• October 23, 2019
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Queens Chronicle

A story of a student and the teacher who helped

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Posted: Thursday, August 8, 2019 10:30 am

Santiago Rizzo wrote “Quest — The Truth Always Rises” with his late teacher, Tim Moellering.

Rizzo was a troubled child with an abusive stepfather and a penchant for spraying graffiti everywhere.

Moellering didn’t give up on his student, allowing him to sleep on his couch.

“It’s really a story about a child that’s losing hope in humanity and misunderstood as the result of maybe the way he looks and also his really unhealthy behavior,” Rizzo told the Chronicle on Tuesday.

Rizzo went from the troubled youth to a Stanford graduate who worked on Wall Street and saved enough money to buy a house with Moellering.

They decided to tell their story and make a script. When Moellering died in 2011, Rizzo promised he would make it into a movie. “That was a promise I was unwilling to break,” Rizzo said. “Tim never broke a promise to me.”

He sold the house to make the movie in Moellering’s honor.

Rizzo has been to juvenile detention centers and adult correctional facilities where the movie brings inmates to tears.

“It’s a very, very powerful film because it’s made with love and it brings you deeper into your heart,” Rizzo said.

Lou Diamond Phillips, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for the 1988 classroom drama “Stand and Deliver,” is in the movie but as the abusive stepfather.

“I was so green making this movie,” Rizzo said. “I never directed anything in my life, not even a short film. When I got into the editing room it really became clear that Lou Diamond Phillips is a movie star.”

Rizzo said all of Phillips’ takes were “phenomenal” and that they were all usable, such as how a cigarette would go into his mouth at the same line every time.

“He’s a movie star,” Rizzo said, adding that Phillips made everyone around him better. “He’s been doing this.”

The movie, which wraps up the third annual Festival of Cinema NYC [see separate story in most editions’ news sections or at qchron.com], pays tribute to Moellering, who loved the diversity of Berekely, Calif. and said if he didn’t live there he would’ve liked to have lived in New York.

“It’s about coming together with love and I think Tim is one of the most beautiful examples of that,” Rizzo said.


‘Quest — The Truth Always Rises’
When: Sat., Aug. 10, 8:15 p.m.
Where: Regal UA Midway, 108-22 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills

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