Ruth Mataya Garcia.

The Julien Dubuque International Film Festival will take place April 18-25. Visit julienfilmfest.com for more information.

Title: “Aturdir.”

Genre: Drama short.

Country: USA.

Run time: 14 minutes.

Director: Ruth Mataya Garcia.

Producer: Ruth Mataya Garcia.

Writer: Ruth Mataya Garcia.

Synopsis: Based on events from Garcia’s childhood, “Aturdir” is a story of a little girl, her abusive mother and the courageous teacher who reached out to help.

Behind the scenes: “Aturdir” was filmed on location in Dubuque and the surrounding area, including Galena, Ill., and Farley, Iowa.

“The word ‘aturdir’ means to be stunned, in Spanish,” Garcia said. “And that’s how I felt through much of my childhood.”

Garcia found her star, then 13-year-old Leia McCrary, of Atlanta, at a JDIFF festival a few years ago when she saw her from across the room.

Garcia hopes the film will spark conversations about the issue of child abuse.

“I imagine hearing conversations from adults with past abuse,” she said. “I hope it gives them a better perspective on their future and drives them to help others with a similar past, or to save someone who’s going through it now.”

Garcia said while the film deals with serious and shocking subject matter, it ultimately has an uplifting message.

“In the end, through the teacher’s actions, the impact gives the child the inspiration not to give up on her future,” she said.

Michelle London

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