A report by Tammy Murga for The Signal.
The COVID-19 quarantine provided some with time to catch up on their favorite TV series or try a new hobby, but for Valencia resident Jeff Bomberger, it has earned him a ticket to the Catalina Film Festival.
And not as a regular spectator, but as the (mostly) one-man show behind his short film “Un Hombre Debe Aprender” (A Man Must Learn), which is part of a small pool of official selections scheduled to premiere at the festival’s Carpool Cinema Drive-In red carpet event in Long Beach on Saturday, Sept. 26.
The script was inspired by “unusual circumstances,” he described, brought forth by the pandemic, albeit something many could relate to, to an extent.
“When the whole COVID thing hit and grocery stores were running low on supplies (and) restaurants were closed, something as fundamental as getting food became a challenge,” he said. “A part of me thought it would be an oddly relatable backdrop to make light of my own journey integrating these unique aspects of my family history.”
The film humorously looks at the protagonist Guy, a man of American and Cuban heritage — played by Bomberger and inspired by his roots — who prefers to have food delivered to his home rather than risk infection by going outside but finds that the only place that can deliver is Las Muchachas. The only person who can take his order, however, is a fast-speaking, Spanish-speaking woman (played by Bomberger’s mother) with whom Guy cannot communicate because he only speaks English.
This is where the film delves into Bomberger’s personal journey to embrace his Cuban roots, he said.
“I saw this as an opportunity to explore my Cuban roots and the stories, history and culture of my family, as well as make light of a very serious situation with the pandemic,” he said, “And, truly, this film was a labor of love and shared with my family and friends.”
Bomberger, who was a child actor and has worked on several behind-the-scenes projects, said he wrote, shot and edited the short film in just over a week, resulting in a 15-minute short comedy.
“Embedded in the story are very real issues we face, from wrestling with the anxieties of COVID to us learning how to become a more culturally integrated people, but at the end of the day I hope we can all laugh at an overgrown man-child complaining about having to eat a jar of Veganaise for dinner,” he said, adding that he is also working on a “more serious” film about his grandparents’ escape from Cuba under former Prime Minister Fidel Castro.
“Un Hombre Debe Aprender” will premiere worldwide online at the Catalina Film Festival in addition to the drive-in event. For more information, visit catalinafilm.org.