With Hollywood and the entertainment world finally starting to return to some semblance of normality and the Cannes Film Festival currently underway, film fans around the globe can once again start to get excited at the prospect of new and exciting movies to see in the coming days, weeks and months. PopWrapped are delighted to premiere one such film, a short titled Luciela, which will screen as part of the PBS Short Film Festival that runs from July 12-23, and be available on several platforms such as PBS.org, YouTube and the PBS Video App.

The film, a co-production of Mare’s Hoof Productions and Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) is a poignant, powerful story about a young Mexican-American girl who, on what was once her favourite holiday, July 4th, is reminded of how her once close-knit family have been torn apart as her father has been deported. Now, instead of watching her father hosting an impressive fireworks display in Lincoln Heights as she used to, she decides to cause some sparks and excitement of her own.

“I first conceived of this story a few years ago. A friend invited me to her home in Lincoln Heights, to watch the fireworks on the 4th of July,” shares filmmaker Erin Ploss-Campoamor. “If you are not familiar with Lincoln Heights, it is a mostly Latinx, mostly immigrant neighborhood, up in the hills of Los Angeles. This was not the first time I had seen fireworks in L.A. – after all, I’ve lived here for over twenty years. But Lincoln Heights takes this holiday to a whole other level. The sheer quantity of fireworks exploding in the streets and backyards is extraordinary. Plus, from there you can see the official firework shows at Dodger Stadium, downtown L.A., and the rest of the city. It is truly breath-taking: a visual spectacle that is highly cinematic and absolutely unforgettable. But even beyond the beauty of the fireworks themselves, there was something particularly moving about the exuberance I witnessed that night as Lincoln Heights literally exploded with joy, light and noise.”

She goes on to add: “It felt especially poignant that I was experiencing this in a predominantly Latinx neighborhood, knowing that immigrant rights were actively under threat and xenophobia was on the rise. I loved that this community was celebrating our country’s Independence Day so loudly and proudly. Filling the sky, saying, “See us! Hear us! We are here! From that experience, the seeds of this story were planted. I started writing a script about a 7 year old girl, Luciela, whose father throws the best firework shows on their block. The film starts with one of his 4th of July parties, as Luciela snuggles with him, and enjoys the show. Cut to, a year later. Luciela is now in her backyard, alone. Her father has been deported to Mexico, and everything is turned upside down. Then she finds his box of fireworks, hidden in the basement, and decides to take matters into her own hands.”

Asked what message she feels the movie shares and what she wants those who see the film to take from it, she concludes: “I wanted to tell a story of resilience, that was true to the spirit of Independence Day.  I feel like, now more than ever, we need to light up the darkness with beautiful rebellion. I think these past few years have been so difficult that we could all use some beauty and joy in our lives. A reminder that children can be resilient in the face of incredible loss. I’d love for my film to be a tiny sparkle of hope in the darkness.”

Check out Luciela below and for more information on the PBS Short Film Festival, visit the website. Header photo credit: Carlos R. Hernandez.