Sundance Watch List: BENAVIDES BORN

How did a couple of New Yorkers, Daniel Meisel and Amy Wendel, end up making a movie about a young, female third-generation Mexican-American high school athlete whose chances of breaking out of her small south Texas town are pinned on winning the state powerlifting championship?

As part of its ongoing series of interviews with 2011 Sundance Film Festival filmmakers, IndiWIRE put that very question to Wendel, the director and cowriter (with Meisel, who also produced the film) of 2011 Sundance Film Festival U.S. Dramatic Competition Film BENAVIDES BORNShe answers:

My husband and I saw a “60 Minutes” segment about a small South Texas town, called San Diego, that had lost two of its youths in the first months of the war in Iraq. We were intrigued by the description of this town’s population as not only 98% Mexican-American, but also typically fourth or fifth generation American. We wondered what this community’s version of America might be like, and what options their children might have beyond the military – which dominated their school job fairs. I went down to San Diego and nearby Benavides without any preconceived notions of what I might find. I sought out people to interview – teachers, reporters, students, longtime residents, soldiers, and clergy. The first student I interviewed was on the women’s powerlifting team. I said, “The what team?” I was hooked. Every interview thereafter was like another door opening on a new world. My husband and I eventually crafted a story that incorporated the information and issues we found most compelling in these interviews.

The rest of the interview with Wendel can be found here.

Be sure to satisfy all your festival needs with the latest buzz, top stories, and celebrity interviews from Sundance Channel’s coverage of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.