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NMSU filmmaker wins 'Centennial' award for movie

A screen-writing instructor in the Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University has won the New Mexico Centennial Award for her film that aims to humanize the complexities of the U.S.-Mexico border. "Red Mesa," won best New Mexican film during the Taos Shortz Film Festival held March 1-4.



Ilana Lapid, a screen-writing instructor in the Creative Media Institute at New Mexico State University, won the New Mexico Centennial Award for her film, "Red Mesa," during the Taos Shortz Film Festival held March 1-4. (Courtesy photo)

"The big challenge for me was to tell a human story, that wasn't a political story, that wasn't ideological or trying to hit the audience over the head with anything, but just the realities of the border" said Ilana Lapid, the film's creator.

The 17-minute film is a coming-of-age story about a young woman living with her grandfather along the U.S.-Mexico border when she begins a forbidden relationship with an undocumented worker from a nearby ranch. Seventeen-year-old Lynn, is torn between the love she feels for her grandfather and the Mexican laborer. Ultimately, she must make a difficult choice that results in a tragic set of circumstances.

"She has to decide what borders she's willing to cross," Lapid said. "It really explores the complexities of the border, as I understand it."

Shot at Corralitos Ranch, just west of Las Cruces, the film was based on previous experiences for Lapid.

"I grew up in a lot of border regions," she said. "I lived in Israel and Canada, in Ottawa, along the border with the U.S., so I've always been interested in border issues and the ways in which things are often not black or white along borders. Borders can often be places of intersections and unlikely meetings between people from different worlds."

The film was a master's of fine arts thesis project for Lapid as a graduate student in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California. She made it in collaboration with NMSU's Creative Media Institute, the Film Technician Training Program and with support for the New Mexico Film Office and the New Mexico State Office of the Governor.

Lapid currently teaches history of cinema, screenwriting and cinema review at NMSU. On March 13, she began teaching the CMI/SOC mini semester course, "Border Cinema Around the World."

Lapid has made 11 other short films, and she's screened her two most recent films at various national and international film festivals. She hopes "Red Mesa" will be made available for download on iTunes in the near future.

To view a trailer of the film, visit http://www.redmesamovie.com/.