SHORT FILM REVIEW
A Mexican woman risks her life to save her son.
SIN FRONTERAS OPENS with a brief introduction from Amber Lee Ettinger, who portrays Juliana in the film. It's a small thing, but important all the same. For an actress to record a brief introduction for a short film they star in, shows a confidence that not all actors exude when it comes to projects they are involved with. When I learned that she and co-star Alexis Johnson also produced this film, the introduction made things all the more real and put a smile on my face. It's no secret that film, especially micro-budget independent film, is dominated by men. So seeing two women not only starring, but also producing a film always sends chills down my spine. Why? Because it's about damn time, and for the most part, every indie film I've watched where a woman, or women, do more than play a character has been great. It's not my place to speculate why that is, only that for me; it's always been that way. Sin Fronteras is no different; what a great short film.
TRICKING ELIZABETH INTO A RIDE TO THE HOSPITAL FOR HER SON WORKED LIKE A CHARM
As the television blasts out a speech underpinned with racism from a senator, a young woman is frantically packing things into a backpack, including a gun. Her son tells her that he just saw his daddy on television, and Juliana (Ettinger) absently replies that she did as well. Her husband's appearance is part of the reason she has to get out of Mexico, along with her son. It's just not safe anymore.
On the run, Juliana happens into another woman who not only looks pretty "white" but also has a car. Of course, she does! Tricking Elizabeth (Johnson) into a ride to the hospital for her son worked like a charm at first, but Elizabeth quickly catches on and requires a gun pointed at her head to remain compliant. I can't say I blame her, but once the story progresses, she quickly becomes sympathetic. As all of this is going on, Sin Fronteras keeps its audience glued to their screens as the border comes in closer and closer. This is done with some nice cinematography and obviously, some excellent acting.
WHEN TWO VIGILANTES PICK UP ON ELIZABETH'S TRAIL, THOSE BUTTERFLIES IN MY STOMACH RETURNED
As the two women and Juliana's son crossed the border, I sighed a breath of relief. You would expect the "mission" to be successful because this is a movie; however, with independent film, you never really know. But Sin Fronteras wasn't quite done with me yet. The dangers around the Mexican border don't end with border security, and when two vigilantes pick up on Elizabeth's trail, those butterflies in my stomach returned. Once pulled over, I quickly learned that these were not your typical self-described patriots, and let me just say that everything goes to hell. Crossing the border wasn't the ending of this film, and the final act was a nail-biting one.
RICARDO PEREZ-SELSKY DIRECTS A GRITTY, HORRIFIC PORTRAYAL OF WHAT A MOTHER WILL DO TO PROTECT HER SON
Ricardo Perez-Selsky directs a downright gritty, horrific portrayal of what a mother will do to protect her son. Using the border as the springboard, and the highly volatile nature of illegal border crossing as the trigger, Sin Fronteras is as horrific as it is a cautionary story. The acting is excellent, the look and feel works wonders, and the pacing is break-neck. The obvious answer to the question of recommendation is yes, in a heartbeat. I also enjoyed the not so happy ending... remember what I said earlier about indie film being unpredictable?
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