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​Oscar de Leon: In the ‘Wake’ of greatness

Cinema | December 4th, 2020

By Jillian Finkelson

jsfinkelson99@gmail.com

Oscar de Leon has been making films locally for years. His latest project has been nominated for the Exceptional Artistry Award.In his own words, Oscar tells HPR about the project and its journey to the film festival.

“Haylee Thompson (who runs Rethink) and her best friend David Triptow (who is the choreographer on the film) reached out to me about making a film for the festival and we started talking about ideas and influences to really find common ground. I’ve always loved dance films and golden age musicals so I was on board to try something I’d never done before.

“We were in the thick of the pandemic while planning and really didn’t know whether or not we could make a film. We knew it had to reflect both the current situation and also the same feelings we all had come to realize independently of each other. The grinding halt of the pandemic allowed us to step back and reprioritize our need to express ourselves as artists and step out of the every-man-for-himself hustle of the business world. In essence, we had come to realize that we had an opportunity to re-engage with the spiritual inclinations of art expression which becomes hallowed out by the constant grind of working for things that we don’t actually care about.

“Without explaining too much about what the film represents, we saw that nature was a perfect metaphor for coming back to something pure. The emotional spine of the film is communicated by David’s choreography which in itself is an expression of those feelings mentioned above.

“I, in particular, was very inspired by the work of Terrance Malick and Wong Kar Wai. In addition to that, the more we built the film the more it reminded me of the turn of the century films of Georges Millies. Everything we poured into WAKE creates a really interesting, expressive, and emotional film which I’m happy to say has connected with people at a deep level. It’s been great to hear everyone’s interpretation of it which is why I’m a little cagey about getting too specific about the actual “meaning”. I hope it’s something people can watch and be absorbed by.

“After our screening, it came time to look for which festivals to submit to and I remembered that, a couple of years prior, I had received a very nice email from the Official Latino Film & Art Festival that rejected my film that year. They told me to submit the next time I had something so I did. When I reached out to them, they had closed all submissions but upon seeing our film, they not only let us in - they put us directly into the festival and put us in competition with the other great films on the slate. I was blown away and it’s been a great experience being able to be a part of it.”


The film will be available November 27th-30th virtually here: https://bit.ly/38Up9av

“Wake” is part of “Block 5”. It’ll be available for all to see within that time period. You can vote for “Wake” to win the Exceptional Artistry award.

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