Gabriela (2024)
Gabriela (2024)

Genre: Drama and Short Running Time: 16 min.

Release Date: March 21st, 2024 MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Director: Evelyn Lorena Actors: Evelyn Lorena, Maria Telon, Viktor White

 


 

“W

ho shall I be?” Inspired by her supportive father, Gabriela (Evelyn Lorena) plans to join a swim team in America … one day. But it’s not exactly a free activity; the nicer venues (like country clubs) are exclusive, with costly memberships. And it’s no secret that Gabriela’s lineage (she’s of Guatemalan descent, though that isn’t specified onscreen) poses a threat to any ease of potential success; her mother blatantly states that the girl’s whiter skin is a fortunate trait, allowing her to claim she’s Italian, rather than latino, which could doom her to a meager trade in selling tamales.

“Why do you have to prove yourself?” Despite the location and finances of her upbringing, as well as a crushingly standard lack of resources, Gabriela appears deterred only on the outside; when she’s not forced into household duties, she’s dreaming of competitive swimming. Yet the notes of encouragement from her boyfriend, suggesting that she shouldn’t care what others think, and that she shouldn’t settle for a life of mediocrity or ambiguity, to instead pursue her desires, rings somewhat hollow. The situations people are born into tend to hold an absolutely massive, staggering influence on their outcomes; ancestry can be a curse. Additionally, though undefined, Gabriela had to contend with health issues (a reflection of the filmmaker’s personal straits) and a documentation predicament, which are entirely separate issues of unpredictable, external oppression.

Indeed, cycles of poverty, disregard, and racism against minorities in every country appear as if impossible odds to overcome. Gabriela’s plight is certainly compelling and sympathetic, an often overlooked perspective and scenario that afflicts countless numbers. Religion becomes a lifeline; hope can be both hurtful and forceful; and internal strength and perseverance might be all these unfortunate souls have to help propel them toward a life and career beyond generational, locational, bureaucratic traps of stagnation. It’s important to note their existences and their humanity, even if they’re rarely considered cinematic subjects, and even if this particular short subject doesn’t possess much of a traditional narrative, serving primarily as a rumination. Fortunately, the acting is exceptional (lead Lorena also wrote and directed), which greatly elevates the picture’s modest production values.

– Mike Massie

  • 6/10