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Representing ‘our cultura’: ‘I want to bring our stories to the world,’ New Mexico filmmaker says

Editor’s note: Venue Plus continues “In Case You Didn’t Know,” a weekly feature with fun tidbits about New Mexicans and their projects.

Film has always been at the forefront for Diego Joaquín López.

This goes back to his days of roaming the halls at Española Valley High School. He then continued at the University of New Mexico and College of Santa Fe to study filmmaking.

Today, López is a triple threat, as an actor, writer and director.

He’s been working

New Mexico-based filmmaker Diego Joaquín López is working on two film projects. (Courtesy of Diego Joaquín López)

on a script called “Off the Grid” with Omar Paz Trujillo.


“Basically, it’s a psychological thriller set in Chimayó,” López says. “I love the magic and mysticism of our culture.”

The story takes place on an organic farm where people begin to disappear.

Diego Joaquín López, in driver’s seat, dressed as a calavera for a photo shoot. (Courtesy of Nikki Bustos)

“They are living off the grid, and there is no contact with the outside world,” he says. “It’s a crazy little story. I love writing stories that show the dark underbelly of society. I love representing our cultura – the good, the bad and the ugly.”

López says the story stems from his love for legends such as La Llorona.

“The feeling of when you’re with the familia and you are sharing the spooky story,” he says. “Those are the ones I love best.”

López is also working on a project that is highlighting lowriders and their culture in New Mexico.

“It’s some experimental cinema that represents the cultura and carnalismo,” he says. “We’re having fun with it. We’re going to the cruises in Burque, Santa and Spaña. It’s showing what a beautiful thing it is.”

López isn’t directing it, but he’s working with up-and-coming filmmaker Makaio Frazier.

López wants to be a force in the New Mexico film industry.

“I want to bring our stories to the world,” he says. “Now that New Mexico has the blossoming film industry, a lot of projects are coming from outside the state. It’s important that we, as New Mexico filmmakers, represent. Everything that is happening inspires me to be able to play off the creative energy. We need that so much.”

“Pearlescent Cruz” is an oil on canvas by Diego Joaquín López. (Courtesy of the artist)

Aside from film, López has also kept busy with his art.

“It’s been my first love,” he says. “My parents are artists, and I’ve been influenced by it since I was a child. It’s always great to have a chance to create in a different medium.”

López will continue to work in various mediums. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about him:

1 “I am a visual artist. I paint in oil and acrylic paint, usually on canvas and wood, although I have been known to get down with some of my favorite artist friends and familia on some wicked murals. My roots stem from my parents, master artists José Benjamín López (Ben) and Irene López.”

2 “I am from Española, and YES, I do have a lowrider, a 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air, and I am proud of it!”

3 “I run a small community-based organization called Hands Across Cultures that concentrates on substance abuse prevention, arts and cultural enrichment for our youth in northern New Mexico. La cultura cura.”

4 “Growing up in the Land of Enchantment, I have always been drawn to the spooky stories of strange happenings, brujeria and curanderismo . The veil is thin between the realms of the living and the dead!”

5 “I am a big fan of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).”

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