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‘A Place Called Sacramento’ gives local filmmakers a stage

Writer, producer and actress Rocky Regino in “Last Chance.”

In 2006, a devastating car accident completely changed 45-year-old Christa Bella’s life.

As she struggled to cope with a psychological trauma caused by the accident, the local actress lost her car, her job as a massage therapist, and she struggled to pay her mortgage during the recession.

To cope, Bella turned to writing. She wrote and self-produced two screenplays that would be featured in the “A Place Called Sacramento” (PCS) film festival.

Bella and nine other aspiring writers, actors and filmmakers will share their work at the Crest Theatre, 1013 K St., on Oct. 7 at 1p.m. as part of the 13th annual festival. Tickets are $10.

The PCS film project began in Febuary with scriptwriting and production workshops coordinated by Access Sacramento, a nonprofit organization providing public access television, radio, and internet sources to the community. Scripts were submitted in April and only 10 were selected in May. Writers had the summer to utilize Access Sacramento studios and self-produce their films, cutting them down to 10 minutes each.

After all 10 films are featured on the big screen, capturing many locations and themes of the area, there will be a prize for audience choice.

Bella’s first PCS film premiered the same year of her accident. It was the “Keeper of the Clay,” a 10-minute story that mirrored her own life: it tells the story of a woman who uses art to overcome psychological trauma caused by a car accident .

Six years later, Bella returns to PCS with a new film titled “Bracero Brothers,” a historical account inspired by Miguel Unzueta, grandfather and owner of the 51-year-old local restaurant, Caballo Blanco, located in Sacramento’s North Franklin Business District.

Unzueta was one of the first Mexican laborers to be brought into to the United States as part of the Bracero Program — a series of agreements between the U.S. and Mexico to that allowed Mexican laborers into the United States to  help compensate for the  decrease in the American workforce during World War II.

“It’s very telling to what’s going on now with a lot of our immigrant issues,” Bella said. “Families were literally fighting with each other. It was a pivotal point in history, and we’re still struggling with it today.”

PCS is also a challenge for many writers who are just now getting their feet wet.

“The hardest part is telling a complete story in that time frame, especially since I was ambitious in filming at six different locations in Sacramento,” said Frank Ingram, a retired chief at the state office of child abuse prevention, as well as writer of “Underwater,” his first PCS film.

Writer/producer Frank Ingram and director Leo McElroy map out a scene for “Underwater”

One thing that most of these artists have in common? Full-time jobs.

Rocky Regino is an actress, bank manager, and first-time PCS screenplay writer. Her film, “Last Chance,” explores the therapeutic effects of community service; a source of solace for the protagonist who struggles to write after the loss of his fiancée

Born and raised in Sacramento, Regino works full-time while pursuing opportunities toward her passion.

“You need to make those opportunities for yourself,” she said. “The main thing I encourage for other people is to do this to make something that you’re proud of.”

To find out more about “A Place Called Sacramento,” visit www.accesssacramento.org

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