Short Film Review: It Happened One Day in East LA
It Happened One Day in East LA is a short film directed by Victor Aguilar. Starring Danny Cano, the story takes place in the 1960s during the civil rights movements in Los Angeles.
We often ask ourselves what the future holds for us, but do we really want to know? Thanks to advanced technology, we’ve become attuned to learning history via a camera lens, either through photos or video. “It Happened One Day in East LA” depicts a young photographer (Danny Cano) dealing with history during the 1960s civil rights movement in Los Angeles and his reaction when he realizes that his camera captures images aside from the present moments.
Navigating the city, Ben is taking pictures when randomly he comes across an activist on his way to a walkout. Ben is hesitant to participate in the walkout, later known as the East LA walkouts, one of the largest student walkouts in LA history.
As he develops his pictures, he’s surprised by what his camera has captured: the future in addition to some not-so-progressive developments. The notion of illustrating the future can have various consequences, potentially creating a sense of wonder within the audience through studying its pros and cons. For instance, one important question to consider is, what now? What would (or should) someone do with the learned information? That’s the struggle that Ben encounters.
The film uses historical events by presenting them on every single developed picture—every one of them shot with Ben’s magical technological device. It’s fascinating to remind oneself of the idea of acquiring knowledge regarding society, politics (of any time), and even family history through photographs and videos. Cameras and any recording or photographic devices have power. The power to capture history for future generations to learn. Also giving people the power to record videos and images of injustices that would often be ignored if not for these devices. As actor Will Smith once said: “Racism isn’t getting worse. It’s getting filmed.”
However, for every con, there’s a pro: Having pictures or videos of family members showcasing joyous memories is also powerful. It allows us to keep our legacies and memories alive while reminiscing happy times. (Yes, I’m quoting “Hamilton” again. “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”)
Overall, “It Happened One Day in East LA” skillfully uses an intriguing concept by giving its audience something rich to contemplate. Sadly, the concept also can speak to many during these unfortunate times.
If you have 15 minutes, please give this short film a watch. Not only will you be viewing an impressive piece of filmmaking, but you’ll be supporting diverse voices and stories.