The winner of the Metzger Fine Arts Scholarship, offered to high school graduates in San Benito County, is Cristian Almanza, an 18-year-old Anzar High School senior who has experience in photography and videography. This year, he produced a six-and-a-half minute video about field workers. Retired teacher and scholarship coordinator, Gerry Wright, said the judges appreciated Almanza’s early dedication to his craft and personal statements about what filmmaking means to him.
“The principal told me about the art scholarship and it intrigued me, Almanza said. “Basically, I just wrote about how I got involved in movie making and videography. I explained how it helped me.”
Applications for the $500 Metzger Fine Arts scholarship were accepted from all the San Benito County high schools. The award is named after local singer, Martha Metzger.
Almanza said he was surprised that he was the one selected. He told BenitoLink, “I thought, oh, they probably picked someone from San Benito High and then I was on the bus and I got a text saying, ‘You got the scholarship!’”
Almanza chose history and art as his “graduation exposition,” a four-year unique area of study required of all Anzar students. “I decided to do the topic of field work since El Teatro Campesino is so closely connected to the farm workers’ struggle and how they used their creativity to bring about change which greatly help the exploration of my topic,” Almanza said about the video he created.
“I chose to show the skills of apple tree pruning because I wanted to give a peek to the viewers into the world of a farm workers and the labor they do. An El Teatro Campesino worker told me they knew an apple tree farm manager that would allow me to record the apple tree pruning,” he said. Almanza noted that his grandparents are originally from Oaxaca, Mexico and his parents came to America separately and met at a party in California.
Almanza said his father has been a strong influence on his love for photography. He told BenitoLink that when his father came to the U.S. he became an intern for a local radio station and eventually got a job at Channel 67 Entravicion. Almanza said that after working there for about 10 years, his father was told by a coworker that there was a position open for a cameraman at Univision 14, formally based in San Francisco but now in San Jose.
Almanza’s father got the job and his pay doubled. He has been a cameraman with Univision 14 KDTV for about 15 years.
Almanza will graduate next week and has been given the opportunity through a donation of a private donor to produce short videos for BenitoLink this summer.
“I’m looking forward to graduating from Anzar High school and starting out my life in the real world. When I have the time, I plan on traveling as much as possible and also improving my filmmaking skills along the way,” he said.
The senior will be attending San Francisco City College in the fall and plans to study filmmaking.