NYWIFT Blog

Meet the New NYWIFT Member: Mariluz Guerra

By Ozzi Ramirez

Let’s give a warm NYWIFT welcome to Mariluz Guerra! Originally from Colombia, she is a proud indigenous Kankuaman filmmaker with experience directing, scriptwriting, producing, and editing. Her commitment to helping others heal through art is channeled in her films Body Stories: Suraj & Julieta and Body Stories: Together.

Learn more about Mariluz as we discuss how her cultural roots are an ongoing influence on her projects, the innovative filmic style of Body Stories: Together, and the significant role that smartphones contributed towards helping her create an original and cost-efficient film!

NYWIFT Member Mariluz Guerra

 

Tell us about yourself. Give us your elevator pitch.

I’m an indigenous Kankuama woman, independent filmmaker, and founder of Body Stories Project Inc., a global collective of artists and non-profit with one focus: to co-create movies for inner peace. Here we learn about the power of healing cinema, resilience, and resourcefulness to close the financial gap in moviemaking while sharing hope with our communities, as we heal together one movie at a time.

 

NYWIFT Member Mariluz Guerra behind the cameras

 

You’ve expressed great pride in your indigenous heritage as a Kankuama woman. How has your cultural background informed your filmmaking perspective? What wellness habits from your upbringing do you feel viewers who watch your films might find beneficial?

Decide not to run for everything because not everything is urgent (that’s applicable to every aspect of life). Reconnect with your roots in simple ways that will help you become a better you and make you a better artist. For example, practice conscious breathing, active listening, mindful walking, and care for your plants.

 

How did the pandemic affect your artistry and career?

After I made the huge decision to jump into a plane and spend one month in an ashram in Mumbai learning yoga, COVID-19 started to spread in the city. When the lockdown started, and international flights stopped, I had to decide between becoming paralyzed and scared or going inwards and finally making the long-postponed movie I was carrying all these years. I decided to pursue my dreams and write the script for Body Stories: Suraj & Julieta. Not long after, I found beautiful beings who resonated with the story and decided to collaborate on this project. We are now more than twenty artists from different parts of the world growing together!

 

 

Body Stories: Suraj & Julieta features vibrant imagery in addition to wonderful music and prose that intersect beautifully. Can you describe the process of weaving these elements into the film?

While enclosed for various months in an ashram with green areas, I found enough time to start noticing the beauty of the growing plants, flowers, fruits, and vegetables. That’s when I began to use my smartphone camera to record everything I loved seeing.

Regarding the music, someone advised me to connect with musicians through social media. I followed that advice, and after various conversations, I was able to include the songs Juliet and Honey from FAM, a music producer from Atlanta. I also reconnected with an acquaintance from Santiago, Chile. Teodoro is a prolific jazz trumpeter whose song Armax, which he created with the Escaleno Cuarteto, opens the movie. Generally, my vision intertwined with the structure and cadence of a scene leads me to select a certain song.

 

 

Your short film Body Stories: Together was shot exclusively on smart phones. What inspired this creative decision, and how did it contribute to the finished product? Would you recommend this resource to other directors? 

My need to tell a story and a lack of funds led me to use the smartphones we had to shoot the entirety of the movie, making it easier for each teammate to film in their individual locations while I directed from online. This decision contributed to helping make my first movie a reality, broke the ice in many ways, and allowed me to explore more while working as part of a cohesive team.

I would definitely recommend smartphones to other directors! They allow you to explore possible shots and document anything that catches your attention without having to depend on professional gear. Smartphones are also useful for first time directors who want to kickstart their independent projects. 

 

What brings you to NYWIFT? How did you learn about the organization and what experiences do you do hope to encounter as a member? 

I was searching for an inclusive and diverse community where I would feel seen, supported, and encouraged to give my best. After researching film grants, I found NYWIFT and joined the Zoom networking meeting in October of last year, where I met and nurtured a connection with great and talented women who I have continued conversations with. I now feel happy as a new member of NYWIFT. 

I hope to encounter more open conversations about film grants, fiscal sponsorships, and other ways to fund films effectively. Right now, I’m in the developmental stage of my next movie Body Stories: Marta & Fidel. I’ve been working to obtain the funds for this project, which is why I’ve opened a boutique at Bonfire. Recently, I made my first sales and I’m ready to keep working on this.

 

 

What is the best and worst advice you’ve received? 

The best advice I received was to be shameless. Talk with strangers about your projects because you never know which door could open. But choose wisely who you discuss your projects with and how much you share. I also believe timing is vital. 

The worst advice I received was to accelerate and create “fast food stories” only for the money. I prefer to create effective methods to channel stories in the most dynamic ways.

 

 

What is next for Mariluz Guerra? Where do you see yourself in the next five to ten years? 

Through Body Stories Project Inc., I see myself forming a supportive and self-sustainable community of artists empowered to tell their own stories with high professionalism and care, changing the detrimental dynamics of the industry for restorative methods that allow healthier lifestyles among the members and newcomers, while respecting the circular motion of life and creating healing cinematic expressions for the whole world.

 

Check out Mariluz’s website and experience the newly-released Body Stories: Together on YouTube! Also, visit Mariluz’s clothing boutique at Bonfire where you will find some really cute shirts for sale.

PUBLISHED BY

Ozzi Ramirez

Ozzi Ramirez Ozzi Ramirez is a current intern at NYWIFT and aspiring film producer and programmer. He studied English Literature and Theater at the University of Vermont and later received a Master's Degree in Mass Communications from Florida International University in Miami. Having moved to NYC in 2019, his interests include moseying through Manhattan with his headphones on full blast, most dogs and cats, coffee, discovering good deals on theater tickets, politics, traveling, and of course, experiencing great storytelling through movies, TV shows, and books.

View all posts by Ozzi Ramirez

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