SIN RAÍCES (Movie Short) 2023 Film Review

Director Gabriella A. Moses
Written by Gabriella A. Moses
Cinematography Freddie Whitman
Edited by Polina Buchak and Gabriella A. Moses
Music by Nitzia “Nitty” Scott
Sound Design Patrick Burgess
Art Direction Carla Sendino
Main Cast Viktoria Luna, Sasha Merci, Maddie Blue, Nira, Hillary Sproul, Shani Divine, Anjini Azhar, Willie Huang, Darlene “Dee” Demorizi, Ed Ventura, Darius Levante

SIN RAÍCES, the fourth short film from Gabriella Athena Moses, showcases her talent as one of the recipients of the Latinx Inclusion Fellowship in collaboration with Netflix.

Director Gabriella A. Moses. Picture, courtesy of Tribeca Film Institute

Yahaira, played by Sasha Merci, a successful pop star gearing up for an awards show, and Alma played by Viktoria Divine, an 8-year-old refugee recently adopted by Yahaira, take center stage in this poignant story. As with many of Moses’s films, which often explore coming-of-age stories through the lens of a child, SIN RAÍCES unfolds through Alma’s perspective.

The story follows Alma’s adjustment to her new life after being uprooted from her home in El Salvador. The film offers glimpses of what has been left behind, as we watch Alma’s new start in a beautiful yet sterile LA home. The set design deliberately highlights the physical and emotional distance between Alma and Yahaira. Despite this distance, the vulnerability and mutual desire for protection between Alma and Yahaira shine through.

A powerful scene set in Yahaira’s closet where Alma plays dress-up, introduces a surreal moment with another girl resembling Alma. The tension builds as the two stare at each other, echoing Alma’s confusion. The revelation that the other girl is the daughter of Yahaira’s maid cleverly resolves the mystery, adding depth to the exploration of complex relationships.

Moses handles Yahaira’s struggle to connect with Alma, who comes from a vastly different background, with a gentle hand. The film’s title, SIN RAÍCES, meaning “Rootless,” encapsulates the central theme of the characters navigating together the challenges of forming new roots.

The open-ended nature of the film encourages viewers to reflect on Alma’s experience and draw their own conclusions about the characters’ lives and futures. Sin RAÍCES emerges not only as a visually captivating piece but also as a thought-provoking exploration of Latinx identities, skillfully crafted by Gabriella Athena Moses.


Click here for J Perez’s Q&A with Director Gabriella A. Moses


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