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Santa Barbara Native creates film starring Rita Moreno

SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—A Santa Barbara native created a film called “The Prank” that's premiering at the Santa Barbara international film festival.

It’s is a dark comedy that follows two students who frame their science teacher for the murder of a missing student.

Oscar winning actress Rita Moreno plays the role of the detestable teacher Mrs. Wheeler.

“Walking on the set with a EGOT winning actress was pretty intimidating. Not going to lie. As soon as you get to set the the the energy that Rita gives off is truly remarkable,” said 'The Prank' star Connor Kalopsis.

For director Maureen Bharoocha, working with Moreno is a dream come true.

“Feels really amazing to be back home and especially with Rita. I mean, it's kind of unreal,” said Bharoocha.

Bharoocha says that having the film premiere in Santa Barbara holds deep significance.

“I grew up here. I went to Santa Barbara City College. I took some classes here in Santa Barbara. So it's it's where my love of film kind of started. So it feels really beautiful to come back,” said Bharoocha.

We spoke to the cast, who remained a bit cryptic when talking about the themes of the film, but say viewers can expect some twists and turns.

They are excited to see their work come to life on the big screen.

“My favorite thing, especially at screenings like this, is kind of watching the audience's reactions to be as because each time I watch it with people in the theater as well, all the reactions are a little bit different every time and it's really fun to watch,” said Kalopsis.

The director said that walking the film festival red carpet with Rita Moreno last night was such a full circle moment as her love of cinema started in Santa Barbara.

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Mina Wahab

Arab-American producer & reporter with a mission to dig deep in interviews, share authentically, shed light on the issues that matter, and provoke deep thought.


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