lack of a film industry in the community also adds to the movie.

“To be able to go to Cannes with a film shot here, with actors from here, means a great deal to the cast and crew and to the community as well,” he said.

Aguirre’s passion for filmmaking began at an early age. He said he originally wanted to be an actor, but discovered he was happier behind the camera.

“I found out that storytelling was a big part of me,” Aguirre said. “My grandparents are also really great storytellers, so ever since I was little it’s been a passion of mine…I thought of (cinema) as a visual medium to tell stories.”

Aguirre, along with Brian Ceely, freshman theater arts major, wrote the film in one day.

“We wrote the script in a day, edited it in two days, put the crew together in three days and shot it in three days,” Ceely said.

Ceely is 21 and has written a novel called “Mouth of the Wicked.”

“I’ve got to give it to Leo, he’s got a lot of drive and a one-track mind,” Ceely said. “Leo has made short films before, which are quite good, and I was so happy to work with him.”

Aguirre will be leaving for Austin in the fall. He is part of the Coordinated Admission Program. CAP is a program that allows freshman applicants at University of Texas at Austin to spend their freshman year at any UT System school. Once the CAP requirements are met, the student then transfers to UT Austin to complete their undergraduate studies.

While attending UT Austin, Aguirre plans to continue his career path as a screenwriter and film director. He also hopes to direct commercials as a career on the side.

“Attending Cannes will help me make the proper connections to attain financing for future projects,” he said.

“El Fuego Detrás” will be screened at 6 p.m. April 19 at the Union Cinema. The screening will also present Aguirre’s last film “Back and Beyond” and will help finance his trip to France.

“We are asking for donations–so anything you can give would
be appreciated.”

Michaela Roman contributed to this story.

Helen Yip may be reached at [email protected]