Team Meryland

This film is available for the run of the festival starting the day of Thanksgiving 2021. To watch or to vote for this film please click on the orange “TICKETS” button below and purchase a ticket for BLOCK 5.  You also have the option to buy the Movie Buff Pass to watch all the films of the festival until December 15, 2021.


Born and raised in the Watts projects of Los Angeles, twelve-year-old Mexican-American boxer Meryland Gonzalez fights in-and-out of the ring for her dream to be crowned the 2019 Junior Olympics champion.

Df1d1aae13 headshotDirector Biography – Gabriel Gaurano

Growing up in San Diego as the youngest of seven kids in a large Filipino family, Gabriel got his start by making childhood action movies on his mom’s Sony-Camcorder. With maturity, these epics were replaced by the adversities of everyday people. From a miracle female boxer from Watts to a son with a complicated paternal relationship, Gabe is passionate about capturing real stories filled with family and heart. He’s had projects shown at AFI, NFFTY, and the LA Film Festival. He is currently a USC film production senior. With the same childlike excitement, he makes films that remind him what he’s fighting for.

Director Statement

My name is Gabriel Gaurano and I made Team Meryland because I truly believe in the power of family and the miracle of second chances. I grew up the youngest of seven kids in a large Filipino family, raised by a single mom who, in the turn of the housing recession and a vicious divorce, lost almost everything and fought to reach a place of security over the course of a decade. Throughout my own journey, I’ve learned the strength of my siblings, the sacrifices my mom made for us, and our collective teamwork as a family to get a miraculous second chance. When I met the Gonzales family and learned of their story, I knew immediately that this was a narrative I needed to champion. It’s a story I wish my family and I had seen when we were looking for hope.

The Gonzales family’s ability to stick together and fight through hardship spoke to my core. In all its layers, Team Meryland is a story about fighting for a second chance at a dream. It is about Meryland’s second chance to be crowned a Junior Olympic champion, her parents’ second chance for a better life in America as immigrants, and her second chance at life after undergoing past medical trauma. When I filmed the Gonzalez family living through these moments, it reminded me of when my mom worked late nights, or when my siblings and I stuck together during difficult times. I had the biggest privilege capturing this family’s journey, watching their undeniable grit and beautiful perspective on life. Meryland’s story has inspired me as the director, and I trust it will inspire those watching to fight for their dream.

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