"How do we not look away while also caring for our hopeful spirit? It is important to not let go of the things that make us feel good or have once aided us in hard times."

Mariana Da Silva is the Creative Director and Founder of El Cine.

Follow El Cine for more film suggestions @somoselcine + somoselcine.org

“Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.” — Red from the film Shawshank Redemption.

That quote resonates with me in this moment. I do feel it. I feel hopeful. As dangerous as that is – we must stay active and engaged because hope cannot become passivity.

Rest, however, is a key ingredient in any fight. How do we not look away while also caring for our hopeful spirit? It is important to not let go of the things that make us feel good or have once aided us in hard times.

By now, you know of my film addiction, it’s how I learn and often how I disconnect and process. Films impact me. They move me to action.

I've been thinking how our generation has risen and I truly believe our vision of a better world is in part due to the films that have made us believe in it’s possibility. We know StarWars is a battle of good and evil. No middle ground. Much like our current fight.

My favorite recent online video was one of a very likable trumpet player playing the Evil Empire jingle as the French police marched at a protest. It was one of the most relevant videos I have seen lately. Film culture has consistently told us to stand up for moments such as these, and we have.

Right now is the perfect time to revisit the classics that shaped you. The ones that make you feel good because of their familiarity but also remind you of the strength within you.

Here are some of the inspirational films I recharge with:

The Pursuit of Happyness: Directed by Gabriele Muccino. “Don’t ever let somebody tell you you can’t do something. Including me.” Will Smith says to Jayden Smith, in stellar performances from both of them. This movie is so moving, it honestly makes you realize that if you can believe in yourself, you are a rich woman, or man. Based on a true story.

Streaming on Netflix.

Shawshank Redemption: Directed by Frank Darabont. This classic could not be more relevant right now. It dissects the injustices of those who are institutionalized, and the general brokenness of the justice system. This film is about hope and time well spent.

At the end of Shawshank you learn that hope is essential to the human spirit.

Available on Starz via Amazon Prime.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Directed by Gareth Edwards. Many will argue but to me, this film is where it's at with Star Wars. Rogue One is pure millennial heart. It’s of this moment, it’s romantic and epic. A revolution film led by a woman (Felicity Hoffman) and Diego Luna as her sidekick. I can’t stress enough how much I love this film and how much bravery it sparks in me.

Streaming on Disney Plus.

“This is our moment to make a difference. Are you with me?” - Jyn Erso

In the Time of the Butterflies: Directed by Mariano Barroso. Based on the book written by Julia Alvarez, this film tells the true story of Minerva who was one of the Maribel sisters. The sisters opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. They organized and truly began what became the country's revolution. Their story is wildly empowering and important.

Available for rent on Microsoft.

Creed: Directed by Ryan Coogler. A film for the fighters. A pump up movie deep rooted in the human spirit. A great fighter once said “It ain’t about how hard you can hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

Available for rent on Amazon Prime.

Now rest and fight on.

Meet The Family

Mariana Da Silva is a Brazilian Mexican writer/actress who lives in Los Angeles. She is the founder of El Cine, a Latin Film Organization that promotes film education and charitable giving. Mariana has appeared on Telenovelas and TV series, her credits include El Rostro De Analia, Las Dos Caras de Ana and NCIS. Mariana's  short films have appeared at festivals world wide.

Mariana is right handed.  www.somoselcine.org

"...when someone is violated in such a personal manner, how they respond is equally as personal. In other words, there is no uniform way for all survivors to react."

*Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault

My phone buzzed with an incoming text from a friend: “Holy sh*t! Have you seen this? You’d be PERFECT for this show!” With the click of the link, the trailer for HBO’s I May Destroy You played on my phone, and with it, a new series obsession was formed.

Conceived, written by and starring Michaela Coel, the dark dramedy follows Arabella, a writer who struggles to piece things together after her sexual assault.* Now five episodes in, the show is both jarring and rooted, both funny and infuriating, perfectly capturing how disjointed you can feel after being violated while the world marches on.

