An original short film that was nominated for several awards at the 2017 Guam Film Festival premiered at the American Memorial Park Visitors Center last Thursday to highlight discussions on the Marianas experience during World War II.
The film’s director, Mount Carmel School principal Galvin Deleon Guerrero, said he went ahead and decided to showcase his short film as part of the NMI Humanities Council’s discussion program on World War II experiences.
Many of those who attended Thursday’s discussion were either relatives of war survivors, war survivors themselves, or were just interested in the subject of World War II in the Pacific. In recognition of Humanities Month, the topic of focus was the experiences of civilians during the war and how the events impacted civilians.
Deleon Guerrero’s short film, called We Drank Our Tears: Francisco Babauta’s Story, was inspired by a scene from the book We Drank Our Tears, an oral history of the civilian experience of World War II battles on Saipan and Tinian, published by Pacific STAR Young Writers Foundation.
Deleon Guerrero took inspiration from an account of World War II by Carmen Tudela Flores, as told to Christopher Flores Lam, when a family finds shelter in a cave. According to a press kit, “while in the cave, the family survived on food such as coconuts and sugar cane. Spring water was fetched at midnight when the Japanese soldiers would be asleep. On other nights, their tears were all they had to drink.”
The film brought a few audience members to tears and evoked memories for a few. A woman named Aunty Dolling was so moved by the short film that she shared her experience during the war. According to her, she was a little girl when she was forced to hide inside caves for survival during the war. The film brought back memories of her childhood as she too was sometimes unable to find drinkable water. She even remembers the sweet taste of water after the Americans finally liberated them.
According to Deleon Guerrero, he was not expecting to showcase his film in front of an audience on Saipan. He was just so focused on getting the film ready in time for the annual film festival in Guam, in addition to bringing the story to life.
One of the biggest struggles he faced during filming were the tourists who surrounded their shooting grounds.
The film took about two days to film. Filming took place at Ladder Beach and a few shots were taken at the American Memorial Park, according to Deleon Guerrero. He said the filming would’ve been 50 times faster had there been a minimal amount of tourists around during filming.
Deleon Guerrero said the film was a great hit during the festival, with nominations for three awards: Best in Festival, Viewer’s Choice, and Best in Made in the Marianas. Although they didn’t win one, he said he is just happy to be a part of the festival.
The cast consisted of students and former students of Deleon Guerrero at both Mount Carmel School and Northern Marianas College.
The film was written, edited, and directed by Deleon Guerrero and produced by Deleon Guerrero, Rob Travilla, and Frankie Eliptico.