VIDA NUEVA "Rough Cut Sample"
PLEASE NOTE*** The video submitted is a rough cut missing AI animations, b-roll footage, pictures, the remainder of the interview footage & other footage, color-grading, sound mixing, and music as well as subtitles. It represents about one third of the film. We’re anticipating the Final Cut to be a little over 90 minutes. We have a completion time frame of of 7/01/23-08/01/2023 which we are confident we will complete by then if not earlier.
VIDA NUEVA (New Life) is an intimate documentary film that beautifully captures the emotional, joyful, and sometimes challenging journey toward change and forgiveness. In this film, we learn firsthand about the profound impact and life-long effects of long-term incarceration, the power of family, and the beauty of healing.
In 1997 Maximo Reyes was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison. His children Max, Eliana, Christian, and Sebastian Reyes were left in limbo with no other choice but to try to live their lives without the presence of their father.
26 years later, Maximo Reyes was set to be released on 11/25/2022. His daughter, Eliana (38), an actor, producer, and blossoming filmmaker decided it was important to tell this story and show the effects of long-term incarceration and deportation on individuals and families.
She partnered with her eldest brother Max (40) to document the entire process from emotionally preparing to reunite with their 2 siblings Christian (37) and Sebastian (32) in NYC and then all traveling together to reunite in the Dominican Republic with their father for the first time over 26 years.
What we will see is that as Eliana and Max try to juggle their lives, and plan and coordinate the logistics for the trip, they are faced with not only an emotional resurfacing of trauma but also with the anxiety of reintegrating their father into their lives. Adding to that anxiety is the lack of information and uncertainty around when exactly their father would be released from the BOP to ICE and then deported to the Dominican Republic.
After several date changes and almost losing hope, on 12/23/22 they received confirmation that he would be released from the US Marshall and deported to DR on 1/3/2023.
Filled with excitement and nerves they book their flights for 1/24/23 where they meet up with their other two siblings and reunite all together with their father for the first time in almost 26 years.
The captured reunion is a vulnerable but powerful moment where we see the years of pain, manifest in tears, shock, love, and prayer as a new beginning unfolds before the viewer's eyes.
We get to hear from each sibling on how the long-term incarceration of their father affected their lives and what they are looking forward to the most with this new life that will now include their father. We also get to hear from their father Maximo Reyes, now a pastor, on what it was like for him to be imprisoned for so long, how he was treated in the prison system, and the powerful source that kept him alive and filled with hope that one day he would be reunited with his family again.
My vision for the finished product is an innovative mixed-media film that not only tells us a story but transports you there.
FEELING: A film that is so vulnerable, raw, and real that it will invoke powerful feelings in the viewers and also inspire them to seek their own healing and forgiveness. Although all of the scenes are real raw moments, we did film it in a very cinematic kind of way so that it feels immersive and emotional.
INNOVATION: I have a passion for innovation so I decided to include an AI short story that will open the film to tell us about Maximo Reyes’s journey from DR to NYC to Prison and also using AI to bring old pictures to life. Additionally, we got creative with some fascinating drone footage and re-touched original pictures.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: We used great cameras to capture these moments.
Canon RF 24-70mm f/2.8L
Canon RF 70-200mm f/2.8L
Canon EF 35mm f/2
Canon EF 85mm f/1.4L
MUSIC: My proudest artistic approach is that all of the music is original. We are creating an entire soundtrack featuring original songs written and performed by the siblings. This really adds a unique twist as their styles range from Hip-Hop to Reggeaton, Merengue, Acoustic Baladas, and R&B both in Spanish and in English, and are the most honest representation of the Afro-Latino experience. The song in the trailer is one of the original songs made for the film.
