By Joseph Marasciullo
Nearly two years after debuting her first feature-length film to a sold out crowd at the Cinema Arts Centre, filmmaker Patricia Shih is gearing up for an encore screening this weekend.
Shih’s film, “Undocumented,” was inspired by the personal story of Dr. Harold Fernandez, chronicling a migrant’s decision to leave everything behind for a chance to live a better life in America.
When it premiered, “Undocumented” was met with widespread praise. Since then, it has been screened at eight festivals and won nine awards.
Shih said she’s also been approached by four different film distributors with offers to distribute the film, but opted to remain independent with her agent.
With “Undocumented,” Shih hopes to “put a human face on the topic of immigration, and let people draw their own conclusions,” she said.
Shih, who is also a singer and songwriter, met Fernandez through his son, who she had used as an actor in her music videos.
Shortly after, Fernandez gifted both Shih and her husband copies of his autobiography, which is also titled “Undocumented.” After finishing the book, which Shih said was “impossible to put down,” she spoke with Fernandez about the possibility of turning the story into a movie.
That was no easy task, however.
Shih had never directed anything longer than a music video, and didn’t have the funds to produce such a film. She decided the best option would be to crowdfund the endeavor.
The campaign was backed by 179 people who collectively donated $25,503 that was used to make the film a reality.
Shih also brought in Greg Blank, who had helped produce a feature on her for Verizon Fios1, as well as her husband. Shih then set out to produce the documentary film within five months.
The endeavor was met with doubt, Shih said, as many questioned her ability to create “anything of quality” given the tight budget, short timeframe for filming and her lack of production experience.
Undeterred, Shih went go on to produce the movie on time and it premiered just prior to the 2016 Presidential Election, which was important, she said, as the film was “needed even more then.”
This weekend’s encore showing is set to begin at 6 p.m., Sunday at the Cinema Arts Center (423 Park Ave., Huntington). For ticketing information, visit Cinemaartscentre.org/