Lower Valley man showcases Yakima Valley in new film

Lower Valley man showcases Yakima Valley in new film

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. -- A Lower Valley native has hit the big time in LA. But, he never forgot his roots. Now, he's showcasing the region in a new movie debuting at the Yakima Cinema Friday night.

Rick Castaneda walks the halls of his alma mater. He was once a Grizzly, too. Rick remembers when successful people would visit Sunnyside High to motivate students to create a bright future.

"It really helped me form my idea of what I wanted to do with my life," Castaneda said. "And, so if I can come back and do that for Sunnyside that would be a great thing."

And, that's exactly what he's doing now.

"Being able to take something and then say 'I made that' it's like a really cool, it's a really cool experience," he told a Sunnyside High classroom. 

Castaneda spent two and a half years writing and directing a film called 'Cement Suitcase'. It's about a tasting room manager in Prosser.

Nearly all of the film was shot on location in the Yakima Valley. Outside of one day of shooting in LA, the rest took place in Sunnyside, Prosser, Wapato, Granger, Zillah, Yakima, and Selah.

"Most people, once they've seen the film they've come up and said to me, 'Oh man!  That seems like such a cool area. I really want to go there,'" Castaneda said.

And, for Rick Castaneda, it's all about showcasing the valley he remembers, while inspiring kids to dream big.

"I always felt kind of like I was stuck here and I couldn't wait to get out," he said. "And, as soon as you get out, you realize, 'Oh, you know what? It wasn't such a bad place. I just had a bad frame of mind.'"

The local ties for 'Cement Suitcase' don't just stop with the director and locations.

"We had three actors that came from LA, but everybody else in the entire film is from the state of Washington," he said. 

You might recognize co-star Kristina Guerrero. The E! News correspondent is also from Sunnyside. Lower Valley natives proud to show of their home, on the big screen. 'Cement Suitcase' has won five awards at film festivals around the country. There are two showings Friday at the Yakima Cinema, at 7 and 9 p.m.