USA, 2008, 105 minutes
Fri, Apr 24 / 6:00 / Kabuki / DONT24K
Sun, Apr 26 / 3:30 / Kabuki / DONT26K
Mon, May 4 / 4:00 / Kabuki / DONT04K
A love affair set amid the ruins of post-9/11 New York powers this strong feature debut by UC Berkeley graduate Cruz Angeles, who adapts a street-level neo-realist aesthetic to capture the vibrancy (and frictions) of a community rarely portrayed realistically onscreen, the city’s Latino Caribbean population. For two Brooklyn teenagers, life has changed after 9/11: The charismatic, Mexican-born Lalo has a father who once worked in the World Trade Center but now risks his health cleaning up debris at Ground Zero, while the Dominican Stefanie nurses a greater sorrow as she helps her father and mother deal with the loss of her sister, who died in the attacks. Meeting at a birthday party only a month after the disaster, Lalo and Stefanie begin a relationship that starts off rocky, but soon seems the only force for good in their lives. Merging a cinema verité portrait of the city’s Mexican and Dominican communities with a romantic lyricism, Don’t Let Me Drown possesses the toughness of its New York setting (and the sorrow of its specific time) but is, at heart, a love story. As Lalo, E.J. Bonilla gives his street-swaggering “Mexi-Yorker” a youthful charm and vulnerability, while Gleendilys Inoa balances a natural beauty with a combustible spark as Stefanie. Discovered after a lengthy casting process, the two first-time leads are joined by a who’s who of Latino actors, including Gina Torres (Firefly, Angel), Ricardo Antonio Charira (Desperate Housewives) and Damián Alcázar (who started his career in the films of Arturo Ripstein).
New Directors Prize Contender. West Coast Premiere.