Video now up for award on international stage

Ramiro Cantu, a senior at McAllen ISD’s Lamar Academy, won first place in the All American High School Film Festival 2017 in New York City October 6-8. His video, called #RefugeesWelcome, won its category as the best Public Service Announcement and was a finalist for Best Visual Effects.

#RefugeesWelcome is about the plight of Syrian refugees. The idea germinated after he had seen news stories about them.

“I wanted to help others understand that we should treat them as humans,” he said.

Using skills he learned in KMAC, the district’s Audio/Video Production course, Cantu quickly dived into the project. He spent three weeks writing the script, one week to shoot it and about three days to edit the piece. Friends, including some from KMAC, and drama students from McAllen High served as his crew and actors.

The video has also been nominated in the International Crime and Punishment Film Festival. This will be held Nov. 3-9 in Istanbul, Turkey. His film is one of 10 finalists.

“It was exciting (on learning of the nomination),” Cantu said. “I did not see that coming.”

Cantu, who wants to become a professional filmmaker, is especially proud of the last scene in the video. It’s a close up of the main character who is sitting on a curb looking desperate as she slowly looks up.

“It’s the protagonist, (McAllen High student actress) May Ramirez, looking at the camera and she breaks the “fourth wall.” You can see her cry. You can see a tear rolling down her cheek and it’s very impactful, very emotional, and shows what they feel.”

Last spring, #RefugeesWelcome won Best of Show at the SkillsUSA state contest in Corpus Christi. SkillsUSA is a national membership association serving high school, college and middle school students involved in Career Technical Education fields.

Ramiro also served as Co-Director for KMAC’s Crazy 8’s Film team that won first place nationally at the Student Television Network contest in Anaheim, CA last spring.

“He is such an amazing student and represents his peers and our community with such humility and distinction,” Lamar Theatre Teacher Micky Pelletier said.

Efforts are underway to raise money for him to attend the festival in Istanbul. There is a Go Fund Me page for Cantu on Facebook.

The award-winning video is on You Tube: