What We Leave Behind
Synopsis: 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.
TM: In an attempt to understand her grandfather more, Director Illiana Sosa documents her grandfather, Julian, through the last 7 years of his life, including his last breaths. In his final several years, he decides to buy property and build a home for younger family. A labor of love; a dying legacy.
Conversations vary throughout the film, from traditions, the afterlife, Julian’s life as a bracero, his love for his late wife, and the future safety of his blind brother. Without realizing it, Sosa builds a beautiful memoir that opens up bigger conversations about borders, language and culture.
Do you miss your grandfather? This is the film for you. While I lack any Latino blood in my origins, Sosa’s portrayal of her grandfather resonates across cultures. Julian is everyone’s grandpa - stubborn, habitual, closed-off, but also with a desire to leave his family with every opportunity possible. A delightfully poetic film in a slow-burn format.
Tuesday’s Rating: 3 Shots
KM: This documentary moves at a slow pace, but in a good way. As a viewer, you really get to sink into Grandfather Julian’s rhythm of life. I loved the small details, like his disgust for flies in the house, and his determination to work. Age didn’t stop him from doing any heavy lifting.
Sosa’s filmography left me feeling like I was there with the family. Her sense of composition in her shots, attention to lighting, and color, really made this piece like a work of art. I was particularly struck by the moments she was shooting inside some old Spanish ruins. The ornate window shapes framing the village beyond gave us a sense of deep place.
But the moment that will forever stick with me, is the delicate and heartbreaking scene of her grandfather passing away. Shot from her iPhone, Sosa captured the moment her family was gathered around Julian, fervently praying the rosary as he took his last breaths. It took me back to when my own grandfather was passing. My family did the same.
Kaely’s Rating: 4 Shots