Darius Stevens was born in Washington, DC. At a young age, he took an interest in writing stories and had a love of comic books and old movies that inspired his ingenious narratives. Shortly after living in Florida, he and his family moved to the city of stars, Hollywood.
Fast forward to 2023, and his feature film De Vuelta a Casa (The Way Home) has won forty-seven awards so far. Let’s take a look at how Darius’ love for film led up to this point.
Stevens’ love for movies fueled his imagination and often served as an escape from his family’s low-income struggles. Stevens recalls, “The old Vista Theater near the corner of Hillhurst and Sunset was on my walk home from school every day, and even though I couldn’t afford tickets, the theater owner would let me into showings and have popcorn if I helped clean the theater afterward and here I was exposed to a lot of international and art cinema that I never would’ve seen otherwise which made me realize cinema wasn’t just the excitement of the summer blockbusters but a massively important art form that could change people’s perception about the world around them.”
Immersing himself in creative expression in cinema and storytelling cemented his emotional attachment to the entertainment business.
At just eight years old, Stevens took a job cleaning a film set after building a relationship with the director. The chief editor showed Stevens how to edit and develop films within a few days of working on the production set. At nine years old, he was already cutting and splicing films. Studying the process of filmmaking continued throughout his whole childhood until Stevens decided to try it out himself. He learned everything on the job while he read every book he could get his hands on. While taking specialist classes at LA Film School and nearby universities to hone his writing skills, he also sought out meetings to get his projects off the ground.
Right before he turned 30, he opened up his own small production company for commercials and industries. He spent years traveling the world, working on thousands of projects, where he learned to do everything independently. When visiting Puebla, Mexico, his vision for a short film was influenced by the city’s beauty and was fueled even more during a road trip.
The film Du Vuelta a Casa (The Way Home) portrays Ricardo, played by Cayetano Arámburo (Amar A Muerte), a successful young business executive who left Puebla, Mexico, to gain fortune in New York. Ricardo returns home in the wake of his grandfather’s death. As part of his final wish, Ricardo was told to scatter his grandfathers’ ashes in all the places he and his family visited as a child. Upon his arrival, he faces a trail of friendships and childhood love, whom he abandoned to start his career in New York.
The film was shot across seventy-four locations in Puebla, Mexico.
The casting was determined by physique, technique, and range. The cast of new actors put on an emotional performance that encapsulates the broad relationships of characters in the film. Du Vuelta a Casa has received 80-90 nominations and 47 wins in the festival run so far. However, Stevens focuses on the audience’s feedback on the film and its impact on those who view it. He said, “It’s that feedback that lets me know that when this film does go out in the world, it will be important for people.”
During Covid-19, many people lost loved ones. Stevens’ vision was to have the film be cathartic to grieving people. His message to his audience is to “treasure these people while they are here because you don’t know when they might be gone.” After seeing the film, he hopes that the audience calls the people they love most to thank them and tell them how much they appreciate them.