We had the good fortune of connecting with Damiana Acuña and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Damiana, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
How to know whether to keep going or to give up?

 This question resonates with me because I ask it to myself every single day. 
I ask myself if this difficult, demanding, unpredictable and wild dream of mine is worth the endless sacrifices. Some of these sacrifices are well known to our families and friends, but others, the hardest ones I believe, are kept private. Moving countries, spending money we don’t have and more time than we can count are only but the surface. Beneath lies the wondering, the weight of our decision to become artists, the fear of failure, of having spent our youth pursuing something that might not come to be, that might slip through our fingers just as we finally get close enough to reach for it. 
 As an artist and particularly as a film director, I believe we are reaching for something ethereal, something that only ourselves can see beyond the horizon. Something that calls to us, wether as a story, as an image, as a feeling or an instant. It gives us vision and guides us. 
The call as an artist is a tormenting one. It is as luminous as it is dark. But if the call is truthful I believe we come to find an inexhaustible source of energy, willpower and inspiration inside of us that makes the keep going easier than the giving up. 
If we remain true to why we chose this path, to why we are making a particular project and to what we envision that project to be, I believe we will always find the spark to feed the fire. 

 I also believe that with experience comes a combination of wisdom and humility that I’m constantly working on acquiring. 
Reaching out to others to help you along the journey and choosing these collaborators wisely can make all the difference. 
I recently had the experience of finishing production on the hardest project of my short career and I could not have done so without the talent, support and unwavering commitment of a cherished group of fellow filmmakers. 
The path is lonely, most of the time, but on occasion we might be fortunate enough to have others willing to walk next to us, making the long trip just a tiny bit easier.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m a Mexican film director graduating from the American Film Institute Conservatory with a Master of Fine Arts Degree. 
I was born in Mexico City but grew up in the countryside and the pastorale setting of my childhood has always informed my work. 
Marked by family tragedy, I developed a deep existential awareness. I began to wonder if there was something more to the wind blowing through the trees, to the thunder that would make the windows of my home tremble and the lights go out. 
I would wonder if there was something more as I became drawn to the deep, to the contemplation of life and those mere instants that make us marvel at it in awe. 
I developed a sensibility that needed to be poured somewhere and because no other art had ever moved me as a film could, I decided to pledge myself to this medium. 
I’m interested in poetic and visual storytelling that focuses on female led narratives. 
I hunt for the sublime through the ethereal, the profound and the philosophical. 

 Getting here has not been easy and I’m just getting started. 
I’m a proud recipient of the Mexican scholarship FONCA-CONACYT. These amongst other institutions such as Cine Qua Non Lab have helped me not lose hope. I intend to make my first feature film a binational project that will take me back to the house where I grew up and that will bridge it together with Los Angeles, where I currently live. 
I believe that I have been incredibly fortunate to have the chance to follow my artistic dream and being aware of this privilege, I feel compelled to tell personal stories and stories that resonate deeply and truthfully with me as to empower others to tell their own. 
 To anyone wanting to pursue an artistic or creative career, to anyone wanting to make that career change late in their lives, to anyone with something beating painfully in their hearts, I urge you to listen to that voice deep within you and to let it out. 
You are not alone.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
As the solitary type, I would mainly recommend places of appreciation of nature. Watching the sun set from the Griffith Observatory on a week day. Hiking Los Angeles National Forest or Wildwood Regional Park where any trail is worth the visit. Taking a walk at dusk anywhere that is quiet as to contemplate the particular quality that the light has in Los Angeles during that time when day meets the night. The electric hues of the sky and how they contrast with the warmth inside of homes. Before the apocalypse, I would have recommended watching a film at the Los Feliz Theatre or checking out Skylight bookstore but now, I’d recommend doing what you can to stay inspired and grounded even from the confines of your home.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to my thesis team and mentors at the American Film Institute Conservatory. They know who they are and I will not grow tired of thanking them for the support they have shown me. 
 I would also like to thank my father whose undying generosity and loving encouragement have made it possible for me to chase after this dream whilst growing in mind, heart and most of all, spirit. Last but not least, I thank my partner who has moved mountains for me.

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/damianaac/
Other: https://vimeo.com/damianaac

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