Hummingbirds - 2023

Hummingbirds - 2023

Silvia and Beba tell their own coming-of-age story, transforming their hometown on the Texas-Mexico border into a wonderland of creative expression and activist hijinks. Filmed collaboratively over the final summer of their fleeting youth, their cinematic self-portrait celebrates the power of friendship and joy as tools of survival and resistance.

– edited and co-produced by Isidore Bethel / also edited by Jillian Schlesinger / directed by Silvia del Carmen Castaños and Estefanía Contreras / produced by Jillian Schlesinger, Miguel Drake-McLaughlin, Leslie Benavides, Ana Rodríguez-Falcó, Diane Ng, and Rivkah Beth Medow

– Cowboy Bear Ninja, Frankly Speaking Films, Impronta Films (international sales), POV (US broadcast)

– Berlinale Generation (Berlinale Documentary and Teddy Documentary/Essay Nominee), Sheffield DocFest, True/False FF (opening-night screening), San Francisco IFF, Morelia IFF, Guadalajara IFF, Gijón IFF, RIDM (Montreal IDF), AFI Latin American FF, IFF Boston, NewFest (NYC), Bentonville FF (Arkansas), Los Angeles Latino IFF, Pink Apple Zurich LGBT FF, Inside Out Toronto 2SLGBTQ+ FF, Millennium Docs Against Gravity (Poland), DocsMX, Chéries-Chéris Paris LGBTQ+ FF, Hot Springs Documentary FF, New/Next FF opening-night screening (Baltimore, MD), Nara IFF (Japan), Busan International Kids and Youth FF (Korea), Kinotrip FF (Slovenia), Let’s Doc Documentary FF for Young Audiences (Poland), MIX CPH LGBTQ+ FF (Denmark), Women Make Waves IFF (Taiwan), ReFrame FF (Canada), Fairy Tales Queer FF (Canada), Queer FF Bremen (Germany), Offkino Bielefeld (Germany), Biopic Fest (Italy), Mostra Internacional de Films de Dones de Barcelona (Spain), Folkestone Documentary Festival (UK), Milwaukee FF (Cultures & Communities), Nevada City FF, Vermont IFF, New Hampshire FF, Vino Vérité (Iowa City), New Cumberland Music + Film Festival (Pennsylvania), Tallahassee FF (Florida), Doctober (Bellingham, WA), Seattle Queer FF, Virginia FF, 41 North FF (Michigan), Athena FF (NYC), San Diego Latino FF, Women+Film Festival (Denver), Lost River FF (San Marcos, TX), Austin Film Society Doc Days, CineFestival (San Antonio, TX), Raza Cósmica (San Antonio, TX), El Paso FF (TX), Flatland FF (Lubbock, TX), CineSol FF (McAllen, TX), Latin American FF of Dallas, Film Diary NYC

– Berlinale Generation 14plus Grand Prize, NewFest Audience Award Runner-Up, New Hampshire FF Grand Jury Award, Nevada City FF Best Cinematography Award, Let’s Doc Documentary FF for Young Audiences Special Mention, Cinema Tropical Awards Best US Latinx Film Nomination

– 78 minutes

– with support from the Ford Foundation’s JustFilms, the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund and Women in Film Strategy Intensive, NBCU Academy Original Voices Fellowship, Field of Vision, IDA Pare Lorentz Documentary Fund, Arts2work, New York Foundation for the Arts, SFFILM, Firelight Media, Chicago Media Project Shifting Voices Fund, Doc Society Threshold Fund and Co-Creation Lab, Visions du Réel’s Work in Progress Lab, True/False & Catapult Rough Cut Retreat, Alliance for Media Arts + Culture, Mountainfilm, Chicken & Egg Pictures, Frameline Completion Fund, BAVC MediaMaker Fellowship, Los Cabos IFF Meet-Mart, Gotham Week Spotlight on Documentaries, Sheffield MeetMarket, Austin Film Society, Points North Institute CIFF/LEF Fellowship

