South Texas high school student's film gaining international acclaim

A Texas border student is winning major awards after producing a short film on Syrian refugees.

MCALLEN, TX - Shooting for the stars, a South Texas high school senior’s three-minute short film is making the rounds at award shows nationwide. The young man is bringing a highly-debated issue to the forefront while putting his school on the map.

Behind every Ramiro Cantu film lies a message. In a few spoken words, the three-minute public service announcement is saying a whole lot about Cantu and his latest school project.

“I started seeing some articles about Syrian refugees and I didn’t think that the media was doing them right,” he said.

Earlier this year, the Lamar Academy student cast a few actors and assembled a crew to create #refugeeswelcome, intending to change people’s view about the U.S. taking in war-torn refugees.

“I could relate because I know a lot of people that have come to the U.S. because of all the stuff that’s been going on in Mexico. There’s cartels. I’ve witnessed it," Cantu said.

For the past four years, Cantu has lived on his own in Texas at his aunt’s apartment while his parents live across the border in neighboring Reynosa, Mexico. He says that his family makes ends meet to pay for his mother’s cancer treatment.

“I’m incredibly proud, and I’m still incredibly proud,” said Cantu’s film teacher, Roberto Garza.

It’s that struggle that Garza believes gives students in the McAllen Independent School District an edge.

“We look beyond all of our borders,” Garza said. “This is a story that Ramiro didn’t have a direct connection with. It’s something that’s happening around the world, but he connected with it.”

Cantu wasn’t the only one to make that connection. This year #refugeeswelcome has won the best-of-show award at a state competition and best PSA at the All-American High School Film Festival in New York City.

Cantu and his lead actor Mayela Ramirez are walking on clouds down the road of success with their eyes set on their next prize: winning at an international film contest in Istanbul, Turkey.

Both Cantu and Garza are hoping to raise enough money in time to make it to the awards show in November through a GoFundMe page.

Whatever the outcome, both students just want their video to continue to be shared and for the message to be understood.

“I hope people realize that there are others in this world that are facing these hardships, and they shouldn’t go through it alone,” Ramirez said.

Cantu is already working on his next film, which will focus on the reasons behind school shootings.

Check it out below.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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