THE GARDEN LEFT BEHIND traces the relationship between Tina (Carlie Guevara), a young Mexican trans woman, and Eliana (Miriam Cruz), her grandmother, as they navigate Tina’s transition and struggle to build a life for themselves as undocumented immigrants in New York City. As Tina begins the process of transitioning, Eliana struggles to understand Tina and fears that their life together in America is no longer what they bargained for. Tina finds camaraderie in a small but mighty transgender advocate group, but soon, Tina ends up having to fight for the life that she’s meant to live – facing violent threats, seemingly insurmountable medical costs, questions about her legal immigration status, and increasing skepticism from the man she loves. She begins to lose all hope, but has unknowingly become the only hope for a shy young man who has been watching her closely from afar.
Q&A WITH DIRECTOR FLAVIO ALVES
Q) What was the inspiration for you to direct and co-write this film with John Rotondo?
John Rotondo and I wanted to amplify the voices of marginalized community members who have felt that they are not being heard. Our biggest inspiration came from the trans women and men with whom we had the opportunity to speak with while conducting our research for this film. They have helped us to shape Tina’s storyline, and we have to thank them for the heart and soul they’ve put into this film.
Q) What was the casting process like?
We wanted to stay as authentic as possible, so we made sure to cast trans actors in all of our trans roles. The biggest challenge was that casting agencies were not able to present us with a large pool of trans actors to choose from, and so we had to look into alternative casting methods, and finding non-experienced actors, which includes our lead, Carlie Guevara, who has made her break out debut in our film. Our trans actors are the fabric of this story, and we are glad to be able to introduce some new talent to the film industry. We recognize that we are at a time where diverse representation in stories is a core value, and we are honored to have been able to work with the so many amazing people in the trans community.
Q) What steps your production took to increase the trans representation behind the camera? We were lucky enough to have the Trans Filmmakers Project join the production team of our film, providing us with a large pool of transgender representation behind the camera, so that they could gain experience making media, that will eventually help them to develop stories of their own. In addition to TFP, a long list of other fantastic organizations helped support the film, including GLAAD, who took us under their wing and provided special trainings for our crew of actors, advocates, and allies. For me, as a queer Latinx filmmaker, the idea is always to bring everybody I can to the table to work together, and by using different media formats, we are able to elevate various voices from marginalized communities that are otherwise often overlooked.
Q) With the recent news from the current administration about the transgender ban in the military and other policies that have negatively impacted the LGBTQ community over the last 2-3 years, where does THE GARDEN LEFT BEHIND fit within the larger narrative of our society as a whole?
The transgender ban is simply inconsistent with who we say we are as a nation, and it’s very sad that this administration had decided to score a political point by attacking the trans community. Our film, which the main character is trans and Mexican, never meant to be political (we started working on the script in 2015), but it shines a light on what’s happening right now in our country.
Q) Trans-women are frequently the target of violence. How did you feel about including this in the film? We interviewed several trans women who helped us to shape Tina’s storyline. And while we acknowledge that the transgender experience is different for everyone, interesting enough, nearly every person we interviewed, especially trans women of color, had experienced some sort of violence, including physical, verbal, and emotional. And, although we are aware that some of the scenes we have in the film could be hard to watch and might trigger emotional response; on the other hand, we think we would be doing a disservice if we had eliminated the violence from the conversation.
Q&A WITH PRODUCER KRISTEN LOVELL
Q) How do you feel the film portrays the trans community? Not too long ago trans people were portrayed in a negative and stereotypical manner. I’m excited that trans people are beginning to finally be portrayed as regular people in the media, and The Garden Left Behind is doing its part to make that happen. I instantly fell in love with the characters in the film, and I knew that this was a script to help change the narrative, one that would raise awareness about some of the more serious issues that trans women are facing.
Q) How about casting Trans actors for all trans roles?
I can’t stress enough the importance of having real trans people playing trans characters. Available roles are already limited for trans actors, why shouldn’t we be the ones to tell our own stories? We have the largest cast of transgender actors to date in a feature film. I wanted to make sure that the faces the audience sees representing us on screen are real faces from our community; real trans actors, singers, poets and community activists. Our community is filled with so much untapped talent; we deserve a platform like this.
Q) In light of the legal and social hurdles facing the transgender community, where does THE GARDEN LEFT BEHIND fit within the larger narrative of our society as a whole? Tina, our main character of the film, is quite the dreamer. She has so many obstacles in front of her to overcome, as so many others in our community do. I admire her will, her resiliency, and determination to SURVIVE. Trans people endure so many hardships in a world that tells us that we shouldn’t exist, but at the end of the day, she’s a human being, full of love and aspirations, and anybody can relate to that. We as a society get so hung up on things like gender and what’s going on between a person’s legs, that we forget to focus on what’s most important, which is acknowledging the humanity of others.
Q) Trans-women are frequently the target of violence. How did you feel about including this in the film? I felt it was important to highlight the reality trans women face every day. Just by walking out of the house, trans people are the targets of violence. These acts of violence can range from simple teasing and name calling to more escalated acts of aggression. All for simply existing. It’s either something that’s not being talked about or no one seems to care that much. Some people think it’s just something we deserve. This is why it was so important to tackle the subject of violence in the film. People attack what they don’t understand and hopefully, by watching this film, our audience will gain insight in how that ultimately effects the trans community.
A trans girl and her mother move to a new town in order to start fresh, but quickly face dilemmas when the local high school needs a second parental signature for enrollment.
