Naming a film is never an easy task. You can go the literal route and just throw on the name of your protagonist, or the town where she lives, or some other general observations that don’t really delve into the film’s deeper meanings. Suzanne, may or not be the name of an actual film, or Springfield, Motorcycle Gang, and so on — or alternately — you can gamble on a more metaphorical option.
The folks behind the film formerly known as Pocha: Manifest Destiny evidently opted for the latter, employing a term used in Spanish to describe an “Americanized Mexican” followed by a reference to the United States’ imperialist expansion to the Pacific. Under this mysterious but evocative name, the film racked up strong reviews along with a couple of important prizes at the Los Angeles Film Festival and Urbanworld, but presumably along the way the title inspired a few too many question marks. Now, as the film is poised for its U.S. theatrical premiere on April 15, Pocha: Manifest Destiny has reemerged baptized as Hostile Border.
Sure, it’s a touch more literal than the original, but the new title still lends itself to diverse interpretations while focusing our attention a little more directly on the U.S.-Mexico border that serves as the thematic axis of the film. Directed by Michael Dwyer, the dramatic crime thriller follows a small-time criminal named Claudia (played by Veronica Sixtos) who’s deported back to Mexico after spending the majority of her life in California. Unable to speak Spanish, she moves in with her father whom she hardly knows and struggles to navigate a culture that’s not quite her own. In her desperation to get back to the U.S., our anti-hero falls in with a handsome but devious local drug dealer who promises to smuggle her back across in return for a few favors.
The film’s trailer showcases Dwyer’s confident style, with evocative lighting and camerawork buoying a powerful performance from Sixtos. In a previous interview with Remezcla, Sixtos lamented the lack of complex roles available for women in American film, and here we get a glimpse at exactly what the California native can do when given a meaty role to bite into. Most importantly, Dwyer and Sixtos show us that criminality is not necessarily a black and white moral issue — as many of our abuelas might have us think — and that bad decisions don’t always make us bad people.
Hostile Border will open at the following theaters on April 15, 2016.
Maya Pittsburgh 16 – Pittsburgh, CA
Maya Salinas 14 – Salinas, CA
Maya Bakersfield 16 – Bakersfield, CA
Maya Fresno 16 – Fresno, CA
Laemmle NoHo 7 – Los Angeles, CA
Digital Gym Cinema, San Diego, CA
Tuscon Spectrum 18 – Tuscon, AZ
Cinema Latino de Phoenix – Phoenix, AZ
Cinema Latino de Pasadena – Pasadena, TX
SIE Film Center – Denver, CO
Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago, IL