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Entre Nos (Between Us) is a stirring independent film from filmmakers Gloria La Morte and Paola Mendoza. The film is an important independent film about immigration policy issues in the United States. Mendoza, who also co-wrote and stars in the film, based this on her experiences growing up with her mother when she was a young child.
Mariana (Paola Mendoza) is a young Spanish immigrant who moves to the United States with her husband and two young children in the hopes of building a better life for her family. This a melancholy and upsetting drama about her struggles and tribulations during these years of her life. It's also a fitting testament to the power of love and the dedication of mothers.
After a brief period of adjustment to living in the United States, her husband packs his bags for a new city saying he intends to find better work and to come back to her and the kids once things are sorted out. It isn't long, however, before it becomes clear that he abandoned his wife and his children and he delivers a message (through a friend) that he doesn't intend on returning to them. Abandoned and left with the responsibility of raising her children on her own, Mariana struggles with day-to-day living while remaining dedicated to her children.
The story follows Mariana and her children as they struggle to survive: will they even be able to afford to live in an apartment with a shoddy roof over their heads, or to get a decent meal? She picks up scraps of recycling bottles that are strewn over the city and gets her children to help carry these items around so they can get the 5 cents refund per bottle. It adds up to a few dollars a time. They do whatever they can just to survive each moment. Unable to find work in America, Mariana's struggles are quite real and heartbreaking.
The story of Entre Nos is both deeply personal to the filmmaker and one which includes clearly defined political undertones about immigration issues. The mother looks for work but struggles to find a job as an immigrant. This film has a positive message of encouragement for political reform on immigration policies.
The filmmaker, who based the storyline around her experiences as a child growing up with her mother, who was in a similar situation, explores their pain of trying to survive in a land that promises a better, brighter future to all while simultaneously offering rejection by society. The United States is a land founded by immigration and yet immigrants in the US today are constantly undervalued.
For an independent feature, the production is enormously impressive with quality set designs and locations. The production design by Adriana Serrano (American Koko) is much more polished than typical indie fare. The cinematography is luminously framed and brought to life on screen: the film ebbs back and forth between feeling like a photographed memory and like a documentary (all while never forgetting to serve the narrative).
The music by Gil Talmi (Between the Folds) is subtle but effective at blending in with the narrative. The exquisite cinematography by Bradford Young (who went on to do cinematography for Arrival, Selma, and Solo: A Star Wars Story) is absolutely fantastic. This is a beautifully filmed movie that really impresses on a visual scale. The approach to the film's cinematography is stylistically unique.
The screenplay was written and directed by Gloria La Morte (Washington Heights) and Paola Mendoza (Autumn's Eyes). This is a beautifully made film which clearly had an enormous amount of heart put in to the production. The film feels very sincere and authentic from the first frame to the last. Though the film is emotionally gut-wrenching at times (as there is a bleakness to it) it's also a film that is hopeful and inspirational at the same time. The exceptional filmmaking on display and the films important message makes Entre Nos a must-see film for anyone interested in films about immigrants and immigration issues.
The film is presented on DVD in the original 1.85:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio. This is a slightly above-average DVD presentation which is a serviceable presentation. The cinematography done by Bradford Young (Arrival, Selma, Solo: A Star Wars Story) is exceptional and has a grittiness which feels authentic.
The film is presented with a 2.0 Dolby Digital stereo audio presentation. This is a decent audio presentation which has good dialogue clarity for a low-budget independent feature. The film doesn't have much in the way of surround usage, even for a stereo presentation, but it's to be expected for an indie. This is a perfectly serviceable audio presentation.
Behind the Scenes (15 min.) is a making-of featurette which explores the production of the film with casting, location scouting, and rehearsal footage. Featuring interviews with the cast and crew. For an independent film, it's a surprisingly well-made extra looking at different aspects of the production.
How to make empanadas (5 min.) is a short tutorial on making empanadas as hosted by the directors of the film.
PSA on Immigration Reform (2 min.) featuring director/co-writer/actress Paola Mendoza discussing the importance of immigration reform.
Still Standing: A Short Film by Director Paola Mendoza (8 min.) is a short documentary in which director Paola Mendoza visits a relative in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it wrecked in its path. This is a well-done short which showcases the talent and promise to come by director Mendoza.
Paola Mendoza based Entre Nos on her experiences growing up with her mother. It's a testament to her mother's strength and to the strength of the human spirit. This young girl grew up the child of an immigrant to become an immensely talented filmmaker with a passion for telling stories: Mendoza brings her skills, unique voice, and personality to this harrowing tale of life on the brink. This film serves as a timely reminder of the need for significant immigration reform in the United States.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.