The upcoming SMPH and UW Health In Community MLK Virtual Event on Friday, Jan. 14 will feature a virtual film screening and conversation of Alejandro Miranda Cruz’s film “Trace the Line.” The conversation will be with the filmmaker himself.
We talked with Miranda Cruz in advance of the screening to learn more about the film and his motivation for making it.
Can you tell us a little bit about the film?
Miranda Cruz: Trace the Line is about two young artists — one black, one white, one male, one female — trying to make sense of 2020. Speaking for myself as an artist, I express what I’m feeling through my art form. And that’s why I wanted to tell this story through those perspectives. Because I wanted to show how art plays a key role in how we express ourselves in these times.
The film is in an interesting style. Yes, it is fictional and completely written as a script. But it takes place in modern times about real events that occurred. It’s talking about the COVID-19 pandemic and talking about social justice issues and race conversations. It tells a story of George Floyd and Jacob Blake. Although it’s a fictional movie, it’s talking about real situations that we’re going through right now.
It was written as the events were unfolding. We were writing about events as we were filming in a very unusual and uncertain way. It was like art mimicking life.
Why are you excited for SMPH and UW Health employees and learners to view this film and join a conversation with you?
Miranda Cruz: This community really understands these issues as well. Incredible people on the front lines saw first-hand the devastation during 2020. The film touches on the mental and spiritual health aspects of that year, and the reality of our bodies being attacked by this pandemic. If we don’t start to talk about these things, they will only get worse.
That is my hope. That we are creating a platform where SMPH and UW Health can have challenging conversations about what we are going through right now, but in a way that is safe where people can be heard and seen and have a dialogue.
If I really think about it, why do the School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health exist? They exist because they are caring for humanity. We need to care for our communities, but also for ourselves. These organizations are helping us do that. I hope that Trace the Line follows that legacy and helps our communities thrive together.
Why focus on artists for the film?
Miranda Cruz: We are at an incredibly important and pivotal time. If you look at American history and all the different movements throughout history, there are always artists involved. Even if you go all the way back to the American Revolution with all the symbols that were being depicted to galvanize individuals. And likewise with the civil rights movement. You had an incredible burst of art in many different forms, from music, paintings, and films.
And now I feel like we’re in a similar era. I hope that Trace the Line can be one of many films trying to raise the collective consciousness of our nation towards the greater good. That’s why I focused on artists because I believe artists can do that.
What motivated you to make this film?
Miranda Cruz: I believe that film can be a catalyst for change. In addition to tackling the pandemic and racial issues, I also made the movie because I want us to have a greater consciousness about our shared humanity and our responsibility to each other and to the earth. My films also depict nature and the healing space that it can be in our lives. I try to show that aspect as well in Trace the Line.
We are at an inflection point, I believe, in this country, in this time, in this world. We have some big decisions that we need to make regarding how we treat each other and how we treat the earth. I hope that films like this and other works of art can continue to help galvanize our communities to strive for the greater good. This is about our human narrative.