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Laredoan’s film earns highest prize at Sundance

By Louis San Miguel
On April 2, 2015

Laredo now has another claim to fame, having bred a Sudance-winning film director in Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.  He was awarded the top grand jury awards from not only the judging panel, but also the audience’s top prize at the film festival. 

The Hispanic filmmaker, who learned his craft first as an assistant to Martin Scorsese (“Casino”) and went on to work with noted figures such as Norah Ephron (“Julie and Julia”) and Grammy-winner Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu (“Babel” and “21 Grams”)  won the award on the strength of his most recent work, “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl”.

The film, based on the book of the same name, stars Thomas Mann as Greg, a high school filmmaker who loves making eccentric, eclectic films with Earl, his only friend. 

His mother, played by Connie Briton,  wants her boy to be exposed to the world and forces Greg to befriend a girl who has recently been diagnosed with leukemia.

Gomez-Rejon stated in his acceptance speech that the work was a tribute in the memory of his father.

“This movie was about processing loss, and to celebrate the beautiful life of a beautiful man, which is my amazing father. This was in his memory and to celebrate him with humor.”  Gomez Rejon said.

His father ­— Dr. Julio Cesar Gomez Rejon — made great strides in improving the availability of mental healthcare in Laredo during his life before his death. He co-founded the Laredo State Center, which exists today as the Border Region Behavioral Health Center. 

In the speech, the director also made sure to give tribute to young filmmakers in Laredo.  

“This is an absolute dream. This week has been incredibly cathartic for so many reasons. This movie means so much to me. I want to thank you on behalf of all the artists that work on this film and I want to dedicate this award to all the young artists and filmmakers in Laredo, Texas, my hometown.”

The film is schelduled to be released in limited theathers on June 12 , with a wide release following soon after. 

Horror enthusiasts who enjoyed Gomez-Rejon’s directing on “American Horror Story” will also be happy to learn that the director’s work in the genre will continue, wih “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” scheduled for release on October 16.

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