It takes a tremendous amount of courage and insight to make a film that cuts so close to the bone, but in ENTRE NOS, an American Independent film screening at FESTROIA, the actress/writer/director Paola Mendoza delves into her own troubling past to create a universal story of perseverance and triumph.
Mendoza, who co-wrote and co-directed the film with Gloria La Morte, also stars as Mariana, a Colombian refugee wife and mother living in Queens, New York. Her husband Antonio is a notorious womanizer who moved to the US several years before and reluctantly sent for Mariana and their two children. When he announces one day that he has found a new job in Miami and that he will go on ahead, Mariana believes trustingly that he will send for her and the children.
However, she finds out through a mutual friend that Antonio is gone for good and 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.
Living in a harsh New York City with little knowledge of English, she finds her salvation through the kindness of others who are not much better off that she is. A sympathetic black homeless man explains to her that she can make money by collecting the discarded cans and bottles for recycling, so she enlists her two young children to scour the city’s garbage dumps in search of metals and plastics she can sell for food money. This is a dangerous business and her children remain at risk in the uncertain surroundings of poverty and desperation that have become their new lot.
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 homage to her struggling mother who gave her and her brother a foothold in a new life in America. Those final credits also reveal that her brother and she were able to become professionals in their new country and were able to realize the American dream because of the struggles and sacrifices of their courageous mother. While true to its own story, the film also is representative of the stories of many immigrants who must find courage through community and faith to realize a better life for their children.
The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and is making its international debut at FESTROIA in Portugal this week. For more information on the film, log on to: http://www.entrenosfilm.com/. To view the trailer, log on to: http://entrenosfilm.com/trailer