• Golden Globe Awards

I’m No Longer Here (Mexico/USA)

In the drama I’m No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui), writer and director Fernando Frias delves into the complex arena of human identity and how our cultural surroundings can shape who we can become.
Our protagonist is 17-year-old Ulises (Juan Daniel Garcia Treviño) and his journey in the film begins as he crosses the Mexican/U.S. border to hopefully begin a new life after a misunderstanding has a local gang gunning for him in his native Monterrey. Though he eventually ends up in New York, Queens to be exact, Frias has devised his plot through flashbacks to showcase the two variant lives that Ulises leads; one in his hometown, where he is the charismatic leader of the Terkos, a tightknit dance crew, to New York, where his lack of linguistic skills leaves him an outsider.
Frias utilizes dance, accompanied by the hypnotic rhythms of a specific style of cumbia remix, where the music is slowed down (cumbia rebajada), as the films pulsating through line. In his cocoon of home, Ulises’s skill has made him a local celebrity. The Terkos, part of the Kolombia counterculture movement with their stylized haircuts and bright colorful wardrobe, set themselves apart in the community as they face off against rivals in dance battles around town. No one is more impressive then Ulises, as he employs an energetic, almost explosive technique of gyrations and gravity defying body contortions.
But in New York, the contrast is vast. Here is in anonymous, a nobody who is ridiculed for the same aesthetic that made him fawned over at home. Constantly in transition, he spends his days looking for work and nights, for places to sleep. When he does get a reprieve with a temporary job, his world opens up after encountering Lin (Xueming Angelina Chen), a young Asian girl who seems to understand and accept him. Although neither speaks the other’s language, through a series of hand gestures and broken conversation, they forge a bond.
But don’t be led astray that Frias has turned the tables with a romantic union. Ulises’ struggles to assimilate into multicultural New York is as he navigates the memory of his youthful band of friends. While the film is not overtly political in nature, the underlying themes of social injustice are evident, showcasing how these marginalized young people struggle to claim their identity. Would going home make everything right?
In his lead character of Ulises, Frias has chosen to examine the fragile balance of modern day masculinity against fragility. “We never decided to create a new or more modern version of masculinity,” he shares, “but I was interested in exploring a character who finds his own way of expressing his sensitivity, defying many of the expectations about manhood that remain rampant on both sides of the border. He may not have that many lines but there’s a deep well of emotion he carries with him.”