In Gustavo Milan’s short film, Under the Heavens (Seiva Bruta), a young woman, Marta (Samantha Castillo), is walking along an empty Brazilian highway. She just crossed into Brazil as a refugee from Venezuela, and along the way, we discover that she recently had a child. Marta soon finds passage in the back of a pick-up truck where she crosses paths with another refugee couple, Alice (Brenda Moreno) and Jorge (Abilio Torres), with their baby in tow. The baby is crying, and Alice cannot nurse her, so Marta volunteers to do so.
Marta’s single act of compassion sets off a series of events that spotlight the dire situations Venezuelan refugees face trying to escape the tyranny of their homeland. It also examines the prejudice the refugees face in the countries that reluctantly took them in. Adding to the danger, Marta and Alice are forced to protect themselves from men who would take advantage of them in their more vulnerable situations.
“The baby is crying, and Alice cannot nurse her, so Marta volunteers to do so.”
Under the Heavens is one of many stories of Venezuelan refugees whose lives were changed forever and forced to leave the country they love. For Marta, she not only had to leave the life she knew but also her infant daughter.
Milan’s film is simple. There’s not a lot of dialogue. The camera simply follows Marta’s journey, but Under the Heavens reminds us that the word “refugee” is not a term referring to generic people but individuals with unique stories of survival. Writer/director Gustavo Milan successfully uses film to show us the much broader world of Marta and captures the urgency and emotion of her story brilliantly.
"…'refugee' is not a term referring to generic people but individuals with unique stories of survival."