ENTRE NOS, a hard-hitting and emotionally involving drama about the struggles of an illegal immigrant to make a life for herself and her children on the mean streets of New York City, was chosen as the Best Film in the North American Independents Competition of the 25th edition of FESTROIA: The Troia International Film Festival. The Festival, the oldest and largest in Portugal, ran from September 4 to 13 in the coastal resort of Setubal, giving it the reputation as the “Portuguese Cannes”.
The film is co-written and co-directed by Paola Mendoza, who also stars as Mariana, a Colombian refugee wife and mother living in Queens, New York. After her notorious womanizing husband abandons her and their family for a job in Miami, she finds that she must fend for herself and her children. Not being legal and therefore unable to go the authorities for help, Mariana begins a sobering journey of survival on the streets and in grimy hotel rooms as she tries to keep a sense of normalcy for her son and daughter.
The film, which is co-written and co-directed with her partner Gloria LaMorte and produced by Joseph LaMorte, cuts close to the bone for Paola Mendoza, delving into her own troubling past to create a universal story of perseverance and triumph. Mendoza gives a powerful and knowing performance as the mother. It becomes clear why she knows this story so intimately. In the film’s final credits, it is revealed that Mendoza herself was the young daughter in this true drama, and the film is a hommage to her struggling mother who gave her and her brother a foothold in a new life in America.