Walther “Kino” Vera is a sophomore English major with a concentration in film at Montclair State University. He takes his experience in film and television, combined with his studies at Montclair State, to make forward-thinking and expansive films.
Vera spent his adolescent life growing up in Peru, where he thought he wanted to be a soccer player.
“I think [that] all the Latin guys want to be soccer players,” Vera said. “But I was not a good player. I was playing for a middle league and one coach told me I was not a good player and it’s better to find another profession.”
Vera found interest and skill in photography and short story writing in high school. During this time, Peruvian theaters only released about one movie per year, so he took his passion to Europe.
Prior to his studies at Montclair State, the 38-year-old studied television and entertainment in Spain, at the CEV Center of Video Studies in Madrid, where he lived from 2000 to 2009. He came to the United States six years ago to work with a French production company before transferring to Montclair State in January 2020.
Vera is currently working on “Esperanza Perdida,” a film that explores the corruption of the gambling industry in the Dominican Republic and how it is connected to the industry in New York City.
Vera first got involved in “Esperanza Perdida” after meeting actor Diogenes Carrasco in an airport, whose real life story Vera is using to base the film on.
“[Carrasco] is from [the] Dominican Republic and he has a wonderful fiction movie project,” Vera said. “For me, the most interesting [thing] was his personal story. He wanted to talk [about] the story of his mother through a fiction movie. I [was] impressed [by] his emotions [and] the way he was talking about the project. I thought, ‘no, this is not a fiction, this is [a] documentary,’ because all the feelings [and] all the passion he has inside must be reflected in the movie.”
Vera said the project is interesting because of the corruption in the Dominican Republic. Having grown up in Peru, he says he identified with the topic as it related to his home country.
The project, which began in June, started filming in the Dominican Republic this fall. Vera is currently in post-production and is aiming for an early 2021 release.
Professor Raul Galoppe, the chairperson of Spanish and Latino studies at Montclair State, is one of Vera’s professors.
“I like his approach to this documentary,” Galoppe said. “It’s very honest. He allows the subjects to represent themselves.”
Vera also credits his classes, such as film movements, for helping with his current filming projects and notes that the rest of his courses were put to good use in the Dominican Republic as well.
Mark Rotella, the director of the Coccia Institute for the Italian Experience in America, commended Vera for his dedication and engagement in classes.
“He is always the first student to offer critiques,” Rotella said. “His critiques are always concise and vivid, just as one would expect a filmmaker to be.”
Critiques are not the only thing Vera brings to classes. According to Sangeeta Parashar, associate professor of sociology, his experiences from all around the world add much to classroom discussions.
“A seasoned traveler, [Vera] turns his engaging and in-depth explorations of the world around him into insightful films that have the potential to elicit meaningful dialogue and change,” Parashar said. “Indeed, his unwavering enthusiasm and the comparative perspective he brings to class discussions in introduction to global issues [class], helps further [Montclair State’s] mission of enabling global citizen-participants.”
As of November 2020, Vera has been in Panama curating a film festival. Looking to the future, he would like to finish a project that he started years ago. He received scholarships for the script he wrote that went toward his studies in Europe, which launched him into film festivals in France, Argentina, Brazil, Panama and many other countries.
“I realized I [was] not ready [to] do that project, more than 10 years ago,” Vera said. “Even now, I am not ready [to] do that project. My goal is [to] be ready one day to make that project a good project. It’s a personal project [because] it’s a project about the shamanism in my family.”
Until then, Vera is looking forward to getting more involved at Montclair State.
“I would be more than happy to get involved [with] college life, the people and contribute as well as bring to light beautiful stories,” Vera said.
Vera’s successes have only just begun. This worldwide filmmaker is one to keep an eye out for.