Valentina, a 17-year-old girl, moves to the countryside of Brazil with her mother Márcia to start fresh. To avoid being bullied in her new school, Valentina tries to enroll with her new name and hopes to be private about her gender history. However, the girl and her mother quickly face dilemmas when the local high school needs a second parental signature for enrollment. Presenting trans actress Thiessa Woinbackk’s debut, Valentina is a reflection of the real life hardships that society forces a strong young woman to endure and embrace who she is.
While performing an autopsy, coroner Paul Herzfeld (Moritz Bleibtreu) discovers a note in the skull of a corpse with a phone number which belongs to his all but estranged daughter, whom he soon discovers has gone missing. The sinister clue leads him on the trail of a deranged killer, who has planted similar clues that must be uncovered in order to save the young woman. Enlisting the reluctant help of an artist and an eager intern, Paul unravels a mystery whose threads run deep and that leads him to a solitary island cut off from the mainland by a winter storm. Based on the international best-seller by Sebastian Fitzek and Michael Tsokos and featuring a stellar cast, Christian Alvart’s (Antibodies) gripping Cut Off is a nerve-wracking psycho thriller that will leave you gasping until the very last breath.
Day 13 – VOD Release 8/4/20 – Available on: Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, Xbox, Playstation, Vudu, Fandango & Vimeo
Breaking Glass Pictures has released Day 13, a horror-thriller film full of summer romance, abductions and occult sacrifices. Colton is an outgoing teenager with the summertime blues, stuck watching his little sister while his parents are on vacation. Until he notices something strange in a decrepit old house across the street. Is the house haunted? Two people just moved in: beautiful 16-year-old HEATHER, and a secretive, intimidating OLD MAN. When Colton musters the courage to introduce himself to Heather, he’ll learn that this strange man is in fact her foster father. Colton develops a crush on Heather from afar… until he witnesses disturbing and threatening behavior from her strange guardian. Soon, Colton suspects “the Man” is preparing to do something unspeakably awful to her. But no one, not his best friend MIGUEL, not the police, not even Heather herself, believes him. Meanwhile, Heather sneaks out from under the Man’s watchful eye to visit Colton. Their relationship deepens. Then all hell breaks loose!
BENJAMIN: This offbeat gay romantic comedy centers around Benjamin (Colin Morgan), a nervous, neurotic filmmaker juggling the anxieties of finalizing his second feature with the fear and awkwardness of a burgeoning romance. Will Benjamin’s insecurities get in the way of success and happiness? Will his film be a critics-savaging disaster and he, a one-hit wonder? Amstell peppers this entertaining tale with scene-stealing cast of supporting characters including Joel Fry (Game of Thrones), Jessica Raine, Jack Rowan and Anna Chancellor.
Hands of God
They endured thirteen years of war, dozens of bombings each and every month, but their focus was on one goal: to become Olympic champions…
From executive producer Alfonso Cuarón (Roma, Gravity) and director Riccardo Romani comes HANDS OF GOD, a compelling documentary telling the true story of the Iraqi National Boxing Team and their amazing journey from desperation to the edge of an historic qualification. The film follows a group of young men — Waheed, Jafaar, and Saadi — who, with grit and determination, rise to fight for their Nation while defending their lives on the battlefields. When their gym is devastated by a bomb attack, they train outside. Despite living under the persistent threat of ISIS, these men re-define commitment and sacrifice as they strive to accomplish their dreams.
Will Private Waheed find enough time to for training while undertaking his army duty? Will young Jafaar maintain his focus while living in the most dangerous suburb in the world? Will promising heavyweight Saadi come back from his mission to liberate Falluja? From Al Sadr City to Rio de Janeiro, HANDS OF GOD is a stunning tale of hope and redemption.
My Name is Pedro
Lillian LaSalle’s award-winning, powerful documentary MY NAME IS PEDRO explores what public education meant to South Bronx Latino maverick educator, Pedro Santana, and what he, in turn, meant to public education. The film is also especially timely in this moment of national reckoning since the murder of George Floyd and subsequent protests.
Infectious in his optimism, Santana becomes one of the most influential public-school teachers and then administrators in the New York public school system after turning his troubled Bronx middle school, MS 391, around. He is unapologetic in his commitment to create change for kids, no matter the odds. When a glowing front-page New York Times article catapults him into the spotlight, he is recruited and then accepts a promotion to use his famed ‘out of the box’ and transformative practices to save a corrupt and divided suburban school district. But the political challenges there may simply be too great, even for the infallible Santana.
In order to continue his life’s mission that ‘every kid can learn’, (he himself was labeled ‘special ed’ as a child), he realizes that he must venture beyond not only the restrictive ‘four walls’ of the public education system, but also his own neighborhood, city and even his own country.
MY NAME IS PEDRO is a profound story of how one person actualizes learning and positive change in children, adults, environments and communities through an ‘impact’ ripple effect strategy that he has effortlessly perfected. The film is also an essential and timely reminder of the importance of great educators that exist within the infrastructure of our country’s public education system.
I Hate New York
New York City. Over a decade (2007-2017), the director delves into the private world of four of the Big Apple’s most famous underground artists and trans activists: Amanda Lepore, Chloe Dzubilo, Sophia Lamar and T De Long. The result is an intimate portrait of these icons: little by little, their testimonies reveal fragments of a past – sometimes dramatic, always fascinating and simply extraordinary – that formed their identifies and transformed their lives. Their words, fears and hopes take the audience from an outsider’s point of view to becoming emotionally invested in their destiny.