‘Princess of the Row’ Tells Story of Foster Kid Devoted To Her Homeless Father

Lead Photo: Photo courtesy of the director
Photo courtesy of the director
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Los Angeles-born American-Mexican writer and director Van Maximilian Carlson is releasing his first feature film, Princess of the Row, this week on Nov. 27.

The drama tells the story of Alicia Willis (Tayler Buck), a 12-year-old girl bouncing around the foster care system who would rather be homeless with her biological father (Edi Gathegi) suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder.

Along with Buck and Gathegi in the two lead roles, Carlson’s film stars Latino actors Ana Ortiz (TV’s Devious Maids), Jacob Vargas (Selena), and Jenny Gago (TV’s Sons of Anarchy). Ortiz plays Magdalene Rodriguez, Alicia’s social worker who finds out Alicia has run away.

“Don’t you want a home?” Magdalene asks Alicia in the film’s trailer before telling her that “skid row” is not an appropriate place for a young girl to live.

Martin Sheen (Grace and Frankie) and Gago play John and Carolina Austin, a husband and wife who are supposed to serve as Alicia’s new foster parents. When Alicia finds out they live 10 hours away from her father, she does everything possible to stay close to him.

Last year, Princess of the Row hit the festival circuit and picked up a number of awards, including Best American Independent Feature Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival and the Emerging Director Award at the St. Louis International Film Festival.

During an interview at SLIFF last year, Carlson was asked what it meant to have a legendary actor like Sheen starring in his film, especially since he is known off the set for his political activism.

“He brought a lot to the project,” Carlson said. “We wrote the part and we just asked Martin if he would play it. Martin graciously read it and said yes. In a way, he got the ball rolling. The social activism part of his life is admirable. He’s been arrested more than 100 times for his political activism at rallies and marches. I think that’s great because our film has a social message within it.”

Princess of the Row opens in select theaters, on digital platforms and VOD Nov. 27.