In a crowded Cinemark theater in Yuba City the atmosphere was like a big family reunion. Old friends and family greeted each other with hugs, smiles and “long time, no-see.” They had gathered to watch “Slipping Into Darkness,” a short film written and produced by one of their own.
Working to tell authentic stories about Latino-Americans through film, Yuba City native David Mansanalez returned home to show his 30-minute film. It’s the story of Juanito, a young man struggling to fight the cycle of imprisonment that his father fell into, known as generational incarceration.
After serving in the U.S. Army for four years, Mansanalez moved to Los Angeles and attended the Los Angeles Film School, where he made connections in the film industry. He and three friends then created a film production company “4 Ways Entertainment” to tell stories that were authentic to their experiences.
“Personally, I think right now (in) Hollywood there’s a big Latino movement,” Mansanalez said. “Sometimes you can tell when the network or big studios get involved ... not everyone drives a low-rider or certain elements that are to appeal to the audience.”
Mansanalez said he and his friends were inspired to create their own production company to make the kinds of projects they wanted to see, reflecting real experiences rather than the stereotypes of Latino’s often seen on screen.
“We can’t complain if the stories aren’t to our liking,” Mansanalez said.
The story Mansanalez wanted to tell with “Slipping Into Darkness” was generational incarceration in the Latino community. Filmed in and around Latino areas of Los Angeles, he said many locations were excited to have an all-Latino cast and production team film in their restaurants.
“There’s not a happy ending,” Mansanalez said. “It’s a drama, so it is heavy – so if people leave and they feel a certain way, then I feel like I did my job.”
Screening the film in Yuba City was important for Mansanalez because he wanted to share his project with those who have supported him.
“Being from a small community, I’m excited and I was actually taken aback by the amount of love and embrace I’ve received,” Mansanalez said. “I just want them to see what we created.”
Ultimately, Mansanalez wants to return to Yuba City to make a film about the infamous 1970s serial killer Juan Corona. For now, he is working on another project that starts filming in two months and also has a few movie scripts in the works.
Mansanalez said he is excited to continue to make projects “as authentic as I could.”
At the showing, as the credits rolled, the crowd erupted into applause. It seemed that Mansanalez’ concept worked. They felt some type of way.