Bravery and Struggle – Albuquerque Journal
Everyone has a story, but few of them are heard.
Albuquerque-based nonprofit Bold Futures wants to change that.
Over the past two decades, the organization – formerly known as Young Women United – has worked to strengthen reproductive justice in New Mexico by and for women and people of color. Most recently, he has expanded his mission of building communities by leading policy change, research, organization and culture change by and for women and people of color in New Mexico.
In 2017, the association decided to try to use cinema to tell the stories of women who are so often speechless. “Everybody’s Sleeping” is this film, highlighting the realities of addiction and the desperately needed resources for families living in cycles of addiction.
Months of work and dozens of stories have been told. Ultimately, a script for “Everybody’s Sleeping” was completed.
“We were able to meet and chat with seven women to understand the complexities they face with their substance use, while balancing a family,” says Charlene Bencomo, Executive Director of Bold Futures. “There was a conversation that we wanted to tell the stories through a feature film.”
The film is already creating a buzz, winning the “Best Narrative Feature” award at the prestigious New York Latino Film Festival.
It will premiere in New Mexico at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival, with screenings Thursday, October 14 and Friday, October 15.
The film’s main character, Chama, played by Melissa Barrera, is an imaginative composite of the seven women who helped shape this script. Chama embraces elements of their bravery and struggles while exposing the difficult circumstances they endured.
Barrera, along with co-star Jackie Cruz, worked with mothers on and off set to capture and authentically represent their truth. Everyone really wanted to understand the “cyclical, chaotic, but hopeful” side of the fight against addiction.
Barrera has since been seen in the movie “In the Heights” and will be Carmen in the movie “Carmen”. Cruz rose to fame in the “Orange Is the New Black” television series.
Heading the production is Ryan Lacen from New Mexico.
The director says he’s been involved with the project from the start, often participating in discussions and writing the script.
“I sat for months and created a script that honored their voices, then brought it back to them and got grades,” says Lacen. “Then I adapted it. The seven women were devices in the process all the time. They were on set and there to work with the actors. We wanted it to come from a place of emotional honesty.
Because the film was produced by an organization in New Mexico and told stories of New Mexicans, it was important that production take place in the state.
Bencomo says the production chose Las Cruces to do the main photography.
She says production was a learning process. The fact that the community is getting involved and helping made her shine with emotion, she said.
“By merging the world of cinema with the non-profit one, there were some pitfalls along the way,” she says. “When we got to the shoot, we attracted extras through word of mouth. People wanted to be involved because it’s all about hope and positivity coming from a dark place. “
Doralee Urban is one of the women who met Bold Futures to tell her story.
She stepped forward not only to give herself a voice, but to give voice to the many women who are not seen.
“I am honored to be a part of something so important,” says Urban. “There have been so many women who have been in situations that I have been in before. It’s like we’re invisible most of the time, and I wanted to be part of it to express that we are people. There is a real problem there. We are people and we must be seen.
Urban is overwhelmed by the response to the film.
She hopes this will shed light on the subject and better care for people in difficulty, especially those with children.
“Substance use is a health problem,” she says. “Everyone has a bad idea. This does not mean that I love my children less. I am lucky because I found the help I needed and I continue to work on myself.
Lacen says being back in New Mexico was an honor for him. Lacen, who grew up in Albuquerque and graduated from the University of New Mexico, now lives in Los Angeles but is trying to run his projects in New Mexico.
He wanted the state to be another character in the film.
“I have toured all over the world and New Mexico has the best film community,” he said. “As an independent film, it’s almost impossible to finish. But everyone opened their doors and the community came together to help tell the vision. We want this film to open that curtain not only to show substance abuse issues, but also to provide ways to get help. “
UpFront is the Journal’s regular news and opinion column. Comment directly to Journal des arts editor Adrian Gomez at [email protected]