Growing up along the Texas and Mexico border, Iliana Sosa knows a few things about hot border city topics. With a Bachelor’s degree in Latin American studies from Southwestern University and an MFA in film production & directing from UCLA, this writer and director has made it her mission to translate these topics to the silver screen. By combining her two passions— current events in the Latino community and film arts, Iliana has made a career out of illustrating prevalent border city issues for the purpose of prompting a dialogue and promoting awareness on various matters. And her most recent project, a stage-to-screen venture of the play, Detained in the Desert, does just that.
Iliana Sosa did not dream of becoming a filmmaker as a child. It wasn’t until college, where she was exposed to countless films charged with Latin American issues, that she even entertained the idea of working in the industry. “It was an awakening for me, seeing those films. Being a Latin American studies major, I was reading and writing a lot about Latino identity. Seeing those films tackle similar issues, I thought, ‘wow’ this is a great medium to do this.”
After graduation, Iliana, with no experience, but plenty of drive, was accepted into the very selective UCLA film & directing program. Since then she has written and directed multiple productions including the 2011 independent film Child of the Desert. Her recent project, Detained in the Desert was originally a play written by playwright Josefina Lopez, writer of Women Have Curves. Impressed by one of her previous works, Josefina reached out to Iliana and the two decided to collaborate on a film version of her play. Detained in the Desert is about two seemingly dissimilar characters, a 20-year-old, second generation, Mexican-American woman who is out of touch with her roots and a conservative talk show host with little compassion for Mexican immigrants. The two end up detained together and during their captivity, the movie explores the topic of immigration from two oppositional sides. According to Sosa, Detained is unique in that it offers a more rounded view of the immigration issue. “The way the media approaches immigration is very one sided or very extremist. This film shows two different sides of it more complexly. There are more gray areas than the media portrays and this film tries to tackle them.”
Like many kids, Iliana once felt the pressure to pursue a career that was safe. However these days, Iliana is living proof that fulfilling one’s passion reaps great rewards. As this project nears completion, there’ no sign of slowing down for Iliana. She continues to make large strides for the Latino community through her work in the film industry. Even after all these years, she still gets a thrill from being in the business of storytelling.“I think women have so much to say, especially Latinas,“ says Sosa. “ There definitely needs to be more women telling stories.”