Visiting Olivia (Feature Proof-of-Concept)

Julian, a post-graduate frustrated with life, sets off on a soul-searching adventure and reconnects with his spirited Mexican grandmother, Olivia, only to be confronted with unexpected revelations that challenge everything he thought he knew about his family and himself.

  • Renee Victor
    Key Cast
    Weeds, Snowpiercer, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, Coco
  • David Zaldivar
    Key Cast
    Ben is Back, FBI, Briarpatch
  • Pablo Hernandez
    Key Cast
    Cholo Adventures, Superstore, The Muppets
  • Victor Giovanny Parra
    Scooby-Doo Where Are You Now, Pistoleros, Young Rock, As We See It, The Secrets of Sulphur Springs
  • Victor Giovanny Parra
    Scooby-Doo Where Are You Now, Pistoleros, Young Rock, As We See It, The Secrets of Sulphur Springs
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    drama, comedy
  • Runtime:
    9 minutes 34 seconds
  • Production Budget:
    70,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Spanish
  • Shooting Format:
    RED 4K
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Victor Giovanny Parra

Victor Parra (born June 16th, 1986) is a Mexican-American film director, screenwriter, and editor. He was born in Dallas, TX, and raised by a single immigrant mother. English is his second language. Parra’s passion for filmmaking began at age 12 when he was gifted a used VHS camera, subsequently shooting dozens of shorts with his cousins. At 15, he shot a stop motion animation parody of How the Grinch Stole Christmas using play-doh and cardboard. A public access channel, GRS-TV, aired the short as a Christmas special, playing it on loop.

Parra attended The Los Angeles Film School where he fell in love with the magic of editing, finding that, with enough creativity, one could transform seemingly mediocre footage into spectacle. After graduating in 2008, Parra began a career in post-production, working on shows like As We See It, The Secrets of Sulphur Springs, Young Rock, and Rosewood.

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Director Statement

While not an autobiography, Visiting Olivia is a personal story that focuses on foundational elements of myself and many first-generation Americans. It’s a story about reconnecting with people who are physically near but spiritually far and vice versa.

Growing up, I lived back and forth between Texas and the small community of Nuevo Casas Grandes in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. My mother and I fully settled in Dallas when I was in 2nd grade. That hard shift gave me a whole new set of cultural gains, but it was at the expense of the original culture that made me. Revisiting that small community in Mexico can never be the same as when I lived there as a toddler. When coming up with Visiting Olivia, I wanted to portray the idea that even if your heritage is ingrained in who you are, you can still be a complete tourist in it.

While this story is personal, it isn’t at all unique. All Mexican-American and immigrant families at large have to deal with cultural fragmentation in one way or another. For example, a Pew Research Center study found that nearly 70% of second-generation Latinos in the U.S. are bilingual, but fewer than a quarter of third-generation Latinos speak Spanish. However, the differences don’t lie solely within language and traditions; they also lie within emotional sensitivities, progressive versus conservative values, and financial priorities, just to name a few.

The characters in Visiting Olivia embody different facets of this diaspora. Our protagonist, Julian, is all but removed from his Mexican roots. He can still speak Spanish but has spent his formative years trying to fit into a high-brow, educated American world, which has yet to work out for him. Catrina, Julian’s mother, traded Mexico for the U.S. to succeed as best as she could but has had to prioritize her ambition over her family. Olivia is the matriarch who decided to stay put in Mexico and watch as her children slowly left for the U.S. I have had long conversations with friends and family in Mexico and in the U.S. in order to render these characters as accurate as possible.

Olivia’s character, specifically, is presented as a queer person. Her character and her romance with Petra expose the conservative values still very present in modern-day Mexico. A few of my extended family members and I are on the LGBTQ spectrum. And a few are still weary of coming out due to the wrath that’s sure to come from it from the older members. It’s a further example of the cultural divide that deepens within immigrant families, where most 2nd or 3rd generation immigrant members would never think as much about it.

None of these characters are based on anyone in particular, but pieces of myself and the people in my life are in each of them.