For me, this rings especially true. You see, the reason this friend sent me the trailer is not because I’m a fan of Michaela (though I am!) nor because I love dark dramedies (though I do!). She sent this to me because she knew it’d be like watching a version of myself.

In 2017 I was in the middle of participating in a prestigious writing fellowship (ironically given by HBO) when I jumped into a relationship that started off as a whirlwind romance, became a toxic tornado, and ended in rape. This was compounded by the fact that it wasn’t my first assault, so it brought up all sorts of PTSD from childhood and adolescence that I wasn’t aware I had.

(Note: revictimization, the increased risk of sexual assault survivors of being assaulted in the future, is a common phenomenon.)

Around this time I’d also just been selected for the competitive Emergence Filmmakers grant, so though I felt dead inside, both the fellowship and filmmaking trains were moving full steam ahead. This set me squarely in the middle of a juxtaposition; while I was at one of my highest moments professionally, I was at one of my lowest moments personally.

During the day I took meetings with a smile plastered on my face as I met with managers, production companies and studio execs, also known as the “water bottle tour” that emerging writers take when being introduced to the town. Most of those meetings went really well, though afterwards I’d sometimes need a pain reliever for the pounding headache that would arise from all the mental strain required to keep it together. At night I was averaging two to three bottles of wine per week, a “socially acceptable” way to stave off an implosion.

On the networking front, friends and colleagues complimented me on how great I looked after losing weight. I’d thank them for noticing, never sharing the reason I’d dropped 15 lbs was because I was barely eating, my loss of appetite from depression catching up with me.

Speaking of the d-word, it’s not always worn on its sleeve, at least not in the ways most people think of. In the show, Arabella laughs and jokes as she takes selfies with her fans. Moreover, she makes excuses for Simon (her “friend” who convinces her to get lit but doesn’t bother to make sure she gets home safely), stuck on giving him the benefit of the doubt. Likewise, I went on a work retreat with my perpetrator, basking on a beach while I convinced myself he’d just gotten carried away. Another survivor I know made her rapist breakfast the next morning, pretending it never happened. My point is when someone is violated in such a personal manner, how they respond is equally as personal. In other words, there is no uniform way for all survivors to react. Arabella’s irreverent sense of humor vs. Kwame’s quiet contemplation is a great illustration of the spectrum of responses you can get.

On the darker side of recovery, there were the intrusive thoughts, flashbacks to moments I’d attempted to forget, but that my subconscious would bring to the surface at the most inopportune times. In the show, we see this frequently, as Arabella is triggered by certain sights and sounds, her body forcing her to reckon with what her mind would rather repress. There’s a saying in trauma therapy that “The body keeps the score” (coined by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk whose book of the same title is lauded in therapy circles for good reason) and it’s true. When your body is a crime scene you can attempt to silence your trauma, but at some point, its quiet prompts for help will grow into screams until you can no longer ignore it. This is conveyed so compellingly when Arabella goes to the station and the officer assigned to her case (played compassionately by Sarah Niles) helps her to finally admit to herself that she was raped. The weight of that word hits her and she immediately hides her face in her shirt, crying for the first time.

I recognized that as the heartbreaking, come-to-Jesus moment that many survivors have of finally calling a thing a thing.

And yet, as Arabella learns, deadlines don’t disappear while you deal with the aftermath of your assault. Unless you’re in the unbelievably privileged position of being able to afford to take a sabbatical while you process your trauma (and God bless you if you are), you still have an obligation to fulfill your responsibilities, whether that’s to your career, your family or otherwise. This is the aspect of the show that I’m most drawn to, as it so deftly shows the mental gymnastics you’re constantly performing in an effort to keep up and not get sucked into a spiral.

