Senior videos show mafia thrills, goals

by Alex Serena
Staff Writer

Overcoming obstacles to achieve a life goal and a mafia thriller are themes for senior video projects done by University of La Verne students Enrique Gutiérrez and Kareem Aqleh.

“Cristian Bejarano: The Bronze Warrior” is a documentary based on a Mexican boxer that overcame adversity in his poverty stricken life to win the Bronze medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics Games.

“I contacted Cristian last year and told him about my senior project, since our families were friends with each other. He didn’t mind if I followed him around to make the movie,” Gutiérrez said.

The documentary centers on a boxer and his goal to eventually become world champion. He was trained very young by his grandfather, Don Sacramento. Bejarano went up the amateur ranks and was recruited by the Mexican Olympic Committee to train with them at their center.

After, four years of training with them, he qualified for the super light featherweight division in Sydney.

He won the Bronze medal bringing glorification to him and his country.

He used the win in the Olympics as a catapult to fight in the professional ranks. Boxing promoter Bob Arum signed him with Top Rank Boxing.

“I sent Top Rank an email describing what I was doing with the film. After they did their evaluations, they gave me access to Cristian and also places like Staples Center and training centers,” Gutiérrez said.

The locations for the movies changed from Chihuahua, Mexico where Bejarano trains, to Los Angeles, where he fought at Staples Center.

One of the biggest problems Gutiérrez faced when shooting this film was the fact that he was a one-man crew and had a very low budget.

Also, since the second part of the documentary was shot during the summer, he didn’t have the equipment available to him from the school. He had to borrow it from other sources.

The documentary was filmed in two different sections. The first video deals with his personal life and what kind of life he went through to get to the higher ranks of boxing and what came after this medal win.

It also includes his life struggles such as losing a fight in the Pan American Games to the time when he arrived back in his native city and got mobbed by publicity.

He became a hero overnight, as every boxer in the state of Chihuahua wanted to be like him.

The second part deals primarily with his boxing life, from preparing for fights to actually having footage of his first fight on a championship card in Los Angeles.

“The documentary was split like this because I wanted to show two different phases in his life,” Gutiérrez said. “It was almost gratifying to do this movie. I felt like I could’ve done better but doing this all by myself made it very special to me to do a movie like this.”

Kareem Aqleh produced the second movie shown. The name of the movie is, “Coming Home.”

It’s a mafia-based movie that deals with a child named Antonio being witness to the slaying of his parents by Don Giovanni, the mob leader. He gets sent away for his own protection.

The movie is forwarded 20 years later; he comes back and finds an old friend from his childhood.

She ends up getting killed by the same people that murdered his parents.

“This movie was made for fun and to entertain people. There really is no seriousness in the movie or any moral given, I just wanted to do a fun movie,” Aqleh said.

The movie was filmed with a mafia theme because Aqleh has always been intrigued by movies like “The Godfather.”

He received help from Nate Michael, who directed the movie, and John Martin, who did the editing.

“The help was invaluable because I was able to do things a little faster and not have to worry so much on doing everything,” Aqleh said.

Both movies and others will be shown on May 19 at 7 p.m. in the lecture hall in room 212 of the Arts and Communications Building. Refreshments will be served.

In addition to the work of the seniors, video productions by the Communications Department’s other television students will be screened at 7 p.m. tomorrow, also in ACB 212.

Both events are free and refreshments will be served.

For more information, call Don Pollock at (909) 593-3511 at extension 4277.

Journalism operations manager at the University of La Verne. Production manager and business manager of the Campus Times.

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