Under the Strawberry Sun IN DEVELOPMENT
The personal experiences of Teresa, who is transported from childhood into the world of sex slavery and unimaginable danger. A story of hope, endurance, and the resiliency of the human spirit. The emotional power of this story lies within the brutal yet beautifully moving stories of survivors of human trafficking.
NEW FEATURE SCREENPLAY BY WRITER/DIRECTOR JOEL JUAREZ EARNS
SLOT IN PRESTIGIOUS INTERNATIONAL FILM FEST SEARCH FOR PROJECTS
BAJO EL SOL DE FRESAS (UNDER THE STRAWBERRY SUN) selected by
VIII Ibero-American Co-production Meeting as part of the Guadalajara International Film Festival
The Industry section of the 27th Annual Guadalajara International Film Festival is pleased to announce that the new narrative feature written by Joél Juárez is among the 30 film projects slated for inclusion at the VIII Ibero-American Coproduction Meeting scheduled from March 4th through 6th, 2012 during the "the most important cinematographic event in Latin America."
A recent addition to the festival program, the Co-production Meeting is designed to bring projects in development closer to global industry professionals, international financing funds and producers seeking co-production opportunities, as well as buyers and world-wide sales agents. The Co-production Meeting invites emerging filmmakers with viable projects in development to the Guadalajara fest for one-on-one meetings with potential partners and co-producers from throughout Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula.
“It’s an incredible honor to present my screenplay at such an exclusive gathering,” says Juárez, an MFA graduate in Directing from the UCLA School of Film & Television, where his thesis film, PELEA DE GALLOS (THE COCK FIGHT), earned him a second Director’s Guild of America Student Award. According to Juárez, UNDER THE STRAWBERRY SUN takes a hard look at the reality of sex slavery through the first-hand experience of a teen-aged girl named Teresa, ripped from childhood into a world of unimaginable terror. An international story about the resiliency of the human spirit, she survives an epic sojourn through the world of illegal human trafficking.
“It’s my second feature-length film as a writer and director,” explains Juárez. “Two years ago, at a UN conference in New York, I witnessed testimony from a survivor of sexual slavery. Her story haunted me and moved me so much, I felt compelled to share her journey and eventual triumph.” While researching the project, Juárez interviewed both slavery survivors and their therapists. He met with members of the nation’s first-ever sex slave investigation team in San Diego, California, and he traveled to several villages in Mexico that have been targeted by human traffickers to speak directly with families whose children had been lost to the criminals who prey on innocent young women with promises of a better life in the U.S.
“My script is based on the stories I collected from survivors of sexual slavery, and it unfolds through the eyes of a vibrant young girl coming of age in a rural village near Acapulco, Mexico,” Juárez adds. “Ultimately, it’s the story of Teresa’s endurance, her resilience and her ability to recognize and appreciate beauty in her life despite her horrific experience.
"What's wonderful about Joel’s films is that he creates tone first, and he's very consistent. He gives us something we hardly get to see. He bridges cultures,” says UCLA professor A.P. Gonzalez. Acclaimed filmmaker Wim Wenders describes Under the Strawberry Sun as “an intense yet sensitive and beautiful character study of a young teenager forced into sexual slavery.”
Dubbed an "Auteur-to-watch" by Los Angeles Magazine in 2002, Juárez is a notable talent among a new generation of Latino filmmakers committed to making story-based films with cultural and socio-political relevancy. His debut feature, a futuristic sci-fi thriller titled GENERATION LAST—for example—confronted the issue of global warming head on. At the same time, Juárez has been afforded the opportunity to shadow directors on ‘Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice,” “The Unit,” “Criminal Minds” and “Southland” as part of the DGA Latino Mentorship Program, which gives selected participants the exposure to the professional standards requisite to their chosen craft. There is, according to him, a balance between the commercial entertainment aspects of filmmaking and the need for advocacy and activism on issues that matter. “As filmmakers, we have a responsibility to tell the truth as we see it,” Juárez says. The producers at the Guadalajara International Film Festival obviously agree.
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