Stuck between the lines

Boundaries [noun]: a line that marks the limits of an area; a dividing line; a limit of a subject or sphere of activity.


The line between us stands bold and resistant.



These lines represent the enclosure I have built for myself. The ones I set up whenever I’m confronted about things as simple as where I was born or where my parents work. The boundaries I set up are meant to keep myself at most ease; they both limit others from pursuing a conversation I am not ready for and limit myself from sharing too much in a potentially unsafe space. Often, there is this sense of security and safety that comes with not disclosing my identities as an undocumented Latina since I don’t always feel the need nor the want to explain myself or my background to others without getting emotional. Staying between the lines isn’t always the best option, but I’ve found it to often be the safest.



While most of my boundaries are self-imposed, there are systemic boundaries in my life which I often have no control over and  frankly, have limited ability to tear down. Regardless of the ones I don’t have control over, I’ve learned when to lower my boundaries such as through my writing, where it is easier to share my status and it requires no direct confrontation. My writing is a safe space where I have the strength to speak up about my personal lived experiences. I find security in letting down my guard and proving others wrong whenever I surpass a boundary that society has placed on me.


It wasn’t until I was at UCLA that I learned to let my 

guard down and open up about my genuine ideas and morals. I’m grateful that I feel represented in spaces with like-minded people from similar communities to those I belong to where I can simply voice whatever is going through my mind at the moment. 

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel hesitant when sharing views opposite from those my family and church followed. I didn’t feel shame in opening up about my status. I didn’t feel resisticted anymore and learned to believe that it is possible to succeed despite my status and the boundaries placed against undocumented students pursuing higher education. I didn’t feel as if I had to hide this legal boundary when forming relationships because I felt empowered to share my identity rather than hide it. I soon moved on to breaking new generational boundaries by being the first child to move out of the house, despite being unmarried, in order to pursue a college education. I learned to set my own boundaries beginning with my religious and moral beliefs. It felt relieving to finally tiptoe across the bolded lines I refused to previously cross.


Recently, society seems to be moving backwards much faster than it is moving forwards, and I fear that the progress I made in breaking down boundaries for myself will eventually be reversed. The pressure to constantly be an activist for my  community is always followed by the fear of the country’s future during election cycles. I fear that DACA may be rescinded or that I will be placed into an enclosure of fear once again due to the boundaries placed against me that would prevent me from ever reaching citizenship, or even reach the high stakes of fearing deportation once again.



Stepping over the line was not easy to begin with, nor will it be to enclose myself behind them once again, if I have to. I question when I’ll ever have these boundaries lifted for good and hope that I’ll soon be able to cross the line without fear. I think about how much of my life I have published, even if it is very minimal. I think about how anything I have published, or even having applied to DACA, could be traced back to me and negatively affect me in the future, thus reinforcing the systematic boundaries the country impedes me from crossing.


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For now, under the uncertainty of our current administration and election, I stand in this middle ground where I can proceed to share as much as makes me comfortable or recreate boundaries which prevent me from disclosing too much about myself based on the outcome of the election. Ultimately, I am okay with how much I have shared with others thus far, but I know that there are always risks, fears, and doubts that will never truly go away. In the meantime, I stand where I have always been my entire life, conflicted between stepping over the line or enclosing myself between them.

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To view this article in its full designed glory, head over to our Issuu to view our Fall 2020 Boundaries Issue!

Nahla: Representing the Communities Who Have No Voice In Cinema

Nahla photographed by Kristian Punturere

We live in a world where society is predominantly led by men. Men are the majority in many areas of work such as construction, education, law, and engineering. This repetitive pattern has caused women to feel powerless and isolated as their work is often overlooked. As a result, women find themselves internalizing the idea that what they have to offer and who they are will ultimately be shut down. These issues are also present in the film world. There are not many women found behind a camera, and those that are often mention feeling a suppressing wave of criticism. Women in film face the underlying fear that what they want to put on the screen may be judged or seen badly. According to research conducted by Dr. Martha M. Lauzen at San Diego State University, “women comprise 20% of all directors, writers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 100 grossing films in 2019, up to 16% in 2018.” This is how Nahla enters the scene and shines her light and talent from behind the lens. Nahla is a 24-year-old Mexican-American filmmaker originally from San Diego, who at the age of 14 moved to Tijuana. By living in a border town, her identity transformed as she began to identify as a transborder person. She began to cross the border back and forth from Tijuana to San Diego for almost five years in order to get her education. At San Diego City College, she studied documentary film production while also working a full-time job.

