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NME REVIEW - All the World is Sleeping

Many think it’s easy - addiction can be a choice of fighting or giving up, especially when you have family and friends who love you. But addiction is a struggle, even when the individual doing the fights wants nothing more than to be there for their kids, their loved ones, or themselves. In All The World is Sleeping, the viewer glimpses into a mother’s addiction while trying to raise her daughter. It also examines the stigma of how society treats addicts.

Written and directed by Ryan Lacen, The movie features Scream VI actor Melissa Barrera as Chama, a young single mother who is determined not to let the mistakes of her mother and childhood fall prey to her. After her addiction has spiraled out of control, leading to an episode that has her daughter taken away, Chama is left to confront the situations that lead her and either fight to win her daughter back or spiral down further into the darkness of her addiction.

The film also stars Jackie Cruz, Jorge Garcia, Kristen Gutoskie, Valentina Herrera, Lisandra Tena and Luis Bordonada. The producers are Anthony Baldino, Charlene Bencomo, Denicia Cadena, Micaela Lara Cadena, Esperanza Dodge, Tannia Esparza, Carly Hicks, Patricia Marez, Sonja Mereu, Myra Salazar, Jade Sanchez, Kat Sanchez, Ian Simon, Kayleigh Smith, Malissa Trujillo, and Doralee Urban. Charlene Bencomo, Executive Director of Bold Futures, shared how the film came to fruition in a January 2022 interview. “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, or pregnancy,” expressed Bencomo. “Through their insight, we decided to tell these stories through the creation of a feature film. The women are 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, to change how substance use and addiction are viewed and treated in New Mexico and beyond.”

Barrera shows a vulnerability needed in the role of Chama. You felt every pain, itch, and frustration she encountered on this voyage. Cruz, known for her work in Orange is the New Black, played the perfect enabler, Toaster, to Chama’s addiction. Toaster was always there to give an excuse, some logic, of why “the escape” is always okay to sink back into. Jorge Garcia did a great job of being the bridge between where Chama is now and how he got to the other side. Ggutoskie was a standout the minute she hit the screen. She provides the shiny beacon of constant hard work and optimism that can still roll back into the darkness that brought her there. The ensemble each did their part to create a beautiful but tragic message - a message Bencomo hope spreads like wildfire.

“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 loved their kids, they would simply stop using,” shared Bencomo. “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.”

In the end, the viewer follows Chama’s journey from desperation to recovery and how we as a society can do more to offer compassion, empathy, and understanding when it comes to addiction and the aftermath of moving forward. All The World is Sleeping is in theaters and on digital platforms now.


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