"Movies that changed me" by Joanne Martinez

Illustration by Amil Barlow

Illustration by Amil Barlow


Joanne Martinez grew up in East LA working in her parents' video store. She attended UC Santa Cruz and studied Film Production. She is currently working on a portfolio to do Art Direction.




Vanilla Sky (2001) by Cameron Crowe
I was obsessed with this film! The soundtrack, the New York backdrop, and what I like to call the love story of Cruise and Cruz. I had one of those TV’s that had a built in VHS player and I would set the last scene of Vanilla Sky as my alarm clock. During this time I was 15 years old and knee deep in the throes of angst. Waking up to that scene helped make it bearable to start my pubescent days into high school hell. Studying this film introduced me to new beautiful things like the Icelandic band Sigur Ros, the Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Parade and Francoise Truffaut’s film "Jules and Jim". I also have to add that I loved this movie so much that my entire day was ruined when a girl in my history class said the movie sucked and that it made no sense.

Amelie (2001) by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
This film is beautiful! I discovered Amelie in 2002. A friend of mine suggested it to me because she said it had reminded her of me. This was probably the first film I had come to relate to. It is the reason why one Mother’s Day I saw a woman eating soup alone in a restaurant and I chased her down to give her a flower. This film is also the reason my dad had to get me piano lessons. This masterpiece helped me see the world differently and it made me see that I could be a positive force in it. At the time, I suppose I was building the foundation of who I am now and what I wanted from the world and I’m still trying to live up to my 16 year old standards.

Breathless (1960) by Jean-Luc Godard
I was 19 years old when I was watching this film everyday, another French film that had captured me. I had recently discovered Audrey Hepburn and watching Jean Seberg in her striped dress smoking in Paris only made it more certain that I had to have a pixie hair cut. A hair cut that was not common at all in 2005 in the streets of East Los Angeles. This is how I knew that I wanted to travel, that I wanted to learn other languages, and that I wanted to start wearing dresses. This film is also the reason why I had to Google “How to walk in high heels.“

Possession (1981) by Andrzej Zulawski
This film was on one night on Turner Classic Movies. I watched it right before I went to bed. The following days were what I like to call “My obsession with Possession.” The film is dark and crazy. A film about a marriage that is falling apart but add in a tentacle monster and a sex scene you can never forget. Never. At the time I had just broken up with a boyfriend and perhaps this is why my palette for horror and bizarre films had expanded. This film led me down a path of chilling and uncomfortable movies that I had never before thought I could consume. I started watching Harmony Korine and Lars Von Trier. I had become so comfortable watching pretty and happy movies that watching these dark films helped me find a balance of my personal horrors. I think that having been exposed to these types of films has guided me to find
my own voice to the types of films I want to make.

There’s Something About Mary (1998) by the Farrelly Brothers
When I think about it now, it’s pretty funny that this is the film that made me realize that I wanted to become a filmmaker. It wasn’t "Citizen Kane" or some other cinematic important film, but a comedy by the Farrelly Brothers. I remember the moment exactly. I was re-watching "There’s Something About Mary" in the back room of my parents’ video store, (which should have been the dead give away). The film had just ended and at the end the whole cast is singing, “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations. I saw how fun it looked to make a movie and I started to wonder about all the things that happen while making the movie that we don’t get to see. That’s when I knew I wanted to make movies. That’s when me and my brother started making dumb VHS movies of us singing, “Young at Heart” by Frank Sinatra in my bedroom with Tobey Maguire posters in the background.


Marisol de Jesus