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Award-winning Latino filmmaker in Denver sharing passion with future moviemakers

Alan Dominguez teaches at Denver magnet school
alan dominguez_latino filmmaker.jpg
Posted at 5:42 PM, Oct 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-22 13:23:59-04

DENVER — Like many of us, Alan Dominguez didn’t always know what he wanted to be when he grew up.

“I was pretty aimless,” Dominguez said.

Fortunately for him, that aimlessness didn’t last long.

“When I was in high school, I remember watching 'The Color of Money' from Martin Scorsese and Paul Newman and that was... that really got me to thinking about what a film-maker actually does,” Dominguez said. “I’ll never forget the moving pool ball as Paul Newman is doing the break with his lightning rod cue stick,” Dominguez said. “I will never forget that. That was the moment.”

That moment changed the trajectory of life for Dominguez — and he’s been making movies ever since. First short films, then fiction and, eventually, documentaries.

“I really pivoted to non-fiction in 2002,” Dominguez said. “It felt very democratic. It felt like anybody could do this.”

And he’s been recognized internationally for his award-winning films.

“I’ve been invited to show films at the Morelia National Film Festival in Mexico a couple of times,” Dominguez said. “And possibly a third coming up. I’m very proud of that because Latino film makers in Mexico sometimes have a hard time getting noticed.”

It’s that passion that led him to the classroom.

When he’s not making movies, Dominguez is teaching about the craft of cinematography. For more than a decade now, he’s been teaching kids how to bring their ideas to life on-camera.

“This is my 13th year here at CEC,” Dominguez said.

Denver CEC, or Career Education Center, is a magnet school and early college.

“He’s become like a mentor to me,” said CEC senior student Stefanie Olivan. “He knows who I am.”

“This idea of film-making inspires me a lot,” said Octavio Sanchez, sophomore at CEC. “It’s one of the main reasons I chose this school.”

“Mr. Dominguez is one of the coolest teachers that I’ve ever had,” said TamiLyn Lechuga, a senior at CEC. “I’m not just saying that. He just cares a lot about the students and you can tell. He’s very genuine.”

“I’m able to show students part of their culture that they perhaps didn’t know about, or knew very little about,” Dominguez said. “Watching them take a story and make it their own, is magic. They smile and push themselves back from their computer, and they’re like, ‘Wow. I really did tell a story.”

“I find it interesting how a producer can take this idea or imaginary thought they had into real life through cinematography,” Sanchez said.

“And when you string together several moments of magic, you’ve created this miraculous thing that we call cinema,” Dominguez said.

A filmmaker, a Denver classroom and the students who dare to dream.

“Ever since I was in middle school, I always dreamed of creating movies, my own films and stuff,” Olivan said. “When I heard that this school offered that, I jumped at the chance.”

“They’ll say, ‘What’s the one bit of advice you can tell us?’ And I’ll say, ‘Never completely grow up,’” Dominguez said.