The MOSIAC Film Festival at the Lied Center for Performing Arts will be showcasing Ingrid Holmquist’s film creations on Nov. 17 and 18.
Holmquist graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2015. Now a documentary filmmaker and a freelance Associate Producer for a documentary unit at CNN, she said it is weird to be back showing her award-winning work at her alma mater.
“My imposter syndrome is on full blast,” Holmquist said. “I still feel like a student at UNL, despite being out of school for over five years now. It still seems like yesterday and to have this big honor of being able to showcase these two films in my hometown, I’m hoping that my past educators and loved ones can see this as their success as well.”
The two films featured in the film festival are “Chief Standing Bear’s Journey to Statuary Hall,” co-directed by Judi gaiashkibos and Holmquist, and “Guanajuato Norte”, co-directed by Sana A. Malik and Holmquist.
Chief Standing Bear’s Journey to Statuary Hall tells the true story of Standing Bear, a Ponca chief, and his journey to becoming a recognized Nebraska hero through his human rights court case. Holmquist said the creation of the film was touching.
“The most touching moment for me was going back to the Niobrara and walking the land that Standing Bear had lived on, and the same land where the Ponca people had been forcibly removed from,” Holmquist said. “It was beautiful, quiet, peaceful and lush. I could imagine, after hearing the story of Chief Standing Bear from many of his direct descendants and others, the story unfolding on this ground.”
Holmquist said that witnessing the unveiling of Chief Standing Bear’s statue, which took place in the same room where the Indian Removal Act of 1812 was signed, was also a momentous event. She said that seeing the statue surrounded by other statues of majority white figures gave her chills.
The second film being shown in the festival, Guanajuato Norte, was created after Holmquist met Sana Malik in graduate school at Columbia University. The film follows Wenceslao “Winny” Contreras and his sacrifice- separation from his family- that he makes in order to send his children to college and provide a better life for them. Contreras works on a berry farm in Connecticut while his family resides in Mexico.
On the film’s IMDB page, Malik and Holmquist describe the film as “an intimate portrait of what it looks like on the other side of that sacrifice: the families left behind as their loved ones help them achieve their dreams.”
To Holmquist, the most impactful moments in the film were the most gentle ones.
“The moment that touches me the most- both as a witness and friend of Winny and his family and as a moment in the film- is the father-daughter dance at Mayra’s graduation,” Holmquist said. “This moment brought me to tears behind the camera and continues to do so after I watch it for the hundredth time. To me, this quiet moment is the point of the film.”
Holmquist said that being a daydreamer allowed her to become a documentary creator.
“Normally, my daydreams are about real things that could happen to real people and the way it would be to exist in other bodies,” Holmquist said.
Holmquist said documentary films can lead to a better understanding of each other as well as improved empathy and even social progress. By learning about other people and their experiences, documentaries are a way to see other people’s point of view, she said.
“I also want to be used in a way by people to put their stories, lives, hardships and joys on the record, to screenshot the stories of their lives for the archives,” Holmquist said. “That’s also why I care so much about journalism.”
In the future, Holmquist hopes to start a business to use multimedia to preserve people’s stories through videos and interviews. This business would involve well-researched interviews and other outside interviews to allow Holmquist to create a short documentary specifically for that person. She said she’s been dreaming about it since 2014, when she was still attending the UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
“I strongly believe in stories and reservation of the words that define our lives,” Holmquist said. “I also believe you don’t need status, wealth, accolades or popularity to deserve the honor of being remembered, to have your thoughts and meaning archived. I believe everyone is worthy of being remembered, not only for their legacy, but for the people who stand in their tracks, who will need their advice and wisdom down the road for future generations who want to understand their elders.”
To aspiring filmmakers and videographers at UNL, Holmquist advised to be sensitive and to let stories unfold organically. She also emphasized the importance of surrounding oneself with great filmmaking partners.
“People are not a monolith. Let them surprise you,” Holmquist said. “Never force a character of your film into a box that you want them to be in. Allow them to define the story by being open, accepting, collaborative and unlimiting. Filmmaking is a collaborative experience and one that, I believe, the best product comes when people work together as a team.”