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January 2022 - LET US ENTERTAIN YOU: All The World is Sleeping

A lot of movies have been filmed in New Mexico, but few capture and humanize the real world for many individuals like the film All The World Is Sleeping (ATWIS), directed by Ryan Lacen and starring Melissa Barrera. Barrera plays the role of a mother that struggles to overcome addiction while fighting to be a parent to her daughter. ATWIS will be screened at the Las Cruces International Film Festival in March 2022. Charlene Bencomo, Executive Director of Bold Futures NM, the non-profit organization that produced ATWIS, sat down with New Mexico Entertainment to talk about the making of the film.

What influences or real life stories were the inspiration behind the origin of the film?

Bold Futures has promoted culture shifts through art, media, and messaging through our organizing model, Art and Organizing Institute. Through this model, in 2017, we brought together seven women who had experiences with substance use, parenting and/or pregnancy. Through their insight, we decided to tell these stories through the creation of a feature film. The women were empowered to share their struggles and joys. Each woman is a composite created from the stories shared with us. They’re more than inspirational to this project, which is set to change the way substance use and addiction are viewed and treated in the state of New Mexico and beyond.

Where was ATWIS filmed, and how were the locations chosen?

All the World is Sleeping was filmed almost in its entirety in Las Cruces. Some scenes were filmed in Albuquerque to help capture the essence of where the story is taking place and to give the audience some reference points. Filming locations were chosen based on their ability to capture the emotions of the characters, and their ability to give the audience a sense of the New Mexico many of those who created this film call home.

ATWIS has won several awards in the last year, both at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival and New York Latino Film Festival. How are those experiences inspiring your team to build momentum for the film?

Yes! We also picked up honorable mentions at both the Ojai and Seattle Latino festivals. The fact that this little film is being received in such a huge way has meant everything to our team. From its inception, we knew ATWIS needed to be powerful and authentic in reaching audiences with this story that affects so many. The awards feel like a validation of our work and efforts as women and people of color, but, more importantly, validation that substance use and parenting is a topic that needs more consideration, discussion, and the implementation of systems of support that are accessible to all people. Being recognized by communities outside of our own is so powerful, we are humbled and grateful.

You’re screening at the 2022 Las Cruces International Film Festival. Is there a special connection to the city?

Screening at LCIFF is when we truly bring this film home. While the narrative is set in Albuquerque, the filming took place in Las Cruces. The majority of extras were unpaid volunteers who believed in the message. We were welcomed by so many businesses and set locations with open arms in true New Mexican hospitality. We are ready to celebrate what we accomplished together. This film would not have been possible without the support of the Las Cruces community!

What do you hope viewers will be able to see, absorb, understand, and empathize with when watching the film?

Women struggling with substance use and addiction have been shamed by messages insinuating that they must love their drugs more than their kids, or if they really loved their kids, they would simply stop using. We understand substance use and addiction are healthcare issues. Many women are survivors of multi-generational trauma, displacement, poverty, and abuse. We hope this film encourages others to see beyond the stigma, increase their compassion, and engage in deep conversations about the complexities surrounding cycles of substance use. We also hope this film encourages conversations that lead to systemic change and positive support for families in cycles of substance use.

Author: Cheryl Lowe

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