From a very young age, Nahla found beauty in the arts. She expressed her creativity through many mediums such as drawing, painting, dancing, acting, stagecraft, and was even part of a mariachi band. As the clock kept ticking and the days went by, she asked herself an important question: What am I going to do with my life? Nahla found it hard to choose only one passion from her many interests. In the end, she figured out that the solution was film. 

Nahla art directing on set of DC the Don taken by Matthew Reyes

With this in mind, during a zoom interview she mentioned “in the society that is the United States, it is common to see that they want to categorize people in boxes when in reality, everyone has their unique path and I am lucky to have found mine.”

Nahla is on her own unique path where she has set her personal goals as to what she wants to accomplish within film. Her main objective as a filmmaker is “to capture the underrepresented voices in cinema.” This vision of hers came little by little. It made its appearance on her first day of class when her professor gave her a camera and told everyone to “tell stories that you know instead of telling the stories from a different point of view that you can’t personally understand.” At first, she didn’t do this; Nahla tried to make her art depict images that were not true to her. It wasn’t until her documentary production class when she began to tell stories that were more personal to herself. To her surprise, being true to herself came with problems. She started noticing that she was not only one of the few women in the room, but that her short films focused on the female perspective and she was showing them to a male-dominated room. Nahla did not let this stop her. She continued to make the films that she wanted to create instead of making films to satisfy male filmmakers. 

Nahla art directing on set of DC the Don taken by Matthew Reyes

Nahla has had the opportunity to work with many talented artists in the Los Angeles area. Among them are Viva la Bonita , Vel the Wonder, and A+ Films to name a few. While working in LA, she noticed that the pattern continued and not a lot of women were behind cameras. The first time she worked with director Alex Cobian, she noticed that besides her there was only one other female on set. When Natalia, the only other woman on the project, was not there, Nahla was the only female on set. The gender imbalance is a topic that, for her, is very present in the set atmosphere. Nahla and her team Guapruns ( @guapruns, GUAPRUNS ) are “striving to represent not only the Chicanx community but females in the industry as a whole.”

As a result, La Ciné Femme was born. During a Zoom interview, Nahla stated that to her, La Ciné Femme is “a community for women and feminists that is pushing towards having as many women as men on set to fill the gender gap.” The name of her project is translated from French as ‘the female filmmaker’. On the bottom of La Ciné Femme´s logo reads “Since 1896”. That year is there to honor the year the female filmmaker Alice Guy-Blachè was born. Alice Guy-Blachè is the first recorded filmmaker to use a close-up shot but unfortunately, history has not acknowledged her innovation. Guy-Blachè lived part of her life in Chile and at the young age of 21 she got involved in cinema. By the year 1910, she had founded her own company, Solax Studios, in the United States.

Nahla’s homage to Alice Guy-Blachè demonstrates her project’s goal to give women in film the proper recognition and a space where they can feel they belong.

La Ciné Femme Logo created by Nahla

Nahla expressed that film is “the most powerful tool to tell a story.” It is the best way to vividly experience by seeing and hearing a narrative and to digest the stories of others. In the near future, she plans to make a film she wrote alongside her team that reflects on border life and what it means to be a transborder person. Besides that, she also has plans to create her own clothing brand for La Ciné Femme. Through this, she will give female filmmakers clothing they can feel comfortable wearing while working on set. Lastly, her plan is to travel to different parts of the world to connect with other filmmakers, to keep making art with others, and to continue her journey of sharing people’s stories that are still waiting to be heard.

If you would like to stay up to date on Nahla’s projects and the work of La Cine Ciné Femme, follow them on social media.



Nahla (@nahlahh_) 

La Ciné-Femme (@la.cine.femme)