HCAF 2021 Review: Since You Arrived, My Heart Stopped Belonging To Me

Written by Raúl Mendoza


Throughout my long debate with myself on what exactly I want my first review for the site to be, I kept asking myself what speaks more to me as a person but the various identities I subscribe to? I have watched a lot of incredible cinema this year that I did not ever believe I would get the chance to watch as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. I could offer my thoughts on a film that just came out or one of the many blu rays on my shelf, but what if I did something different? What if I talk about an unsung aspect of cinema because of course all of your favorite directors started off making short films.

I had the privilege to attend the Houston Cinema Arts Festival in Houston, Texas, and every year they have an annual narrative and documentary short film competition revolving around the Latino community and its relation to the border called Borders | No Borders. I was able to watch all of these shorts included in the competition that included some impressive directorial efforts from some of cinema’s upcoming filmmakers. There was one film in particular though that truly captivated me and moved me to tears. Thus, I would like to discuss the incredible documentary short film, Since you arrived, my heart stopped belonging to me.

This film looks at the heartbreaking journey that various Central American mothers go through as they search for their missing sons that depart their country to come to the United States in search of a better life. Of course, this immediately reminded me of my third favorite film of the year, Fernanda Valadez’s Identifying Features. Since you arrived, my heart stopped belonging to me is viscerally raw and holds your face to the screen so you can never look away from the heartbreak that these mothers are going through. The film’s excellence is amplified by its intimate cinematography crafted by excellent choices of tight medium close-ups. It reminded me of another short I watched this year at the Nashville Film Festival, I Am Afraid to Forget Your Face. Hearing the stories and the raw thoughts of these mothers made their words hit even harder. We may not understand what they are going through but the film begs you to listen to these women who feel that they have no choice but to keep longing for the day they see their children again. The subjects are always in focus so your attention is always on the fact that some of these kids have been missing for longer than five years.

Since You Arrived, My Heart Stopped Belonging To Me Short Film

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