Remezcla readers love to take in culture, but don’t always have the cash for tickets. That’s where we come in. A Theater Near You is Remezcla’s guide to awesome Latin movies for the lazy and broke; you can watch these all at home (because sabemos que son flojos).
The recession has been rough for everyone. But one of the less visible populations has been hit harder than any other group, homeless children. It’s estimated that one in every 45 children is homeless in the U.S. That’s even more than after Hurricane Katrina when homelessness skyrocketed. In total more than 1.5 million kids are homeless in this country.
It can be hard to put a face on social issues like homelessness but two recent films have done just that. The Academy Award-winning short documentary Inocente, about a young Latina artist who is homeless and undocumented, and Entre Nos, based on the true story of a Colombian immigrant doing what she can to survive after her husband abandons her and her two young children. In honor of Women’s History Month we celebrate two Latinas who despite their tough circumstances remain optimistic and hopeful and who do everything they can to fight their way out.
Directors: Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine
Language: English Year: 2012 | 40 mins
Inocente has been saved by her love of painting. She has been homeless, along with her mother and three brothers, for most of her young life. Drifting from one shelter to the next, sometimes sleeping in a park or living a few months in a tiny apartment before being evicted has left her fantasizing about the simplest of luxuries like having her own room. After years of struggling she found ARTS, or A Reason to Survive, a San Diego based community arts program for at-risk youth. In the documentary we follow her as she prepares for a fundraiser for ARTS, an art show for which she has to create 30 paintings over the course of three months.
Her voice carries the film as she narrates the challenges she has faced and as the camera trails the swirls of her paintbrush. Her profound sadness and pain find their way down her face in tears but are wiped away by her boundless ability to bounce back from adversity. She fantasizes about walking on clouds, riding shooting stars, and trees that can talk and then paints her daydreams onto a canvas. She says, “I have a lot of impossible dreams but I still dream them.” It’s her ability to imagine fantastical things and dream about the future that push her forward and drive her desire to paint bright, colorful images. And its her dogged ambition that continues to motivate her. She says, “If you want your dreams to come true you have to make them comes true.”
Directors: Paola Mendoza and Gloria La Morte
Language: Spanish (with English subtitles)
Year: 2009 | 80 mins
Mariana (Paola Mendoza) has followed her husband to New York after living on her own in Colombia for years. Together with her two young children, Gabriel (Sebastian Villada Lopez), 10, and Andrea (Laura Montana Cortez), 6, the family reunites in Queens. Things seem to be going well, Mariana makes empanadas and they celebrate. Not long after his family arrives, Antonio gets restless. He breaks the news that he got a new job in Miami and is moving. He says they can come meet him when he is settled. Days pass and Mariana begins to run out of money. She leaves him messages but he doesn’t call back. It becomes clear that Antonio is gone for good and Mariana is left to care for her kids, alone.
Without enough money to pay the rent they get evicted and spend the night in a park. Mariana stays awake at night, watching over her sleeping children. They put their belongings in a shopping cart and soon take to collecting cans to make some money. They wander the colorful streets of Queens, walking through the immigrant enclaves that dot the borough’s diverse landscape searching for aluminum cans that will earn them a couple of cents.
Paola Mendoza, in her performance as Mariana, portrays desperation, hope, and strength that are palpable on screen. It’s no surprise that Mendoza’s performance is relatable, sympathetic, and thoughtful. The film tells her life story and the role of Mariana is based on her own mother. It’s a film that shows exactly what New York can be: terrifying, crushing, and sometimes too much to bear but full of promise, opportunity, and new beginnings. It’s a place where a nightmare situation can become an American dream come true. Entre Nos is inspiring and uplifting, exactly what a movie should be.