Care Dorghalli wins the Emerging Artist Award and BEST of FEST

by Abigail Richardson from MY HERO Staff


The MY HERO Project is delighted to announce that Care Dorghalli is the recipient of The 2023 MY HERO International Film Festival Emerging Artist Award and her Film Down the Road has won 'BEST OF FEST'!

Care Dorghalli has been experimenting with video production since she was an undergraduate at California State University, Chico. But she only considered herself a filmmaker when she began her master’s program at the University of Southern California. Care is soon to graduate with a master of fine arts in film and television production.

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Care submitted an excerpt of Down the Road, her outstanding thesis film, to the 2023 MY HERO International Film Festival where it has won three awards: BEST OF FEST, the Relationships First and the Humanitarian Awards. Care also also been honored with the 2023 MY HERO Emerging Artists Award. 

Said Wendy Milette, Film Festival Director: "Care Dorghalli is a promising filmmaker with the ability to engage an audience with meaningful stories that inspire humanitarian values. She approaches documentary filmmaking with creative insight and human connection. It is an honor to recognize Care Dorghalli with the 2023 MY HERO Emerging Artist Award."

You can watch an excerpt of the film here:


MY HERO interviewed Care about the process of making Down the Road:

Could you please tell us about yourself in relation to your film?

I woke to find a looming cloud billowing over a ridge on Nov. 8, 2018. Its orange and purple hues were unlike anything I had ever seen before. After further investigation, I realized it wasn’t a cloud. It was smoke. The Camp Fire, the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California history, had just begun its rage. My family was forced to evacuate. We were eventually able to return home, but not all were. 18,000 structures were destroyed. 85 lives were lost. The town of Paradise, California was never the same.

At the time, I was a journalist at my hometown newspaper. I desperately wanted to provide my community with a glimmer of good news. I found a father and 6-year-old daughter who drove across state lines to donate an RV to a family that lost its home to the inferno. Their names are Woody and Luna.

My stories about their random act of kindness went viral, prompting people nationwide to do the same. Woody and Luna were so inspired that they founded a nonprofit devoted to housing survivors of natural disasters nationwide. I’ve been following their progress since. Today, they have donated over 120 RVs to survivors of wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. Their work seems to have no end. That’s because climate change continues to wreak havoc.

Merely two years after the Camp Fire, my community was ravaged once more. I was jolted awake by thunder and looked out the window to see smoke rising again. This time, it was in my front yard. A dry thunderstorm rolled through the area. Lightning rained down, sparking dozens of fires. The one by my house was quickly extinguished, but not all were.

The remaining fires converged to create the Bear Fire. The town of Berry Creek, California was devastated. Woody and Luna returned to deliver more RVs to volunteer firefighters who lost their homes while saving lives. Nearly all was lost, including my immigrant father’s business, Village Market. My family was suddenly in the story I was covering. These wildfires have affected me on a personal level.

When it came time to choose a topic for my thesis documentary, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Camp Fire and Bear Fire. I pitched a film about Woody and Luna and was immediately greenlit by my professors. Luna narrates this film because she’s the reason the story exists. Woody would not be doing this work were it not for his daughter. She’s his ultimate inspiration. She keeps him going. I’ve seen this family change lives before my eyes.

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This documentary explores a loving relationship between a father and daughter and the ripple effect it continues to have nationwide. I made this film to raise awareness of the havoc wrought in my community and to provide audiences with an opportunity to help by supporting Woody and Luna’s work. I believe documentary filmmaking is a powerful avenue toward change. Woody and Luna have hundreds of people on their waitlist: people desperate for shelter. I’m eager to see where this film goes and the implications it will have at home.

What other issues are most important to you and why?

The climate crisis is extremely important to me, as well as matters of immigration. I’m a first-generation daughter of immigrants. I have many family members who are refugees all over the world.

What was it like for you to make this film? What were some of the challenges, successes, and high points?

This film was incredibly difficult to make because of how personal it was. It was an extremely emotional process. I knew I had to do right by the story and characters. I needed to make something that could lead to social change. That was the goal. Thankfully, I feel like I accomplished that.

Do you have a mentor or a personal hero?

My personal heroes are my parents. They immigrated to this country with the dream of creating a better life for their children. They succeeded. I’m so proud of them.

What's next for you?

I’m currently producing a thesis film about the exploitation of child migrant workers.

How important is it to you to have won awards at the 19th MY HERO International Film Festival?

It’s important to me that my film has been honored at the My Hero 19th International Film Festival because it just affirms that the characters of my film are real-life heroes. They can’t be seen as anything less. It truly is a wonder what they’ve been able to accomplish. So many lives have been changed by the kindness and goodness of their hearts. It makes me emotional to think about.

The Relationships First Award

The Foundation for the Contemporary Family presents the Relationships First Award, honoring short films that depict in innovative ways the powerful and poignant connections in any type of contemporary family relationship. Said the judges: "Your film reflects a very powerful relationship between Woody and Luna, as well as with all of the people whom they help along the way."

The MY HERO International Film Festival

The MY HERO International Film Festival is an annual event dedicated to showcasing films of up to 10 minutes in length that celebrate the power of the human spirit. Categories include documentary, narrative, music video, experimental, and animation. There are Special Awards, with cash prizes, for films with themes of Peace, Activism, Women Transforming Media, Relationships, Immersive Storytelling, Youth Reporters, and Sing for Hope Music Videos.

Philanthropist and mentor Eva Haller is hosting the Virtual Awards Ceremony for The 19th Annual MY HERO International Film Festival on November 18, 2023, at 2 PM PST, as part of her weekly salon series. You can register your interest HERE.


Page created on 11/10/2023 1:00:57 PM

Last edited 11/27/2023 6:43:23 PM