Gabriella A. Moses is a director, writer, and production designer born in New York to Dominican parents.
She is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and her thesis was the short film “Las mañanitas”, with which she has been at several festivals.
Her work in production design has led her to collaborate with fashion magazines, technology companies, and different beauty cosmetic brands.
His first feature film is “Boca Chica”, with which he will participate in the next edition of the Tribeca Festival (from June 7 to 18).
The cast of “Boca Chica” includes Jean Cruz, Pedro Salamanca, Cindy Lou Howard, Lia Chapman, Richardson Díaz, Sterlyn Ramírez, Eliseo Antonio Paredes, Scarlet Camilo, among others.
The script is by Mariana Rondón and Marité Ugas.
On the subject we spoke with Gabriella Moses via Zoom.
– How do you feel about being selected to go to the Tribeca Film Festival?
I like to say that much of this journey has been like a homecoming for me. I have been telling stories of Dominican migrants since I started writing. I had a script that I wanted to shoot in the Dominican Republic when my producer offered me this story, they offered me to direct it and we were able to travel to shoot in the Dominican Republic, where my roots are. My parents always thought that one day they would return to their country, but they ended up bringing their entire family and returning only to visit or for family reasons. This has been a beautiful journey for me. And Tribeca has supported my career from day one, in fact, I was a volunteer at the festival when I started studying film. Later, I had support through her program, Through Her Lens, in which they give master classes. Later I was able to present a feature film that I had written and, although I didn’t win, I was able to have a conversation with Hatherine Bigelow. Then I got into Tribeca’s All Access Program and Untold Stories. So it’s been a long journey of meeting and trying to get their support in different ways. Being at the festival feels like a blessing and it makes perfect sense to be in the city that has been the root of many of the stories that I tell and premiere here.
– It must be amazing to be a volunteer at the festival and now to be able to present a film in it, how does it feel?
A complete circle is closed. I hope I can help give visibility and inspiration to other filmmakers, because there is a lot of confusion about how to approach making a first film, how impossible it can seem, especially for women of color. It’s like opening a curtain: I volunteered and got to go to film school. Neither of my parents went to college, I was the first to graduate, so I wanted to learn about festivals while preparing my first film. It was the proof for me that I can start anywhere and not be afraid to learn, know and occupy spaces. You can start volunteering at a festival and end up shooting a film and premiering it at that same festival. It has been a humble and beautiful path, and you never know what it will follow. That Boca Chica is my first feature film is the lesson of all that. And I didn’t think this would be my first movie. I was developing another project through Sundance Labs and with that I went to the Tribeca All Access Forum. But this project was presented to me, it had financing and I felt that it was a story that I could tell. I hadn’t written the script for this story and for a moment it was discouraging, I didn’t know if I could shoot a movie that I hadn’t written, even though it was also going to be shot in the Dominican Republic. But it has been very interesting to carry out this project.
– What story does Boca Chica tell?
It tells the story of Desi, a 12-year-old girl who grows up on the beaches of Boca Chica, which is a tourist center outside the Dominican capital, Santo Domingo. Her family owns a restaurant and they are also dedicated to music, something that she feels as an inheritance from her and leads her to dream of dedicating herself to it. One of his brothers lives in New York and has become a successful musician and one of his cousins returns to the island to marry an American and when the whole family gathers for the first time in a long time for the wedding, the family secrets begin. to see the light and she begins to realize how she is growing up and how she must begin to protect herself and her dreams. I like to say that the film talks about the secrets we keep to protect our sense of family, our dreams in an environment where abuse occurs and how a girl tries to find her own voice. Through music.
– Do you think that a story that talks about abuse is better told by a female director?
I had a script developed about sex tourism on the island. I had worked with Fundación Mariposa for two months and learned a lot about sex work and its legality, how many young women have brothers and fathers involved in it. My script was more about how what empowers one woman can oppress another and how many of these women are the breadwinners for their families. This work, when it comes to young girls, is exploitation. And the Dominican Republic is a country where marriage with minors has been illegal for only three years, not to mention pregnancies in minors, many of these things come from sexual exploitation in tourist centers. That is the backdrop of the movie. For me, it’s more about hope, about a girl’s dreams and realizing the reality that so many others are going through.
Finally, what is your next project?
I have another project. Note that it is interesting how some directors make trilogies on some subject and, as I told you, I had a script in which he talks about two sisters, one of them disabled, who are engaged in sex tourism. It has to do with me because I have relatives who have suffered traumatic brain injuries and that’s why I’ve always wanted to tell about this issue, hence the story of the sisters: one of them works for a wealthy expatriate, his son comes to visit him and falls in love with him. he, who is a musician. She thinks about using music to help her sister and that perhaps this relationship is a way to escape her circumstances. But the center of the story I want it to be love, first love, the true one. This story is my debut as a film scriptwriter, I have also had a lot of support from the black and Latino community.
How important is black, Latino representation to you?
Very important. I was born in New York, I went to a Catholic school in the suburbs, then we moved to Virginia and the new school was predominantly white, no one to recognize me. I also did not see myself represented in the soap operas that my mother watched at night, nor in most of the media. In the Dominican Republic we are a mixed country, even in my family there are all the nuances. That’s why it was important to me that in Boca Chica the protagonist is a black girl, because a part of the film talks about race and I wanted to talk about what it’s like to have a family of black Dominican women, there are too many girls that you don’t see themselves neither in the media nor is it the films of their own country. That’s why I really liked having girls who don’t see themselves in the media or in the movies of their own country. That’s why I really liked having Scarlet Camilo, a great dancer and, from now on, a brilliant actress.