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Filmmaker with HS ties showcased by Diversity in Cannes

by Courtney Edwards | May 21, 2023 at 4:04 a.m.
Lisa Cole, right, is shown with Ethan Mendez, an actor in “Bienvenidos a Los Angeles,” on the set in this photo courtesy of Cole. – Submitted photo

A filmmaker with ties to Hot Springs will have one of her short films showcased at the 2023 Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase on Monday.

Lisa Cole's film "Bienvenidos a Los Angeles" will be showcased by Diversity in Cannes, which promotes the work of diverse filmmakers. The short film is based on a true story about Cole's former babysitter's experience trying to reunite with her son coming back from Mexico through the Los Angeles International Airport, she said.

"He has citizenship, but he got detained at the airport by immigration, and it was a very harrowing night," she said.

"So it's about the true story of what happened that night. It's essentially about three immigrant women helping one another in the city of angels.

"I was also the person that went into the airport to pick him up that night when he got detained by ICE, and so, I also lived that night firsthand with my babysitter Elizabeth. She decided to let me share her story, and so I fictionalized some of it and wrote a short script and I raised money for it and then we filmed at the airport and a couple other places in Los Angeles."

Although she is originally from California, Cole moved to Hot Springs when she was about 10 years old, she said. She graduated from Lake Hamilton High School and then attended the University of Arkansas in Little Rock for about a year, she said.

"I think I draw upon a wellspring of experiences (in Hot Springs), and I'm actually in the process of writing something inspired by my childhood growing up there," she said.

"Still TBD, but I'm working on that next. It was a big change. That's kind of why I'm writing about it. But I do consider Hot Springs home."

Although she now lives in Los Angeles, she still has a home in Hot Springs and splits her time between the cities, she said. She also serves as a board member of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.

After her time at UALR, Cole was accepted into Up With People, an international traveling program, staging song and dance performances. She ended up as the assistant production manager for the organization for two more years, staying with 201 host families in 12 different countries, she said.

She then attended Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, where she studied cinema and television.

"I've always loved film, and because I started out as a dancer as a young person, I loved movement, and I decided to combine my love of movement and cinema into studying filmmaking," Cole said.

"I've been sharing mostly women's stories that are all inspired by true stories, that's really my focus and what makes me excited about storytelling the most," she said. "And giving voice to underrepresented voices and championing those kind of social impact stores as well."

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