So, how do you stop yourself from spinning out? For me it’s been a combination of unpacking things in therapy, channeling my anger through boxing, clearing my mind through journaling, sharing my story on the stage and on the page, and reconnecting with my body through yoga and dance. I was lucky enough to join a support group where I could share in a safe space and for a few months, I leaned heavily on my friends. This was absolutely critical to my healing, so I can’t overstate how much of a lifeline having a support system can be! In my case, it was Tara and Aisha. For Arabella, it’s Terry and Kwame. My hope is that every survivor watching has their own version of this, friends who show up, even when they don’t know what to say. Friends who not only believe you but are willing to sit with you in your immense anger and grief. Friends who do their best to help you put the pieces back together, yet don’t rush you as you begin to heal.

“When you’re raped by a stranger, you doubt the world. When you’re raped by someone you know, you doubt yourself.” One of the crisis counselors shared this quote with the group and it’s stuck with me ever since. No matter which one applies, having shows like this on the air is incredibly validating and helps chip away at that doubt a little more.

*If you or someone you know are in need of crisis support, contact RAINN, Peace Over Violence or reference the resources shared by I May Destroy You here. You are not alone.

Meet The Family

Brandi Nicole Payne is an artivist who splits her time between Memphis and Los Angeles. Her work has aired on television and screened at both regional and international film festivals. An HBO Writers Program Fellow, Emergence Filmmakers Grant recipient and proud member of RAINN's Speakers Bureau, her goal as an actor, writer and filmmaker is to use story to spark discussion, create community and help facilitate healing.

Find her here & here.

Watch her films here

  • Andrea Hernández

"Whatever you identify as, there's no denying that food is fundamental in our lives and the connection of food with our emotional state. Let's go back to our roots, reconnecting with what nurtures us from the inside out."

This piece comes courtesy of Mood Foods

This is a dispatch from a nurturing place. Let's take a deep breath in together shall we? I'm writing to you from a warm spot in the tropics whilst consuming a cafecito (or two) on a mission to share an inherent knowledge to us as a collective. Food is fundamental. And if we are, in fact, what we eat —what does astrology say about our eating habits, according to our sign?

If you're an astrology fanatico, you may have just rolled your eyes and let out a big old sigh, but let's just indulge ourselves for a bit (no pun intended, by all means read this with snacks in hand) and focus on our sun signs just for the sake of it. As always, read for your sun, moon and rising to get a better scope of how you do you boo.


Ruled by aggressive Mars —fellow rams, if you're like me you like to indulge in picante food, anything hot and energizing. Pass the sliced mango, and don't forget the hot sauce, cayenne pepper, and lime juice. When life gives you lemons, you make a spicy ceviche instead! Slow your roll though, if you tend to inhale your food (a trait I'm guilty of) remember that you don't always have to be first, it ain't a race baby, it's a tasteful journey.


Sensual Taurus, ruled by Venus, a true gastronomo. You're here to indulge in all your senses and food is a plate best served in every possible way imaginable. You want food to spark your senses and you're not afraid to splurge on these pleasurable experiences. Unlike Aries, you're about taking your time whilst you eat, you need a relaxed environment where you can anchor down while you make your way through aperitivos, main course and desserts.


Chatty, breezy and friendly ruled by Mercury, the messenger planet. You're the reason sobremesa exists dear Gemini, you're all about good conversations around good food in good company. You're the type who likes to get creative in your kitchen, experimentation is your forte and you're not afraid to let your curiosity drive what takeout menu you go for this time. You're all about variation, you're most likely a connoisseur of latest trends in gastronomy or the kind of friend who's well versed in all the latest restaurant openings.


Nurturing at their core, ruled by the matriarchal Moon, Cancer's are known for their culinary abilities, not a coincidence that famous chefs such as the late Anthony Bourdain and Jose Andres are both native to this sign. You're a fan of homemade food, you actually love preparing meals for others, you're most likely to transcribe your abuelita's recipes. Emotions are tied to food, and can be used to celebrate and bring you comfort when you're feeling down.


