La Carnada

By Josh Soskin | Drama
A Mexican boy embarks on his first drug smuggle across the Devil's Highway -- a notoriously fatal stretch of the Arizona desert.

Manny is a young 13-year-old boy with a sick mother. Faced with limited prospects, the smart, pragmatic kid decides to help her by sneaking drugs into the U.S.

But his first smuggle across the “Devil’s Highway,” a fatal stretch of the Arizona/Mexico border, is not just an introduction to danger, but a rough coming-of-age.

Writer-director Josh Soskin’s taut drama is a short that examines the bonds of family, the effects of poverty in the age of globalization and the dangers that emerge when the two intersect. Through precise, fluid direction and a telling eye for detail, the film manages to pack rich storytelling within its economical approach, whether it’s the wide shot that shows the sex worker plying her trade in the margins of the frame or the simple way Manny’s shoulders drop when he realizes he and his sick mother have no money.

Visually the film is remarkable, capturing the textures and light of the Mexican desert and border town, full of sunfaded colors and the heaps of worn buildings nestled in the hillsides, as well as the lived-in home of Manny and his mother, cluttered with the stockpile of those who hold onto what little they have, no matter what. The images and setting are authentic — the film was shot in east Tijuana, as well as in the Sonoran desert — but captured in a subtle, matter-of-fact way.

Much of the film’s power is carried on the weight of its young lead performer, Angel Soto, Jr., who plays Manny with a melancholy and world-weariness, showing what it looks like when children carry a burden of responsibility at much too young of an age. Even as a very young teen, Manny is intelligent, mature and conscientious, which makes it understandable why he would be driven to make such a perilous decision.

But he is also still a young child, and ultimately in over his head. As the web of drug traffickers and border police weaves itself around him, he finds himself lost — and the ultimate pawn in the winds of much more complex geopolitical realities much larger than himself.

“La Carnada” ends in a twist that is brutal in its calculation, and reveals that no matter how smart, its individual foot soldiers are, there are larger, murkier, ever mutable forces at work that no one player — or perhaps even policy or law — can outsmart. But what’s brilliant about this powerful film is that it never lets us forget the “small-scale” human cost, often made out of ordinary everyday desperation, loyalty and love.




You Might Also Like:

Mordechai

By Benjamin Bee | Drama
An ultra-orthodox Jew hasn't seen his identical twin brother in years. But today is the day of their father's funeral.

Retouch

By Kaveh Mazaheri | Drama
Her husband has an accident at home... and she just watches him die.

Stealing Silver ft. Maisie Williams

By Mark Lobatto | Drama
A woman confronts a painful time in her life after discovering the truth about a mysterious old man living across from her.

Joseph’s Reel

By Michael Lavers | Romance
An elderly man, upon dying, is given the opportunity to relive one day of his life.

Cradle

By Devon Manney | Animation
Returning to the U.S. after losing both arms, a veteran battles phantom pains, prosthetics and memories of his pre-war life.

Hold On

By Charlotte Scott-Wilson | Drama
A young cellist develops stage fright after one of her cello strings comes lose during an important performance.

Don’t Be a Hero

By Pete Lee | Drama
A middle-aged woman battles her loneliness and boredom by robbing banks in the guise of a cowboy on her lunch break.

Our Kind of Love

By Elham Ehsas and Azeem Bhati | Romance
An Afghan village girl goes on her first date in London.

Lost and Found

By Andrew Goldsmith and Bradley Slabe | Animation
A clumsy crochet dinosaur must unravel itself to save the love of its life.

Edmund the Magnificent ft. David Bradley, Ian McKellen

By Ben Ockrent | Comedy
A once-legendary farmer takes a chance and invests his life savings in a thoroughbred piglet.

Reception

By Joe Gillette | Romance
Two strangers, trying to avoid the crowd at a wedding reception, end up making an unexpected connection.

Exit Strategy

By Travis Bible | Sci-Fi
A man in a time loop must work with his brother to prevent a catastrophic fire.

Garfield

By Georgi Bank-Davies | Romance
A young woman wakes up in a strange place, with a strange guy. Then, she start to piece together how she got there.

Partners

By Joey Ally | Romance
A couple's love life begins to slump, forcing them to reconsider the relationship and confront how intertwined they've become.

Balance

By Mark Ram | Drama
Two friends climb a mountain, connected by a rope. But when one falls, the other's life hangs in an unstable balance.



Your favorite short films you haven't seen yet.

Inspiring and insightful. Entertaining and enlightening.
That's what you can expect here: no fluff. Just a steady
stream of the best films delivered to your inbox.