Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

RTF Assistant Professor, Director reflects on Sundance Premier, path towards filmmaking

Chidozie Abuachi
Assistant Professor Iliana Sosa stands in front of a mural in Austin’s South Congress neighborhood on Feb. 5, 2024.

Film director and radio-television-film assistant professor Iliana Sosa premiered her latest directorial work at Sundance Film Festival 2024. One of the three mini-documentaries in an anthology for HBO, “God Save Texas: La Frontera” examines the identities and cultures of people living on the border. Sosa spoke with The Daily Texan about her experience at Sundance and the meaning behind her work.

DT: How was your experience at Sundance?

IS: It was exhausting, but it was awesome. It’s very different going there with a film versus just going to watch films. When I came on board with “God Save Texas,” HBO was already our distributor. It’s a very different process going through that versus going with a film that doesn’t yet have distribution. 

DT: Is having a personal connection to your projects important when there’s a message being presented?

IS: Absolutely. The beauty of (“God Save Texas”) is that (each director) intimately knows their hometowns better than someone who’s been there a week. I’m from El Paso, born and raised … and I have a deep connection to that region. It’s a complicated place and Texas is a complicated state, but I feel like our stories, being from here … we understand the complexity of it all, and who better than us to talk about it right?

DT: When you think of El Paso, what do you think of mostly?

IS: What makes El Paso so special and sets it apart (is that) El Paso is very different from the rest of Texas. … I love the biculturalism of the city. I’m trying to explain in this episode that El Paso and Juárez, sure they’re separated by the fence, but we’re also very connected, not only culturally, but physically. … People there have really embraced that complexity … and the community has come out and supported the migrants. 

DT: What or who inspired you to pursue filmmaking?

IS: I didn’t grow up thinking I could be a filmmaker.  A lot of filmmakers say they had a camera when they were little, but my parents didn’t have that ability. I always had to translate for them when I was younger. It wasn’t until I went to college that I had this amazing professor …  Dr. Daniel Castro. He was a  professor of Latin American history at Southwestern University, and he showed films like Central Station, Pixote, … cinema that I had never been exposed to other cinema that opened my eyes in such a beautiful way. … He encouraged me to apply to film school (in) UCLA.

DT: Any advice to the readers during these changing times? 

IS: I think you have to believe in yourself. … Carve your path, make mistakes, get rejected; it’s a lot of that, but that’s not to say it should stop you. …We’re in such a pivotal time with everything going on in the world. It’s important to find your tribe and be unapologetic about who you are.You have the power and authorship of your own story. No one else owns that story, but you. It’s important for you to express that and not let anyone tell you otherwise.

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