There is a whole world of independent films and I always feel privileged to have the opportunity to see as many, as often as I can. And there is something special, and I wish I could describe the feeling better, about finding a Latino filmmaker with as great a passion and drive as Andrew Jara.
In our unique circles, it was bound to happen that our paths should cross. Jara is a Texas native and Mexican-American, like myself, and my heart swelled when he offered me an opportunity to view his new, cosmic horror film. Born and raised in El Paso Texas, Andrew Jara has made a name for himself as a writer and director, with three feature length films on his resume. His latest project, The Empty Space is available now to own and rent through Bayview Entertainment.
We had the honor of having Mr. Jara guest on our podcast, along with the star of The Empty Space, Valerie Alene. I think we could have kept them much longer, as open as they were to discuss the context and making of the movie. Listening to Jara describe the creation of his film and all of his hard work getting it onto screens and into distribution on physical media is inspirational.
Indie filmmakers are keeping new and innovative cinema alive. Micro budgets, interesting film locations, new actors, unique stories, and diverse creatives are infusing the genre with exciting and weighty films. A small budget might be a deterrent for some, but a committed and passionate filmmaker like Andrew Jara, sees these obstacles as stepping stones and with no shortage of support. He has built a home for his films. You can listen to our full interview here: Interview with Andrew Jara & Valerie Alene.
The film follows Aimee Andrews as she deals with grief and anxiety after a violent attack leaves her boyfriend dead. When her boyfriend seemingly comes back to life, she will have to face her fears to find out exactly who or what has come back before she loses her grip on reality. This is the first feature length film release for Alene and a promising start at that. Her character is awkward, depressed, anxious, and afraid of inserting herself back into the real world. Hiding and mourning ceaselessly, she decides to take on a support group in hopes that she can find like-minded people. But there is only one thing she feels she needs and that is the one person whose life was taken and a life she was robbed of.
It was an enlightening conversation with Andrew Jara about the stigma of mental illness in Latino communities. In families it is/was all too common to have these thoughts and issues swept under the rug. The concept for The Empty Space was built around Jara’s personal battles with mental illness. It was refreshing to hear him speak openly about coping with anxiety and how this film was an imaginative way of expressing the struggles and loss so many of us experience. What if we can get back what we’ve lost? If our world could change for us, would it help?
Aimee’s dreams become reality when her boyfriend returns to her and for a while, all is great and perfect but it feels more like playing pretend. We hold onto all those good memories, all those perfect smiley moments, but that’s never what it really was. Loss is complex and moving forward doesn’t mean leaving anything behind. Help is difficult for a lot of us to seek and I take a lot of comfort in diving into movies like this that make us feel like we are not alone.
The Empty Space is a comfort film, a little heavy and sad, with a side of cosmic sci-fi horror, and an indie film that I am more than happy to share and support.