What We Leave Behind - 2022

What We Leave Behind - 2022

After a lifetime of bus rides to the US to visit his children, Julián quietly starts building a house in rural Mexico. In filming his work, his granddaughter crafts a personal and poetic love letter to him and his homeland.

– edited, co-written and co-produced by Isidore Bethel / directed, written, photographed, and produced by Iliana Sosa / produced by Emma D. Miller

– SXSW, First Look (Museum of the Moving Image), Full Frame, Guanajuato International Film Festival, Thin Line Fest, Phoenix Film Festival, RiverRun International Film Festival, North by North International Film Festival, Milwaukee Film Festival, the DocYard, Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, Philadelphia Latino Film Festival, Cine Las Americas International Film Festival (Hecho en Tejas centerpiece film), California Capital International Documentary Film Festival

– SXSW Louis Black “Lone Star” Award, SXSW Fandor New Voices Award, Thin Line Fest Emerging Filmmaker Award, North by North Best Feature Award

– 71 minutes

– with support from the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms, the Sundance Institute Documentary Program, Field of Vision, City of El Paso Museums and Cultural Affairs Department, the Austin Film Society, Catapult Film Fund, the True/False & Catapult Rough Cut Retreat, the Jacob Burns Film Center Creative Culture Residency, the Gotham Documentary Lab, the Logan Nonfiction Program, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Ji.hlava New Visions Forum

PRESS:
Filmmaker: “What We Leave Behind is an astonishingly intimate labor of love.”
Boston Globe: A “limpid, emotionally deep, and poetically resonant documentary.”
– on the Los Angeles Times’ five-film highlights list for LALIFF: “From intimate conversations and quiet moments of contemplation, Mexican American filmmaker Iliana Sosa renders a loving portrait of her elderly grandfather Julián.”
Texas Monthly: “What We Leave Behind was the surprise masterpiece of SXSW.”
The Austin Chronicle: “Iliana Sosa offers an intimate portrait of a family separated by distance but united in love, and a moving exploration of the many metaphorical meanings of ‘crossing over.’ Simple scenes filmed with reverence and Sosa’s brilliant eye for light and angles elevate daily routines to visual poetry.”
Texas Observer: The film “is arresting from the start…Moreno, the abuelo, is so compellingly self-contained and the domestic imagery of his life so striking that the film thrives on silence and simple themes…The colors in What We Leave Behind are a feast…The concluding scenes, almost shocking in their intimacy, are an emotional roar, played out nonetheless with the film’s relentless subtlety.”
The Daily Texan: “Spinning ordinarily mundane moments into candid memories of Julián’s last few years, Sosa’s documentation of her grandfather leaves the audience emotional and in awe of the loving 89-year-old…With both funny and sincere moments, What We Leave Behind serves as a stunningly intimate remembrance of Julián. Impossible not to love, Julián’s on-screen presence at the SXSW premiere was a heart-warming yet emotional experience for the audience.”
Hammer to Nail recommendation and review: “A beautifully photographed tribute to the director’s nonagenarian grandfather, Iliana Sosa’s What We Leave Behind showcases a life well lived, or at least fully so…Though this documentary may be but 70 minutes long, it manages to feel comprehensive in its portrait of a man determined to leave this world on his own terms…It’s a lovely paean to a human force of nature.”
– KENS5 recommendation and review: “…a deeply melancholic feature-length documentary debut that locates its soul by not pressuring itself to look for it. It’s an ode to a way of living and a portrait of the latter days of a life fully lived, gracefully edited together with a patience mirroring the small rural community where it was shot.”
Cinapse: “The power of Sosa’s documentary dwells in the pauses between sentences, the breaks in the stories being told.”
Production Hub interview: “Editor Isidore Bethel Describes Working on SXSW Documentary Feature, What We Leave Behind
– interview with Iliana Sosa, Isidore Bethel, and Emma D. Miller by Deadline’s Matthew Carey: “Sosa credits Bethel for helping her find the film through their collaboration.”
– interview with Iliana Sosa by Eye for Film: “A moving personal story and a portrait of a world rarely seen on film, What We Leave Behind was one of the unexpected hits of this year’s South by Southwest.”
– interview with Iliana Sosa by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists: Isidore “loved everything I’d always loved about my grandfather — his offhanded comedic timing, his evocative gestures, his wisdom grounded in labor and land. Isidore was also able to situate those feelings in specific moments from the footage. This inspired tremendous confidence in me.”
– interview with Iliana Sosa by The Moveable Fest: “Isidore really took the material and just ran with it…It was such a collaborative process and we would have extensive conversations about what you see in the film. The editing is really the key.”
– on Unseen Films’ First Look recommendation list and Hammer to Nail’s, Austin 360’s, Orca Sound’s, Jim Kolmar’s Realscreen, The Cherry Picks’, Austin Vida’s, and KENS5’s must-see lists for SXSW
– SXSW Lone Star Award Jury Statement: “Iliana Sosa’s exquisite documentary What We Leave Behind is a love letter to her Mexican grandfather, whose final decline she chronicles with artful grace. It is also a moving look at a family disconnected by both border and dreams, and how their patriarch, too old now for his monthly 20-hour bus rides from Durango into Texas, worries who will hold the center once he’s gone. Eighty-nine-year-old Julián has the face and gravitas of an old-time movie star. Sosa has made a profound, gorgeous movie worthy of her precious subject.”
– SXSW New Voices Award Jury Statement: “Iliana beautifully captures the lives and vulnerability of her family, particularly Julián’s humanity, commitment to family and sense of humor in the face of mortality. What We Leave Behind embodies the type of captivating storytelling we work to elevate at Fandor. We could not be more excited to present Iliana with the Fandor New Voices Award.”


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