In short film Broken Cycle from U.S. Army Arabic translator turned filmmaker Clifton Archuleta, a teen finds himself taken in by a gang of neighbourhood thugs and is presented with the decision of whether or not to embrace his anger and step up to the next level, leaving his innocence behind.
Created as Archuleta's thesis project for Regis University, Broken Cycle manages to avoid the preachy tone that all too often permeates 'teen at life's crossroads' films and instead depicts Ahmad's dilemma through action. It's an approach Archuleta keeps at the forefront of his mind throughout all his projects:
My films often deal with social justice issues. Making such films is difficult for me though, because while I’m very opinionated, I’m not interested in beating people over the head with my message. I’d rather let issues present themselves in the circumstances surrounding an individual and focus on the human aspect of how one deals with them. I believe this helps to provoke thought and allows the viewer to reach their own conclusion about a given issue.
Encouraging viewers to think for themselves has paid off for Archuleta, with Broken Cycle grabbing awards for Best Director, Best Thesis Film and Best Picture at the Colorado Film School's Spring student showcase last year, as well as landing the short several festival screenings.