Inspired by the cinematic techniques employed in Atom Egoyan’s 1993 film, Calendar, "Essay" by Joel Castro attempts to capture the interconnectedness of language and culture, demonstrating how they contribute to our identities

  • Joel Castro
  • Joel Castro
  • Joel Castro
  • Arjun Banerjee
    Key Cast
  • Christopher Delvin
    Key Cast
  • Esha Anath
    Key Cast
  • Nancy Hernandez
    Key Cast
  • Project Title (Original Language):
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Mocumentary, Short-film
  • Runtime:
    23 minutes 6 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 13, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    0 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English, Spanish
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White and Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    Yes - UC Berkeley
Director Biography - Joel Castro

Joel Castro is a San Diego native, current second-year at UC Berkeley majoring in computer science. In his relatively short videography career, Joel's passion for multimedia technologies has gone hand in hand with his concurring passion for social justice, equity, and inclusion.

"Essay" marks Joel's first-ever Indie narrative film. As a lover of learning, Joel hopes to continue pursuing not only similar work, but branching opportunities in the future.

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Director Statement

The film takes place between Joel’s dorm room, the UC Berkeley campus, and a study space inside Berkeley’s Valley Life Science Building— in parallel to how Calendar operates between Armenian historical sites and the residence of Atom.

While making use of analogous settings, techniques, and characters to Calendar, “Essay” challenges Egoyan’s narrative that only those naturally and deeply connected with their language and homeland can feel a sense of belonging within their cultural identity. I intend to, instead, argue that this same cultural connection can be achieved—regardless of residential status or language proficiency—with as much as a desire to obtain it.

I invite you to follow Joel as he learns that, despite having lived his entire life in the U.S., he too can connect with his Mexican heritage—even if indirectly via his mother. Further, through peeks into various and diverse individual struggles of Joel's friends with their identities, I hope to extend this healthier outlook on one's sense of belonging to, not just the Mexican culture explored in “Essay” (or the depicted gatekeeping of Armenian culture in Calendar), but to any culture.