It was a big night for the local actors showcased in an independent film with a Sun City connection.
"Ilegales," a feature film shot in West El Paso and Southern New Mexico over 18 days, had its hometown premiere Saturday night during the Plaza Classic Film Festival in Downtown El Paso. The worldwide debut was last month in New York City for the HBO International Latino Film Festival.
"Ilegales" is written from the perspective of immigrants and addresses the social, economic, and political impact of immigration from all sides.
Director Ric Dupont said he was excited about Saturday night's turnout.
"The best thing is it's sold out. I'm glad. I think I'm actually going to have to give my ticket away to somebody because it's sold out. We've got family here and there aren't enough tickets," he said.
Many of the moviegoers were actually actors in the film themselves, including ABC-7 editor Art Portillo.
"I'm hoping that the film helps the actors, and localizes El Paso so more films can be made in El Paso," he said.
Eric Pearson with the El Paso Community Foundation, which is responsible for the festival, told ABC-7 it's important to support home-grown talent.
"We've seen a lot of jaws drop here," he said. "El Paso does have an art scene. A lot of people are making great films and we want to help that flourish."
Producer Jacob Prokluda, who has roots in the borderland, said the film had been in the works for about a year.
"Here it's just been really well received, by the media especially." He added, "The local talent was great".
Meanwhile, moviegoers said they hoped locally-produced films would shine the spotlight on the Sun City and encourage more directors to choose El Paso as a location.
"Hopefully, it will recognize some of the actors," said retired teacher Arturo Dominguez before stepping into the screening.
The second screening of "Ilegales"at 7:30 p.m. Sunday night has also sold out.