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  • Writer's pictureAkiva Penaloza

Mexican Magic on Film: Triumph Over Tragedy

Updated: 6 days ago

Awakening Georgie is my new, short film about a major trauma that turned into a minor miracle. Second in a trilogy of films about my Mexican family, it’s inspired by George Lopez, my brother-in-law, who fell asleep at the wheel in the middle of a dark stretch of highway in the Arizona desert. He spent months in a coma. For 3 months after, he shuffled, grunted and went unshaven with long, greasy hair, deep scars on each side of his head, staples and a shunt in his skull. Then, one day, my sister Rebecca decided he was well enough to get a haircut. This story, now told through the female perspective of Georgie, takes place on the day of that haircut and how in a few magical moments she began the slow climb back to normalcy.

 

As George took his first steps on the long road to healing, we had a lot to learn about Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). With this fascinating story of transformation, I yearn to help families and friends of people with TBI. Through the lens of a resilient family steeped in a strong Mexican culture, I offer hope along the arduous road to recovery.


The team is a diverse group of experienced filmmakers over 40. Nancy Schreiber, (P Valley, Station 19,) director, is an award-winning director and cinematographer and the fourth woman ever voted into membership in the prestigious American Society of Cinematographers and the first to receive the ASC’s President’s Award in 2017. Arati Misro, a fellow AFI alum, will produce. Linda Arroz of Makeover Media is our social media/PR producer, with Andee Kinzy and Cynthia Preston of Dame 51 Productions rounding out our crew. Dara Wishingrad is our esteemed Production Designer. All are deeply moved by this triumphant story. Our team members represent a combined 70 years of filmmaking experience.


We will take this exquisite film to the next level to not only elevate persons with disabilities, but Mexican families everywhere.

 

I tell this story because, like George, the coma of my struggle with depression brought me to my knees. I found endurance and in overcoming, I gained a depth of compassion and understanding for those marginalized. I lived a quiet life of desperation then triumphed over tragedy, and I bring that depth to this film. George’s story was one of many that saved me. And I want to honor him and all survivors by bringing this story to life. If we can do it, indeed, Si, Se Puede!


For further information on TBI, please visit


If you or someone you. know needs immediate help, please contact a healthcare provider or local support group.

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