The first documentary from Costa Rica to premiere at Hot Docs, ERNESTO, GRACIAS by Laura Ángel Córdoba is an intimate and poetic family portrait. Córdoba’s film unmasks the stereotypes and misconceptions around autism that have surrounded her family as they fight to create a safe and joyful space for her brother, Ernesto.
The film focuses on Ernesto, Liliana and Laura – the family has been trying to fully understand autism for over 20 years. Navigating a medical system full of misinformation around treatments for autism, the famly faces a looming eviction that threatens to destabilize them and Ernesto’s safety.
Laura portrays her brother and the dilemmas her mother, Liliana, goes through as a single mother caught up in the struggles of daily life and the hope of an already delayed institutional response. In the process, Laura faces her own taboos and fears about autism.
An deeply personal film, ERNESTO, GRACIAS is not only a film about autism. It is a film about family dynamics, motherhood, and perseverance. The film presents a very universal story, where quite often women take on the responsibility of caring for people with special needs, rasing children, and caring for the elderly.
The mix of visuals with little dialogue bring us emotionally closer to Liliana, Ernesto, Laura and their family. The film creates a space for us to ask ourselves some deep questions through Laura’s own introspective journey. Through personal anecdotes and glimpses of everyday life, Laura brings us a deeply reflective film that I think will create conversations among various audiences.
ERNESTO, GRACIAS screens one more time at Hot Docs on Sunday, May 8 at 11:45am EST.
Below is my conversation with the film’s director Laura Ángel Córdoba in Spanish (Castellano). Espero puedan ver este documental en el festival Hot Docs este fin de semana en Toronto.