ABOUT THE FILM
El Padrino introduces Christopher Alvarez to the world, or at least to the film world. His Instagram already has over three hundred and thirty-seven thousand followers—which is not surprising given how charismatic and inspiring he is. In El Padrino, Christopher plays Eduardo, a 16-year-old, seriously disabled boy whose parents have been deported by ICE agents. Eduardo has been born in the US, so he was left behind. He is housed in a city services home while waiting to be warehoused in a hospital upstate. He is devastated by the loss of his family and the prospect of being institutionalized in a place where his insensitive home aide says, “the smell alone will drive you suicidal.”
One night he has a substitute home aide, Rosa, who is undocumented. She has connections to get her and her teenage daughter, Esperanza, to Canada, but then hears that the shelter they live in has been raided and her ex-husband Ramon, has been arrested. He has all of their money. She leaves Esperanza, in charge of Eduardo and goes out in search of means to get them out of NYC immediately. Esperanza quickly gets bored with being inside, so convinces Eduardo to head outside for his first night on the town. Given how people stare at Eduardo because of his disabilities, he is initially reluctant, but Esperanza is not the type of girl to take “no” for an answer.
A series of adventures begin, as Esperanza and Eduardo tour the East Village—buying hats and dark glasses, getting a beer, racing each other down a crowded Saint Marks’s sidewalk, meeting up with some of Esperanza’s friends and ending with a wild group dance in the park.
All of this fun is intercut with Rosa’s progressively more frantic search to find a way to leave the city. She goes to friends, former employers, even her ex-husband, Ramon, who has been suspiciously released from jail. Nothing works. She discovers Ramon has sold her out to ICE agents. She escapes him only to find a friend, Nelly, spaced out in a LES park, playing with the dirt that her daughter’s school had planted flowers in. Some of this dirt was sent by her family from their land back in Colombia. She reveals that ICE has arrested her young daughter, Alma. The two ladies mourn the ruthlessness of the agents. America is a country that has so much, and all they want is so little.
Meanwhile, Eduardo reveals that his ultimate wish is to be The Godfather (El Padrino). He wants to be the kind of person that when people need something, he gets it for them. Throughout the night he lives up to this goal, solving a variety of problems.
When Esperanza and Eduardo return to the City housing, they find a defeated Rosa. She says she's given up. She advises Esperanza on what to do if they get deported and separated. On cue, the ICE agents show up at their door. Throughout the night, they have been tracking down leads on Rosa. Given his physical limitations, Eduardo is faced with the ultimate challenge: tiny Eduardo has to outmaneuver these two hulking ICE agents who want to arrest his new friends.
The movie is bold and brash. It was shot all over the East Village. A third of it is in Spanish. Half of it was shot on a phone guerrilla-style by distinctive and fearless cinematographer, Delia Flores. The entire project was filmed for under twenty thousand dollars. It is a timely story told with much passion. The production is enriched by the performance of Alejandro Aguilar, Colombian actor from the Netflix series, El Chapo. Out of friendship with Chris, he flew in from Colombia and acted for free. Also out of care for Chris, Cuban pop star singer, Leslie Cartaya offered all of her energetic Latin music for use in the movie—and also did not want any payment (Chris really is that inspiring). The film is written and directed by Terrence Ross a long time, no-budget filmmaker. His recent works include the award-winning web site, Murdered, Intersecting Memoirs about five famous murderers who passed through New York infamous 9th Precinct, as well as his feature documentary, When the Sun Came for Them, which details the sad plight of the Saharawi Nomads in Western Sahara. It won a special jury award for film excellence at the Barcelona International Film Festival.
In spite of its many strengths, El Padrino’s success ultimately rests on the shoulders of Christopher Alvarez, the Little Giant. He is an extraordinary person—and also the most unique protagonist in the history of cinema. On top of that, the guy can act! The movie will be a hit with all progressives as it turns today’s headlines on immigration into a compelling narrative. It will also have a strong appeal for the Latin community, where Christopher already has a strong fan base.
Moreover, for everyone in the disability community, Christopher will be an immediate hero. Although he is severely compromised, the story is not about these issues, but rather about his charm and his successes. The story shows how he does manage to become El Padrino.
We are already in the process of writing the script for El Padrino II. We also believe that this could be spun off into a successful TV series. We are confident the Little Giant will reach great heights of success.
Whoa, what a wonderfully engaging, fun, timely, and musically sensational movie.
Chair of the Department of Anthropology, Adelphi University
Brian T. Wygal
Director of Anthropology, Adelphi University
Well done Terrence, Christopher, and the whole remarkable team! I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and feel like I got to know Christopher a little better as a result.