Mario Contreras, Harper Faculty and Alumni

I had a slow start at Harper College, but it was there that I discovered my love for film and anthropology. When I transferred to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, I combined those two passions into a newly found interest in documentary filmmaking. My first documentary was about the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride and I've stayed with the art form and Civil Rights Movement ever since.

I then went to Columbia College Chicago to become a stronger storyteller and learn to teach. My MFA thesis film Familia Bom Brill was about my courtship and marriage to fellow Harper alumni, Diana Gabriel.

Diana and I met in a drawing class at Harper College and both teach in the art department. We also collaborate through The Contreras-Gabriel Project, a creative platform for artists and audiences with a shared vision of increasing appreciation and accessibility of Art. I currently teach Intro to Film at Harper College and continue to make short, independent documentaries that revolve around my family, cultural identity, and the struggle for immigrant rights. My latest project, My Father's Knee, is a web series that compares my experience as a Chicano in the Midwest to my father's as a Mexican immigrant.

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