PRESS:
Screen Daily: “A vibrant, infectious and surprisingly hopeful portrait of a divided America, fuelled not by idealism but dogged determination…Editors Isidore Bethel and Jillian Schlesinger — working amidst a collaborative of predominantly female, non-binary and queer young filmmakers — are careful not to make this an overtly political work…Personalities are allowed to shine as bright as the issues, making the film all the more immediate and powerful as a result.”
The Hollywood Reporter: “Something serious, vibrant and compelling courses through the levity…The resulting dual self-portrait has the sheen of summertime fun and the bright energy of creative focus for besties who are smart and terrifically likable.”
RogerEbert.com: “The charm of the film lies in its mix of brashness and serious introspection, mixing tone as much as it mixes its stylistic tendencies. The whole thing could collapse at any moment into something insular or even indulgent, yet the charms of these individuals, and the subtle pushes forward of its slight yet linear narrative, make for a truly enjoyable watch.”
POV Magazine: “An extraordinary self-portrait. In addition to sporting a brisk visual style and fresh approach, Hummingbirds is especially notable…as it is collaborative filmmaking at its finest.”
The Moveable Fest: “A refusal to conform extends to the film’s structure, which feels gently elusive, allowing one to experience Silvia and Beba’s reverie without any imposed narrative beats and while [they] craft their own narrative as filmmakers, they let life take its course, yielding a refreshing coming-of-age story…It would seem at first that their entire world is each other, a fact that editors Schlesinger and Isidore Bethel use to shrewd effect when a viewer’s growing awareness of Silvia and Beba’s respective families and their pasts make their present appear a little less carefree.”
Keyframe: “To watch Hummingbirds is to consider the pantheon of great movies about dynamic duos of young friends in all their love and anarchy…The emotions that arise here from various candid experiences…are the engine that drives this border-town buddy movie, full of hopes, dreams and resilience.”
Critic’s Notebook: “Hummingbirds is told from the inside, with the decision made to keep the imperfections in, and its considerable charm is due to that rawness.”
St. Louis Magazine: “One of the best examples from this year’s [True/False], which strives for that intensely personal connection between the audience and the subjects, is Silvia Del Carmen Castaños and Estefanía Contreras’ HummingbirdsHummingbirds offers a potent portrait of the struggles of growing up in a border town like Laredo, while still finding moments of joy in the fleeting transitional days of summer.”
Hammer to Nail: “Hummingbirds flits through its various themes with a cinematic energy befitting its title.”
Close-Up Film: “Hummingbirds is a summer hangout movie with enduring depth and charm.”
The Last Thing I Saw podcast True/False debrief (2:40 – 7:28): “It’s amazingly free of narrative without being tough in any way…It really is a joyous experience.” -Eric Hynes, “Definitely a highlight for the festival.” -Nicolas Rapold
– on the Los Angeles Times’ five-film must-see list for LALIFF: A “lucid self-portrait of bicultural queer youth…an unposed tapestry of lived experiences.”
– one of Paste’s highlights from New/Next Film Festival: “Spontaneous, improvisatory and naturally radical.”
– one of Vox’s “10 new documentaries to watch for:” “It’s often funny and heartbreaking at once, capturing the excitement and anticipation of a moment that flashes by and disappears before you realize how fleeting it is.”
– one of The Pitch’s best films of True/False: “A delightfully feisty portrait of the friendship between two Mexican-American teens…Silvia and Estefanía are human fireworks who you’ll fall in love with from the film’s first seconds.”
– one of The Guardian’s “best of this year’s True/False documentary festival”
– one of Cult MTL’s “5 Films to see at RIDM”
– one of REDEFINE’s “can’t-miss film picks” of True/False
Berlinale Generation International Jury statement: “A touching and subtle glimpse into the intimate moments of memorable characters.”

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