About the Film

An icon and an immigrant bond over tacos and tequila in this microstory of the American Dream.

“Chilangos in the House” is part of a larger video biography of Leo Cervantes, a well-loved chef and restaurateur in Highlands, New Jersey. “Chilangos” are people from Mexico City, like Leo. Chilangos is also the name of Leo’s restaurant. I made this film to help Leo tell his remarkable life story. Leo wants to use his story of struggle and success to encourage his family, friends and fellow immigrants to persevere through hard times. With a background in independent documentary and international human rights, I make video biographies to help people capture and share their life stories.

Carol Cassidy

City: Highlands
State: New Jersey
Country: United States
SMS voting: Text “FOF13” to 22333, or click on the links below from your smartphone
SMS Vote (Android): text FOF13
SMS Vote (iPhone): text FOF13

An Interview with Carol Cassidy

What has been a real high point point for you in creating this film? What excites you about your submission to the FilmOneFest?
Leo Cervantes lives a remarkable story of joyful courage in the face of overwhelming odds.

I’m especially excited about the festival’s potential to reach an audience of local people who may already recognize Leo and love his food – without knowing his story of struggle and triumph. Leo is well-loved in our community for his generous spirit. For example, after hurricane Sandy, Leo brought his Chilangos team to the high school, and, day after day, created beautiful, nourishing food for all the storm refugees sheltering there. Because he is known as cheerful and energetic, people may not know that Leo has deep personal experience of poverty, homelessness and loss. Leo’s story plays well locally, and it is also a universal story about an immigrant’s dream of opportunity.

A questions about “One Minute” films: As you think about one minute films, what kinds of possibilities are there for this medium? What does it mean to you particularly?

These films are crafted to delve deeply into one pure thought at a time. They are tiny meditations. They encourage an actual practice of living in the moment. These films are as disciplined as Haiku and as fleeting as life itself. They can be a reminder of our own bounded nature – a momento mori – a reminder of death, a bell tolling to say that we all will die. If we embrace our mortality, we can more deeply appreciate life while we live and breathe.

The one-minute film is a model for bringing passionate attention to our brief, finite, intense life.

In addition to being a great match for a summertime, outdoor, diverse crowd experience, One Minute Films are perfect for on-line viewing. They command intense attention – but only for a moment. They’re the right bite size for the way we live now: busy, distracted, overwhelmed with media bombardment, and in need of a splashing dash of spiritual refreshment.

Talk a little about your influences: If you think about the gifts and skills you bring to film-making, what do you find energizes you most? What inspires you or compels you in your art form, and in what ways are you inspired?

My background is in independent documentary and international human rights. I have worked in war zones, refugee camps and disaster areas, in countries including Burma, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Uganda, Bolivia and Peru.

I love helping people from all backgrounds capture and share their life stories. I love to discover the extraordinary courage, passion and grace in a so-called ordinary life.