Director- Eliana Reyes
Exec Producer- Maximo Reyes
Assistant Director-Lorena Jorge
Cinematographer & Editor-Chris McDuffie
Legal & Business Affairs Advisor- Glorimar Negron
Public Affairs Consultant- Anthony Reyes
Lorena JorgeAssistant DirectorKeep/Delete, Ultra Violet & The Black Scirpion
Eliana ReyesKey Cast
Maximo ReyesKey Cast
Christian ReyesKey Cast
Sebastian ReyesKey Cast
Maximo Reyes Sr.Key Cast
Project Type:Documentary, Feature
Completion Date:August 1, 2023
Production Budget:67,717 USD
Country of Origin:United States
Country of Filming:Dominican Republic, United States
Eliana Reyes is a dynamic Afro-Latina with a bright personality and infectious smile. She is a multi-disciplinary artist and entrepreneur with a profound passion for compelling storytelling. A true Renaissance woman, she works seamlessly in front and behind the camera.
As an Actor, she's had appearances in several National Commercials as well as independent film projects. As a Commercial/Fashion Model she's been featured in over 50 Ads/Campaigns for companies like American Airlines, Adidas, Best Buy, Target, and more. She also is a TV Host on the Broadcast and Digital talk show "Blacktinidad" on LATV Network.
Additionally, for the past 10 years, she has produced and directed multiple media projects for large-scale organizations including commercials. In 2018 one of Eliana’s media projects was selected to be a part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration Exhibit of the Historical Venue, First Ave in Minneapolis, MN. Her work was part of the exhibit for an entire year in the MN History Museum.
In 2019, Eliana stepped into what she believes is her calling and fully embraced her natural talent for Directing and bringing stories to life. She created "ANAMNESIS" a short film collection featuring three intimate experimental films based on her own true life stories that explore the inner dialogue of processing emotions.
In 2020 and 2021 she worked with Cinematographer Chris McDuffie and the St.Paul MN Foundation to create a series of 13 mini-documentaries telling the stories of grassroots organizations in the Great Lakes Region of Minnesota.
In 2022, Eliana was selected by We All Grow Latina as a Storyteller sponsored by Pure Leaf for their WeAllGrow Latina Summit. She worked with award-winning, author Cathy Murillo to craft a unique story to perform in front of over 600 attendees which was also live-streamed across the country.
In 2023 Eliana combined all her skills and took a courageous step in creating her first feature-length docu-film “Vida Nueva”, which captures the real and emotional journey of her and her siblings reuniting with their father after he was released from 26 years of imprisonment and deported to The Dominican Republic.
Currently, she is a Creative Producer for LATV Network leading the LATVRoots pillar which focuses on amplifying and celebrating the Afro-Latino community experiences. Eliana is now based in Los Angeles, CA where she continues to expand her career both in front and behind the camera.
She is devoted to advocating for social justice, women’s rights, holistic wellness, and body positivity. She openly shares her journey in hopes of inspiring others to use their voice, find their purpose, and be empowered to shine their light in the world.
Eliana also serves as the Board Chair for WISE, a non-profit organization supporting immigrant and refugee women and girls in their journey of self-actualization through culturally-responsive education, advocacy, systems change, and resource development.
As a Black Latina Filmmaker, I often feel ostracized from the industry. However, lately, I've been blessed with the confirmation that I have a vision and talent I can no longer ignore. The past few years I've pushed through a lot of imposter syndrome and continued to create with what was available to me and that is who I am as a filmmaker. I am someone that is committed to telling meaningful stories starting with my own because I believe that we do not go through things just to go through them. I believe there is a purpose in our trials/tribulations and magic in our growth. I also firmly believe that when we share our story, not only do we heal ourselves, but we heal as a collective and we heal the generations long before us. Although our pain and trauma are personal, it's less about us and more about all the others that do not have the tools, talent, skills, or resources to tell their stories.
My film "Vida Nueva" is a huge step in the direction I see myself going as a Director. Not only does it have an actual budget, a dynamic team, and the equipment I’ve always wanted to work with but it also required me to be extremely vulnerable. Truth be told, it cracked me open and unlocked a new layer of creativity for me. I guess that is also who I am as a filmmaker, someone who isn't afraid to get vulnerable and show the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Through this process, it is my hope to keep evolving in my craft and continue to take courageous leaps forward even when I am afraid or worried about funding & support. I am tremendously confident that I am facing the right direction and I will continue putting one foot in front of the other and allowing myself to blossom into the amazing storyteller I know I have been called to be.
It is truly my joy and honor to be a vessel for changing the narrative, bringing representation to our people, and being a source of collective healing.