This short film will screen with other short films in
The Opening Night Block – Block 4 | LAS JEFAS BLOCK
Friday, December 9th at 7pm
Palm Springs Art Museum. Palm Springs, California.
Buy Tickets Here 

When the death of her grandmother unleashes a generational curse, a disenchanted flamenco dancer resigned to a desk job is forced to experience the five stages of grief through a visit from her female ancestors, pushing her to finally break the cycle.

Director Biography – Gabriela Ortega

Gabriela Ortega is an award-winning writer/director and actor born and raised in the Dominican Republic. She is a USC graduate, a 2021-2022 Sundance Institute “Art of Practice” fellow and is based in Los Angeles. Her short film “Huella“ was produced as part of Lena Waithe’s Rising Voices fellowship and was an official selection of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The short is being turned into a feature film and won development funds in the inaugural NewNarratives grant cycle created by WarnerMedia OneFifty and NewFilmmakers LA. Gabriela is also a writer/director in residence at Indeed/Hillman Grad for their 2022 development lab. She won Best direction of a live-action short at the 2021 LALIFF and is a Sundance Lab, NALIP Latino Media Market, and HBO TFT alum. Her first short film, PAPI, a portrait of her father shot on the beaches of the Dominican Republic will premiere on HBO in July of 2022. Gabriela’s work aims to draw cultural bridges that lead to the Caribbean and tell stories that represent the people she grew up with, authentically.

Director Statement

I wanted to talk about the many layers of loss. Not just losing someone in the physical form, but also about the parts of ourselves we lose along the way. It is about the parts of my story that I had to shed when I migrated to the U.S from the Dominican Republic. The invisible thread that connects me to my ancestors and the tug of war between here and there. I wanted to embrace the many deaths in my life that have shaped who I have grown into.

As someone who lives between two languages and cultures, I wanted to manifest grief beyond the spoken word. In the film, Daniela, a talented flamenco dancer who is stuck at home working at a job she hates, finds out that across the world, the biggest matriarch in her family (her grandmother Leonora) has died. Daniela’s dancing becomes the language that reveals her most vulnerable emotions, the untranslatable ones. The ones that cannot fit within the English language but also feel too far away from her native tongue. As an extension of movement, the visuals that bend the film’s reality and make the film oscillate between genres, show that our experiences as immigrants are not linear and (though the industry tells us differently) they do not belong in one box or one particular form of storytelling.
I wanted to find the possibility of rebirth inside that which dies in us when we lose someone that shapes us, and in that dichotomy, find the opposing forces that make us choose who we want to be moving forward. What I did not expect, was to grieve my own grandmother as I was finishing this film.

However, more often than not, the art we make imitates our life in ways we aren’t able to properly describe. To not see loss in every story, to not talk about our proximity to death and the immediacy of living would be (to me) like not living at all. Like Daniela, to compartmentalize grief would have been to hide, and if I have learned anything as an immigrant woman working towards a seat at the table in this industry, is that I am done hiding.

So, I’d like to take a moment to dedicate this film to my Abuelita Ena, who I feel so close to me these days. In this process, I have learned that we never really leave. The week of my grandmother’s death was the week I felt the most alive, the most present, the most human. As I feel my grandmother’s presence and the void she’s left in us all, I am reminded that we can hold many truths at the same time.
This film is for my abuelas and my mom and my sister and my girlfriends and all the women that have held my hand through this life.

This film is for us who live between zip codes and contradictory upbringings. It’s for all of us. All of you. All that we choose to take with us.

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