The ego driven lion, ruled by the Sun, is always in search of a royal feast. You want luxury, but you're more about being seeing, getting dressed up for brunch is revitalizing for you and would probably disapprove of those who think athleisure is apropo at a dinner table. You love to host dinner parties where you can be both the admiration and entertainment to your loved ones, you may not be the one doing all the cooking but you won't hesitate to splurge on catering or go beyond and put the effort in the kitchen as long as it brings a smile to your guests.


Known for their tendencies to self-sacrifice, you guys are not opposed to trying out a diet for the sake of wellness, and may be the only ones to be able to carry it through without cheating on the occasional concha or empanada. You can make the most aesthetically pleasing dishes because of your attention to details, the kind of person that can take a simple salad and elevate it to the highest level of cuisine, you're also a great food upcycler, not wanting things to go to waste, you can make anything out of scraps!


Much like your other Venus ruled cousin, Taurus, you're all about indulging in beauty, aesthetics, well balanced meals that most definitely include a vinito or champagne, pero del bueno! Libra's are known for their sweet tooth as well as necessitating a particular atmosphere and aesthetics to elevate any meal. You're more into smaller portions so as to not go overboard (again, balance) and make room for everything that's on the meal course.


Co-ruled by both Pluto and Mars, Scorpios have an intense affinity for life. Like their cousin Aries, they can't tolerate the absence of spice, they might never forgive you for giving them anything bland. Your belief of "all or nothing" is what drives your appetite, whether it's cooking or dining out, you want the full on experience. Scorpio represents deep waters, and like your fellow water signs, you're not one to shy away from a mind expansive cocktail, dos o tres!


Oh baby, when it comes to indulgences, no one does it like a Sag, who's benevolent ruler Jupiter, is all about abundance. Thy cup runneth over, whether it's a mezcal drink indulged in the beaches of Tulum, to slurping spicy noodles in your home as travel is scarce, (much to your disappointment, as you're the epitome of wanderlust) you're all about bringing the exotic into your table and kitchen. You like to eat, drink, be merry and repeat. You look forward to sharing your table with foreigners, the wise, the philosophical and those who're like you, just looking to have a good time.


Ruled by stern Saturn, Capricorns are the workaholics of the zodiac, they may not make time for you, but they will certainly make space for a good meal. Capricorns are all about quality versus quantity, you keep to your meal schedule and won't hesitate to be the one to treat friends or family to lavish meals, as providing for others is your love language. You're traditional so a homemade meal is always something you appreciate, they won't appreciate you pushing food when they've said their full though, Saturn is about everything in good measure, and Capricorn follows through.


The humanitarian of the zodiac, ruled by radical and eclectic Uranus. You're into anything unusual, new and due to your compassionate nature, you may turn to more cruelty-free diets. You're not one to cook often, in fact, you're not a fan of routines at all. Not likely to follow recipes, "al pie de la letra" and you like going down your own path when it comes to picking out restaurants & takeout –you won't resort to "what's on trend." You're a fan of café as it fuels your brilliant mind and unconventional ideas!


As the last stage in the zodiac wheel, you're very much the type to indulge in food hedonism. You are the type to cook as a way to declare your love to others, as you're usually more of a detached being. You like to extend aperitivos into late night meals in deep conversations, illuminated by candle light and copious amounts of wine, which in turns tends to blur your vision both literally and metaphorically, detoxes and cleanses are good for you.

Whatever you identify as, there's no denying that food is fundamental in our lives and the connection of food with our emotional state. Let's go back to our roots, reconnecting with what nurtures us from the inside out.

Meet The Family

Andrea Hernandez is the founder of Mood Food Snacks, a company created to provide a more mindful way of snacking. Using food to nurture and enhance our feelings with ingredients available in nature that compliment the whole spectrum of emotions and in turn nourish our bodies.

She is equal parts enlightened and flawed.

Find her here and here.


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