Arts and Culture

Filmmaker Clifton Archuleta finds room to Breathe in Pueblo

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Why did you choose to go to Pueblo to film Breathe?

I'm from Pueblo. Colorado's a beautiful state; that's why I live here. What interests me the most about our state are the people. You have all these different industries -- specifically, mining down in Pueblo -- and those industries have built cities. They've built states. They built a part of the country. Colorado Fuel and Iron in Pueblo was the largest factory still manufacturing in the western part of the United States at one point. It was a major part of U.S. history. It's now owned my some Russian companies or something.

It still functions at a different capacity -- it's more automated, and there's not as many people involved. That whole area surrounding it, called Bessemer, was this cultural melting pot. Italians were out there, Eastern Europeans, Hispanics, Irish -- it was this weird place in the middle of the West. I'm very interested in how that's affected the town. If you travel to some of these smaller towns -- Trinidad, Pueblo -- they feel very different from other cities in Colorado. There's a sense of isolation there.

Bessemer is like a poor area, but the kids are playing in the streets. It's safe, there's a sense of community there. I don't see that [in Denver]. Every evening people go out on their porches and sit. You don't find that in the city.

What is the basic plot of your most recent film, Breathe?

It should be about ten minutes. It's about a teenage girl, she's sixteen in the story, and it's a super-hot summer day. She's stuck watching her sister. We don't ever see the mother or father, but in my mind, she's a single parent probably working at the plant. Her sister ends up having a minor asthma attack. They use the last of the inhalers, so she embarks on this journey to replace it.

In the opening scene she sees this skateboarder guy with his friends, and there's this connection that's never resolved. So she goes perhaps to look for him, but also to do this task. She ends up running into the boy, and you can see they like each other. There's some unresolved tension from their last encounter when she had to run inside to help her sister. So they start to open up to each other, and then her sister shows up and embarrasses her. So they leave after giving the boy her number.

Then she gets a text from her mom saying she'll be home late, and she gets frustrated because she just wants to be a kid enjoying summer. Without giving it away, there's a big blow-up, and she has to make a very difficult decision about how to handle the situation.

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Natalie Gonzalez