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World Premiere

Director: Mauricio Sierra

Mexico, 2022, 15 min

Shooting Format:Digital

Festival Year:2023

Category:Narrative Short

WINNER: Grand Chameleon Award and Best Narrative Short

Cast:Atl Clementina Garcia Lopez, Mónica del Carmen, Ishbel Bautista, Armando Corea Hernandez, Jose Antonio Becerril, Josafat Isaís Tuyub Ku, Zuendy Hernandez, Zueyri Hernandez, Jorge Alejandro Burgos

Crew:Writer: Walker Kalan. Producers: Leon Estrada, David Kohan, Mauricio Sierra, Walker Kalan.


An impressionistic fable, seen through the eyes of a young misfit named Ciela, who forms a secret friendship with an octopus. As her fantasy world collides with reality, Ciela sets off a chain of events that disrupt her sleepy fishing village.


About the director

Mau Sierra es un director, fotógrafo y artista visual basado en Ciudad de México. Como director comercial ha trabajado en campañas globales con marcas como NETFLIX, NIKE, CHANEL & LOUIS VUITTON, su trabajo ha aparecido en publicaciones como VOGUE, I-D Magazine, Interview Magazine. Este short film está dedicado a su hija Constance y a su abuela Lela.


Mau Sierra is a director, photographer and visual artist, born and based in Mexico City. As a commercial director, he has worked on campaigns for Nike, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. His work has appeared in Vogue, I-D and Interview. This film is dedicated to his daughter, Constance.


Filmmaker's note

I feel a special kinship to the protagonist in Ciela. I was bullied a lot in grade school, and withdrew into my imagination. On the outside, I was the quietest kid in class, but beneath my shy exterior, there was a raging river of escapist fantasy and crippling insecurity.

As an adult, my imagination still takes over my reality. I’ve channeled that creative energy through my work as a fashion photographer and commercial director, within an ecosystem fueled by beauty and perfection. But since becoming a father four years ago, I’ve begun to grapple with the consequences of this beauty-obsessed image-making.

Ciela is an exploration of a child’s struggle with self-image and isolation. It is a modern fable, exploring the road to self-acceptance — a road littered with obstacles and few clear signs to point you the way home. It is the story I wish I was told as a child, and the story I hope to share with my daughter.

Ciela is also a celebration of the rhythms, textures and traditions of life in rural Mexico. One of my deepest inspirations for this film is the Mexican folk art tradition known as ex-votos. These are small paintings on scraps of metal, which typically depict a miracle – a child surviving a drowning, say, or a farmer growing crops despite a terrible drought – accompanied by a handwritten narrative.

I’ve drawn from the allegorical quality of these paintings, and from their dynamic visual compositions. In the way an entire story can be told through a single ex-voto image, I hope that the story of Ciela can be understood without subtitles.

Ex-voto images are often described as “naïve,” which feels a little condescending. But I choose to take a positive meaning from this descriptor. For me, the works belong to the people, rather than the institutions and those in power – and the imagery reflects the way that stories are passed down by word of mouth, from generation to generation.

I imagine Ciela as a product of this kind of storytelling. A shared experience, shaped and refracted through collective memory.

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