Cinema lecturer’s film tells story of undocumented teen, based on true events


Cinema lecturer Scott Boswell stands in the film equipment room on the fourth floor of the Fine Arts Building Monday, Feb. 17. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress

LGBT film Cinema lecturer Scott Boswell stands in the film equipment room on the fourth floor of the Fine Arts Building Monday, Feb. 17. Photo by Tony Santos / Xpress

An SF State cinema lecturer has embarked on a new film project that tells the unfamiliar story of a marginalized San Francisco teenager.

Scott Boswell’s “The Day I Grew Up” chronicles the journey of a 16-year-old Latino-American boy and his autistic 8-year-old brother as they run away from home to avoid their visiting uncle, who is a sexual predator. Adrian, the film’s teenage protagonist, also severs ties with his parents after he learns that he is not a U.S. citizen.

Now on the streets of San Francisco, Adrian is devastated to discover his seemingly bright future is unattainable. Powerless, desperate for a comfortable living and incapable of getting a job or proving his identity, he resorts to becoming an erotic masseur.

The 20-minute film is a segment of a feature film Boswell is writing called, “All-American Boy.”

The short is based on the experience of Boswell’s friend who left home 12 years ago after discovering he was undocumented. Now at age 28, he remains independent from his family and is working to obtain citizenship. Although the story stemmed from a true story, “The Day I Grew Up” will be advertised as fiction.

With the short and feature film release, Boswell continues a theme that appears throughout his cinematic endeavors: the narrative of an individual’s struggle within a marginalized community. His other feature film, “The Stranger in Us” sheds light on domestic violence in same-sex relationships.

“I’m really drawn to experiences people have in parts of society where I find there are still social ills,” said Boswell. “Lots of those issues don’t necessarily filter into the mainstream media. I think those stories need to get out there and hopefully raise awareness.”

Most of the film’s crew are SF State cinema students. Recently, Boswell handed “All-American Boy” over to a former student of his, Sarah Altshuler, for final edits.

“Cinema is a great department,” said Altshuler, who is currently enrolled in the MFA program. “(Boswell) is in a unique position as someone who teaches production classes – he has a wide pool of talented people to choose from.”

Another former student of Boswell’s, Sibilla Carini, took on the film’s production design. Together, Carini and Boswell established the “overall feel of the world” that the characters live in. The film was shot without any sets, mostly on the street in the Tenderloin district.

Both Altshuler and Carini said they were inspired to work with Boswell after they took his directing course.

Boswell anticipates that the short film will be released in two months. After the premiere, Boswell will return to writing the corresponding feature film, which he plans to finish in the next year. Boswell hopes the short will inspire potential investors to fund his feature film.

“All-American Boy” will premiere at Coppola Theatre. Boswell also plans to submit the film to several festivals.