Q: What film inspired you to start a career as a filmmaker?
A: I'm not entirely sure if there was a film that sparked my desire to make movies, but Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989) may have been the first movie that made me think that my voice—the ideas, experiences and emotions inside of me—could be heard.
Q: Did you make The Girls on Liberty Street with a specific audience in mind?
A: I always make movies primarily for myself. I also try to fill in wherever I see gaps in cinema, but I couldn't pursue that honestly if I didn't truly believe there were others out there who could find my films relevant or, hopefully, resonant. In the specific case of The Girls on Liberty Street, I made this movie for the people of Aurora, Illinois.
Q: What memorable events happened during the production of The Girls on Liberty Street?
A: The cookout scene in the movie is the actual family of the lead actors in the film (the Zepedas) and my family (the Rangels). We asked them to have a cookout and let us run around with a camera and, of course, they agreed. It is generosity like that which gives a movie like ours a chance to get produced.
Q: What did you learn from working on The Girls on Liberty Street?
A: A director is a collector of great collaborators and great ideas. I don't have to generate all of the best ideas. I just have to hire the right people and recognize when they give ideas that are better than my own. That seems to happen all the time when you hire the right people…and thank God for that!
Q: If you could work with any actor, living or dead, who would it be?
A: I would love to work with Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung, Tahar Rahim, Monica Vitti, Chishu Ryu, Peter Falk, Federico Luppi, John Leguizamo, Jeffrey Wright, Juliette Binoche, Angela Bassett, Joan Allen, Elias Koteas and the list goes on. But, above all, I want to work with Gena Rowlands.
Click here to view screening dates and times for The Girls on Liberty Street.