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Local filmmaker tells Shoshana Johnson's story at festival

September 22, 2023

Film enthusiasts and creators from all parts of the country will converge in El Paso with their shoot bags filled with viewfinders, light meters and storyboards in preparation of the sixth El Paso Film Festival.

More than 60 new films, including nine features and 51 shorts, will be presented at this year’s festival, set for Sept. 28 to Sept. 30 at the Philanthropy Theatre inside the Plaza Theatre, the El Paso Museum of Art and the El Paso Convention Center.

The festival has grown into one of the largest showcases of indie films in the region.

Festival founder and creative director Carlos Corral said he’s most proud of the role the film festival has had in connecting creators from different regions with one another.

“El Paso is a bridge between Austin and Los Angeles,” Corral said. “People come to the festival and make connections. For example, the film ‘In Tow,’ the director is from Corpus Christi and she met the film’s producers here in El Paso and now the film is premiering here. Industry people come from L.A., New York, Austin and they have a chance to mingle with local filmmakers and help them flourish and grow.”

Another short film making its debut at the El Paso Film Festival is “Grace,” which was written and directed by local filmmaker Diego Lopez. “Grace” tells the true story of one heroic El Pasoan who made history during the first Gulf War.

“Grace” tells the remarkable story of Shoshana Johnson, the first African American female POW.

Lopez, the film’s writer and director, poured his heart and soul into bringing this extraordinary story to life after being hired to film and interview Johnson for another project.

Lopez became interested in film at a young age and pursued acting in college before finding his true passion in filmmaking.

“When I was very young, my brother and I would get a hold of my father’s little camcorder,” he said during a phone interview from Los Angeles. “And we were just making movies because we wanted to make something like ‘Star Wars.’ My mom used to say, ‘You’re good at acting; you could do that one day.’ So, the acting kind of led to musical theater throughout middle school and high school.”

Read more at El Paso Inc.