Josh Soskin, Director of La Carnada: 2014 Heartland Film Festival Interview

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Josh Soskin has directed several short films, the latest called La Carnada which premiered to rave reviews this spring at Tribeca Film Festival and was awarded “Best of Fest” at Palm Springs International. La Carnada follows a 13-year-old on his first smuggle, a treacherous walk across an infamous stretch of desert in Mexico and Arizona called Devil’s Highway. Another short is Moving Takahashi (2011), selected for several festivals worldwide including the Santa Barbara Film Festival, curated by tastemaker Short of the Week, and named by Vimeo as one of the best 12 films of 2012.  He currently resides in Venice, California. He’s also a surfer, photographer, hispanophile, wannabe chef and proud father of a french bulldog named Guadalupe.

HFF: What is your film about, and how did the project come to be?

JS: La Carnada is about a young boy from Tijuana (Manny), his relationship with his Cartel “Recruiter.” and his first drug smuggle across the border, along a particularly fatal stretch from Sonora Mexico into the US. It came to be through a rather extended process– First it was my own research and experiences in Mexico that led me to become obsessed and invested in this world. I had to make a film about it. From there I worked tirelessly with a bi-national crew, a very long casting process and a bunch of heart and soul and kickstarter to make it all happen.

HFF: What was your role in the production? 

JS: My role was the writer and director.

HFF: Why did you submit to the Heartland Film Festival? Have you been to the Festival before?

JS: I submitted to Heartland because I’d heard great things and thought it would be a cool place to visit. I’ve never been.

HFF: This year’s tagline is “Shift Your Perspective” – what lasting effect will your film have on moviegoers?

JS: I hope the lasting effect on moviegoers is ideally one of surprise–but not just for entertaintment’s sake. Hopefully its a surprise that provokes deeper conversations and explorations into our own relationship with mexico, with the border, with our own drug politics. There’s a lot there. Hopefully this stirs the pots and above all tells a good story.

HFF: What has inspired you to become a filmmaker? 

JS: I was inspired to become a moviemaker when I made my first movie. A tiny short doc about Kent State for a junior high history project. I remember putting images together on one of those big old school editing machines with my Aunt Joan Saffa who’s a great doc filmmaker in her own right. She was helping me shift all the photos and newsclips around and I did the VO and then when we dropped Neil Young’s “four dead in ohio” as a soundtrack, I got all giddy. I think seeing music (my first love) and image ( my other love) come together in that dynamic way was addicting. I knew I wanted to keep making things like that.

HFF: What is something that you know about filmmaking now but you weren’t told when you started your career?

JS: Oh man, everything I know about filmmaking now I didn’t know when I started haha…If I had to pick one thing in particular, at this moment, its probably that more than anything, you have to have fun, you have to play, and you have to appreciate and be humbled by ANY opportunity to be making motion picutre stories with friends. It’s a gem of an experience. Can’t take it for granted.

HFF: What are some of your favorite movies? What’s your favorite worst movie (you know it’s bad, but still love it)?

JS: Right now I’m going through a deep 1980s love affair. Anything John Hughes will do. The first Indiana Jones. I mean, Ferris Bueler’s Day Off, Coming to America, Beverly Hills Cop, Jaws, — it just seems like they don’t make movies that good anymore. Guilty pleasure would be Footloose. Watched it the other night and was shocked at how damn well it holds up. Made me want to dance.

HFF: How many film festivals has your film been a part of? What do you like the most about the festival experience?

JS: I think so far La Carnada has been to around 7 festivals. The thing I like the most is meeting cool filmmakers and watching large audiences react to the film.

HFF: Heartland Film Festival moviegoers love filmmaker Q&As. Let’s say a Festival attendee wants to earn some brownie points—what is a question that you’d love to answer, but haven’t yet been asked?

JS: The question I’d love to answer but have never been asked is How did you shoot this kid crossing the REAL borderwall !?


See La Carnada in Shorts Program 7: It’s Tough to Be a Kid at the 2014 Heartland Film Festival:

  • Saturday, Oct. 18 – 12:30 pm at AMC Castleton Square 14
  • Thursday, Oct. 23 – 12:30 pm at AMC Castleton Square 14
  • Friday, Oct. 25 -4:00 pm at AMC Traders Point Showplace 12
  • Saturday, Oct. 25 – 3:30 pm at AMC Castleton Square 14
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