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Local filmmaker uses personal experiences as inspiration for new movie

Humberto Castro

They cross the border illegally and there is a high price to pay. Lives are lost. Families are torn apart. But the dream compels them to continue.

Those are the plot points behind the movie "El Sueno" by first-time filmmaker Humberto Castro.

"It was a very difficult experience, but it was worth it," Castro said.

Castro is the co-writer, co-director and lead actor in the feature-length film, which premiered last week in El Paso.

"I wanted to say this story in a way that I was passionate about and I've always been passionate about film," Castro said.

The 31-year-old Castro is a UTEP graduate. He grew up in Juarez and El Paso and turned to his personal experiences while writing the script.

"I was actually here undocumented until the age of 21, right before I turned 21," Castro said.

"I think the attention that 'El Sueno' the movie is making will garner a lot of attention to El Paso because it was filmed strictly here in El Paso," said Arturo Portillo, a local actor and special effects supervisor who worked on "El Sueno. "There's a lot of movies that are made about illegal immigration, but they don't film in El Paso."

Last week, "El Sueno" was accepted into the Hollywood Boulevard Film Festival. It will screen in Miami next week.

"When people saw the movie, their reaction, their feedback, them just coming up to me and saying that the movie touched them because they've either gone through it or knew someone who had gone through similar experiences - to me it was all worthwhile when I get those reactions and I know the movie touched people in that special way," Castro said.

The filmmakers said they know they're not going to put the immigration debate to rest, but they hope more conversations will start.

"If this goes to plan, hopefully, around the world, we'll get that message and see what undocumented immigrants go through on a daily basis," Castro said.

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