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Sundance 2020 Review: "La Leyenda Negra" (2020) ★★★


The most important thing for a healthy existence or living, in general, is a certainty. The certainty of the future, of the present, of having a good job and a steady financial situation. Also, to be assured that not even a single immigration officer will be running after you or someone you care about. To just imagine how many great potentials can be lost due to the policymakers and their stubbornness is mind-boggling, which sadly, is the reality facing so many people in real life including the main protagonist of Patricia Vidal Delgado’s Aleteia in “La Leyenda Negra”.

Aleteia is from Salvador who has a Temporary Resident Status in the United States which is under threat of being lost under President Trump’s policies. After having just received her scholarship for UCLA, the bright and young woman, instead of concentrating on her future, is worried whether she can succeed in a country she considers her own. Apart from learning about the new changes, her friendship with Rosarito, a popular girl from school, is meet with the displeasure of Monica, who does everything possible to stop that growing friendship. However, it’s the same friendship that will force Aleteia to make a crucial decision in her life and continue being part of the resistance to fight for a home she has always known as hers.

“La Leyenda Negra” helps fit the storyline through the excellent and immaculate black-and-white shots that help the viewer concentrate on its concept. When the film starts, we find Aleteia more hopeful, hanging out with friends, and does not want to get into trouble with the authorities. When she meets with resistance, she is sure, at least in the beginning, she can’t mess up her opportunity. However, all that changes when, during a night shift, she learns about the new proposed changes by President Trump that puts at risk her temporary residence status. After meeting Rosarito, the young woman spends more time with her, causing anger to Monica, who thinks that Aleteia has feelings for her new friend. Whether that is true or not, it’s enough for Aleteia to get angry and make decisions that can either force her out of the country or stay within.

That said, written and directed by Patricia Vidal Delgado, “La Leyenda Negra” is an important film to watch for anyone who cares about the immigrant situation across the globe. As the film itself is set in the United States, it shows specifically how the issue touches Aleteia deeply and won’t allow her to concentrate on her studies. As the politicians have already decided on her behalf, through Aleteia we can recognize a hard-working person who can succeed and achieve all the great goals if she is allowed to stay. But because of her status and not because she did something wrong, it makes her unwanted in a country that is built on the bonds of immigrants.

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