Sharing Culture

Karen Orrego had an idea.

She was a film student in her junior year at the University of Utah and wanted to see more Latin American films come to Utah. Her professor wisely told her that she shouldn’t wait for someone to do it. She acted on the advice and started to talk to people, many telling her it wouldn’t work.

Enter Juan Paulo Verela, a recent graduate. The two connected and Karen shared her idea with him, which Juan whole-heartedly believed in. Over the next few meetings, The Crisol Film Initiative was born.

Karen, Founder and Director of Crisol, and Juan Paulo, Program Director, scheduled meetings with local state, community and private organizations to garner support. Juan told of his experience, “A lot of the times, we would go in and there would be an idea that we were just a bunch of kids, that we didn’t know what we were doing, but when we had the opportunity to sit down in front of them and share our idea, we were able to make an impact and they actually wanted to be a part of this”. Fast forward to today, Crisol is up and running with 6 films and a handful of screenings under its belt.

“Usually people think of the traditions of Latin America,”Orrego said, “but they don’t see too much of the contemporary views in Latin America”.

Both have been approached numerous times after screenings with viewers who were surprised by social issues common to Latin American and the United States. The two are very pleased with the progress the initiative has made in sharing the culture and issues of Latin America. “It has been the perfect platform to share Latin American culture within Salt Lake and provide a space for discourse, to juxtapose L.A. culture with US American culture,” Juan-Paulo said. “I want people to be inspired by the art and also be inspired to create their own initiatives,” said Karen. She advised that if you have an idea, start talking to people about it; the bigger the network you can build, the higher the chance of obtaining success.

You can find Crisol at:

– By Stanford Kekauoha