Editor's note: A previous version of this article said Bernal would like to work on an upcoming Netflix series "The Show." However, "The Show" is a summer class being offered by Matthew McDuffie, who plans to pitch the idea to Netflix. The article has been corrected.

No matter the landscape, Marina Bernal remained a leader and passionate filmmaker. Behind the camera, Bernal gained professional recognition despite being a newcomer to the University.  

Graduating with a major in film and digital arts, Bernal’s academic pilgrimage took her from Barcelona, Spain to Albuquerque — and a few stops in between — in pursuit of some of her scholarly and life goals.

Bernal’s trek to the U.S. started when she accepted a basketball scholarship to John Wood Community College in Illinois in 2015. She then went to Kankakee Community College in Illinois before transferring to UNM on an academic scholarship in spring 2018.

With the help from one of her favorite instructors at the University, Deborah Fort, she was able to score an internship as an associate producer with New Mexico PBS (NMPBS). Fort is a film and digital arts associate professor at UNM that said she incorporates her research into her classes, including the use of mobile devices for both production and distribution.

“Bernal is a very serious, very driven leader who has become very generous with her skills,” Fort said. “Yes, she is a leader, but she is not an arrogant leader like in the news today.”

Bernal said her motivation to succeed was rooted in her relationship with her mother.

Although Bernal hasn’t been home to Spain in four years, she and her mom motivate each other to be their best with 5,487 miles of separation in between.

In the meantime, Bernal kept herself busy as a resident advisor for Casas del Rio student housing.

Bernal said she wants to be known as an activist through her films, covering outspoken and difficult topics from around the world through documentaries.

She also said one of her film goals would be to create dystopian fiction that tackles our society's perception of body image.

“I want to show different views that the world should focus on and that body image doesn’t have to be based on what you see in the magazines,” Bernal said. “Once they see it, they will be like ‘whoa’ and realize they need to fix the perception that image is everything.”

Although Bernal won’t be able to continue at NMPBS because of her graduation, she will wrap up on a NMPBS project called ¡Colores!, which focuses on local art series and is broadcast weekly.

Moving forward, she hopes to assist Matthew McDuffie, a UNM film and digital arts professor and screenwriter, with a summer course called “The Show.” Bernal said McDuffie plans to pitch the idea to Netflix after they film an episode. 

Bernal added that she is still on the lookout for other job openings.

“I am still looking for opportunities online and through Facebook groups,” Bernal said. “The only disadvantage is that I’m not a New Mexico resident, and residents have top priority in jobs.”

On July 1, Bernal will return to her home in Barcelona, with the hope to renew her visa and visit her parents.

Although the pandemic has brought many unforeseen challenges, Bernal said she hopes to keep empowering women and improving her skills by creating and editing her films.

Cameron Ward is a culture reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @xx_cameo_xx