Alfredo Torres (’23) premieres thesis film at the Telluride Film Festival

October 10, 2023

Production still of Alfredo Torres filming in Mexico.

Alfredo Torres filming in Mexico.

Alfredo Torres (’23) recently premiered his short documentary thesis film “jardines” at the 50th Telluride Film Festival as part of the Filmmakers of Tomorrow program. 

The program’s Student Prints section, now in its 30th year, celebrates the best student-produced short films from around the globe. The selected films were curated by Gregory Nava (“Selena,” “El Norte”) and Barry Jenkins (“The Underground Railroad,” “If Beale Street Could Talk,” “Moonlight”.) 

Set in one of the few LGBTQ+ shelters in Tijuana, “jardines” is an intimate portrait of the life experiences and trajectories unique to displaced queer people as they flee violence and persecution in their home countries. Crafted with a lush, poetic and joyous eye, the film introduces us to people contemplating the uncertainty of a future in the United States as asylum policies become increasingly restrictive and new waves of anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation are passed throughout the U.S and the world.

“To be able to bring a story as timely and urgent as “jardines” to such a recognized space in the industry is incredibly meaningful not only for me as a filmmaker, but for the set of voices and stories that have been missing historically,” Torres said. The film “insists on its personal and artistic responsibility to create and contribute to a severely neglected archive that is our own.”

Alfredo Torres onstage at the 2023 Telluride Film Festival with fellow filmmakers.

Alfredo Torres, third from far right, onstage at the 2023 Telluride Film Festival with fellow filmmakers.

From the moment you arrived, Torres said, you could tell you were surrounded by people whose main reason to be there was their love for cinema and their belief in its transformative power.

One of the highlights was meeting his fellow cohort in the Filmmakers of Tomorrow shorts section.

“The many movies, conversations and overall excitement that we shared as a group while at the festival was truly motivating for me,” Torres said. “Rooted in our hustle and dreams to make movies, the work and vision of these talented and fearless young filmmakers really inspired me. I’m deeply grateful to filmmaker Gregory Nava, Professor Jennifer Redfearn, filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes, Professor Jason Spingarn-Koff and the many people who have supported me in this journey.”

Black and white photo of Alfredo Torres on location in Mexico holding a camera.

Alfredo Torres on location in Mexico.

“By beautifully weaving intimate narratives with the societal context, Alfredo spotlights the underreported stories of the LGBTQ+ community in migration,” Redfearn said. “His powerful filmmaking promises a bright path ahead in documentary filmmaking and highlights the importance of amplifying diverse voices and narratives in the field.”

Torres is a documentary filmmaker from Costa Rica. With a strong focus on themes of migration, LGBTQIA+ rights, and the environment, his work often explores contemporary aspects of creativity, culture, and identity. Earlier this year Torres was awarded one of Berkeley Journalism’s top honors, the Marlon T. Riggs Fellowship in documentary filmmaking. And his pursuits in non-fiction have been supported by renowned institutions like the Berkeley Film Foundation.

Torres was recruited to Berkeley Journalism as part of the first cohort of the Dean’s Fellows program, a leadership development initiative that fully funds up to five first-generation college students as a way of removing structural barriers to entering journalism.

“Alfredo is the eldest son of a family of coffee workers in the rural mountains of Costa Rica. He did not expect to even go to high school, let alone university or graduate school abroad. It is the ultimate pride of educators to be able to play a part in supporting him so he can thrive, make his extraordinary thesis documentary and have it chosen to premiere at such a storied film festival,” Geeta Anand, dean of Berkeley Journalism, said. “Who the storytellers are matters. I could not be more thrilled for him.”

Follow the film’s Instagram page for future screenings @jardinesfilm.

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