The grandmother holds her granddaughter’s hands to bring comfort to the distraught girl. Warning lights flash on and off, turning the kitchen and its occupants red.
“Gabriela,” Abuela says gently, in return to the girl’s concerns, “you know how to do all that already.”
“Yes,” Gabriela replies, desperately, as tears well in her eyes, “but I’ll miss doing it with you. You’re my best friend.”
Nick Lopez’s Sunshine Room follows a heart-warming relationship between young Gabriela, who is leaving for college soon, and her Abuela. The two are able to connect through a company called Interface, whose simulation technology makes it possible to spend time with loved ones who have already passed. However, the bliss soon comes to end when Gabriela’s mother reveals their financial struggles and says that they must end their Interface membership. This will erase Abuela for good.
Nova Frontier Film Festival Short Depicts a Simulated Relationship
The sunshine room—a kitchen complete with yellow walls, warm lighting, and flowers on the counter—is where Gabriela and Abuela spend their time together. The room is a part of the simulation: a recreation of Abuela’s kitchen from when she was alive. The room - and Abuela - disappear whenever Gabriela leaves. But while she is there, they laugh, they dance around on the tile floor while making tamales, and they bond over their shared enjoyment of soccer. And though it is just a simulation, that is not apparent at first, considering how real everything appears.
Then, we watch the warmth of Abuela’s kitchen get lost when Gabriela is forced to go back to the home she shares with her mother. There, the lighting is cooler and the conversation between mother and daughter appears more strained. Gabriela does not smile as much and does not appear as happy and carefree as she does with her Abuela.
You too might find that the acting in this film, particularly from Robertha Pacheco Mallmann (Gabriela), adds to the emotional build of the plot. Mallman’s performance as she explains the financial situation to her Abuela, tears welling in her eyes as the warning light turns the kitchen to an uncomforting red, is especially moving. The onscreen relationship feels like a real relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter.
While this film is not ideal for those who don’t like having to read subtitles and would most likely not hold the attention of young children, it is a heartwarming story that many will likely relate to. This film presents the very realistic difficulty of having to let go of a loved one, though through a modern and technologically advanced approach. Those who are keenly interested in technology may also find this film particularly intriguing.
To view the film, visit SUNSHINE ROOM.
Length: 13 minutes
Robertha Pacheco Mallmann - Gabi
Maria Martinez - Maria
Marita De La Torre - Camila
Audrey Flegel - Ava
Frederick Irvin - Vincent
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Zuri Alexander - Interface Announcer (voice)
Paul Dodwell - Background Talent
Jack Duarte - Soccer Commentator (voice)
Matt Hanisch - Background Talent
Katherine Jacobs - Bus Announcer
Maxwell Woehrmann - Background Talent
Director: Nick Lopez
Writer: Tiffany Lin
Images courtesy of Nova Frontier Film Festival
For more information on the Nova Frontier Film Festival where this film was featured visit the Nova Frontier Film Festival website
About the Author: Avery Timmons
Avery Timmons is a student at Columbia College Chicago, currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When she isn’t writing, she can be found working on her photography or playing Mario Kart with her younger siblings.