Stage 32 recently announced multi-award-winning short film, Bienvenidos a Los Ángeles, is among the winners of their 8th Annual Short Film Contest. Written and directed by Lisa Cole, the film aims to open hearts and minds by putting a face on the humanity behind the issue of immigration. Bienvenidos a Los Angeles, and other Stage 32 winning films, will be screened opening night at the 19th annual HollyShorts Film Festival taking place on August 10th at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood.
Inspired by a true immigration story, Bienvenidos a Los Angeles tells the story of Imani, a 24-year-old Nigerian single mother living and working in Los Angeles who gets the devastating news that the Muslim ban has jeopardized her green card application and she must leave the country. On her shared-ride home, she meets Elizabeth, an undocumented Mexican woman on her way to LAX to reunite with her 6-year-old son whom she hasn’t seen since she left him behind five years ago in search of a better future for her family. Reeling from the total loss of control in her own life, Imani offers to help Elizabeth, not realizing that this simple act of kindness carries immense risk.
“I believe everyone has a story and deserves to be seen. But, when society is driven by fear, people are often relegated to stereotypes. When one takes the time to see beyond labels, complex human beings come into focus and a kinder world emerges,” said Cole.
Lisa Cole is a creative activist, writer, producer and director, who amplifies diverse underrepresented voices and exposes social injustices. Having lived with 201 host families across 12 countries in just three years, Cole’s diverse background fuels her storytelling. She has several feature films in development including working with producers Laura Bickford and Nathan Ross. In addition, Cole has directed and produced documentaries for The Gates Foundation, Sundance Institute, Viacom, BET, and A&E, focusing on women’s health and safety in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.
Among the many accolades Bienvenidos a Los Ángeles has received, the film recently won the 2023 Diversity in Cannes Short Film Showcase, the independent film movement promoting inclusion at the Festival de Cannes. Presented by Diversity in Cannes founder, Yolonda Brinkley, with support from Julius Tennon and Academy Award Winner Viola Davis’ JuVee Productions, the showcase featured uniquely themed films from America, Asia, New Zealand, Nigeria and points in between.
As part of the film’s community-centered immigrant rights impact initiative, Bienvenidos a Los Ángeles has partnered with the Refugee Children Center, a Los Angeles-based non-profit supporting unaccompanied minors seeking asylum in the United States. The film is raising awareness and financial support for the organization by hosting community screenings and Q&A’s to spark dialogue about complicated issues surrounding immigration and vulnerable populations. The Center was recently recognized as an organization by the Recognition and Accreditation Program (R&A) from the United States Department of Justice.
“I see the story of Bienvenidos a Los Angeles reflected in each mother and caregiver at the Center,” said Mayra Medina-Nuñez, Executive Director at the Refugee Children Center. “Bienvenidos a Los Angeles highlights the humanity and the solidarity amongst human beings regardless of their legal or socio-economic status. It touches on the complexity of immigration laws in the United States while focusing on the strong love of a mother for their children.”