Representing roots through storytelling
In honor of September being Hispanic Heritage Month, assistant BECA professor at SF State is producing two documentaries about immigrants in collaboration with the San Francisco Giants.
“The Giants are trying to show their audience how inviting they are; that sports are a great way to find community and what best way to do it than with powerful media,” said Guerra.
Professor Oscar Guerra was invited by lecturer Antonio Ayala to produce two mini- documentaries with him. The subjects are Tito Fuentes and Erwin Higueros, who are now the radio announcers for the Giants. They are also Latino immigrants. The documentary, “Estación de mi Gente,” will premiere in September.
He said working in commercials isn’t his forte, but the project spoke to him when he heard it was a story about immigrants and their version of what it is like to live the “American Dream.”
Guerra dedicates his time not only to training his students in their craft, but also to shedding light on the stories undiscovered within the Latino communities. Guerra is also in the midst of finishing his documentary called “Resist: documenting the undocumented,” representing former students from SF State.
Relocating to the United States from Guadalajara, Mexico, was, for him, an opportunity to help the Latino community through storytelling.
“Part of my research is to tell stories about immigrants that came here and struggled, but they have made it … I think it’s very inspirational for everyone,” Guerra said.
Guerra also received a grant from the Research and Sponsored Programs at SF State for his first documentary, and, with the leftover funds, was able to hire students to start his documentary. He is still working on “Resist,” but plans to send the trailer to KQED before the project’s completion.
Before Guerra started the project, he told students that they would need to be very courageous before they went public about being undocumented individuals. He calls them “heroes.”
“In reality, I don’t think I’m trying to respond to major questions, but I’m just trying to shed light on the issue,” said Guerra.
Guerra collaborates with his best students over the course of the school year. He says that he couldn’t do everything by himself and that his students also offer fresh ideas to the projects. He created a group that meets twice a month called “Director’s Editing Club” in order to promote community with the students.
“As a director, you always need good people working next to you, and what better way than with our best students here in BECA?” Guerra said.
Jonny Trimboli, BECA major, said that out of all the professors that he’s met, Guerra was the only teacher who actually stuck to his promises of helping his students find internships and major opportunities.
“Last semester was my first semester, and within the first month of knowing Guerra, he already got me a position editing for the San Francisco Giants,” Trimboli said.
Fellow BECA major Jessi Fry says working with Guerra has encouraged her to take creative risks. “With his guidance and his constructive critique of my work … I’ve become not only a better student, but a better artist,” said Fry.
“Find your passion and use your classes and your professors as an excuse to achieve that,” said Guerra. “Here in the BECA department we are committed to our students; that’s what I love about this place.”