Los Angeles, California | Film Short


Bloodgood Adam

2 Campaigns | California, United States

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This campaign raised $13,245 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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A USC MFA thesis film, NENA is an emotionally charged drama that explores the complexities of family, queerness, motherhood, and the Cuban immigrant experience in 1995 Miami: What does survival and the American dream look like for a young, queer mother, and her American-born child?

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

Inspired by my mother’s story, NENA aims to show a nuanced portrayal of Cuban immigrant life in Miami through the lens of a queer, single mother as she struggles with individual versus cultural expectations, and the resilience in starting over not once, but twice, in a new country.

The Story


NENA follows Lilia, a young Cuban woman as she takes the first step towards what she believes to be a better future for her 5-year-old daughter, Yara, who is about to start school: Breaking away from living a constrictive, financially bleak life with her traditional mother and brother, and building a new, promising family with her first-ever girlfriend. 

The film opens with Lilia's arrival at her mother’s house, ready to pick up Yara and complete their move to their new home at her girlfriend, Ade’s, apartment. However, tensions arise as Lilia confronts her strained relationship with her family, particularly their opposing views on what is best for Yara and the family as a whole. Lilia’s brother, Orlandito, is resentful of Lilia’s decision to leave, deeming it selfish and a devastating blow to their finances. Lilia's mother, Mercedes, also plays a pivotal role in the story as she grapples with Lilia's decision to leave, which she views as a deep betrayal.

As Lilia and Yara settle into their new life, the film explores their mother-daughter dynamic, their challenges in adjusting to a new environment, and Yara's longing for the familiarity of their old home, symbolized by a cherished rock she brought with her. Lilia's relationship with her girlfriend, Ade, adds another layer of complexity to the narrative, as she navigates the delicate balance between her past and her future.

NENA is a poignant tale of resilience, sacrifice, and the enduring bond between a mother and her child. It delves into themes of cultural identity, belonging, and the pursuit of a better life, all set against the backdrop of a Miami that is as diverse and vibrant as the characters themselves. As Lilia and Yara face the challenges of their new life together, they discover the strength to overcome obstacles and find hope in the promise of a brighter future.


I was born in Miami, Florida into a small Cuban immigrant family consisting of my grandparents, mother, and uncle. We lived in a one-bedroom duplex, where I shared a bed with my grandmother and mother. My mom would always nod around the room and say, “This isn’t a life worth living.” Shortly before my fifth birthday, my mother made a decision that my family never forgave her for: She moved out and into her new girlfriend’s apartment, taking me with her.

A fictionalized retelling of these events, NENA is my mother’s story of setting out on a new future as a recent arrival and a young mother in a Miami that was struggling to provide for its fast-growing Cuban immigrant population, a risk made greater by her assertion of her queer identity. Everyone has their own way of getting by, and of what they think is best and what they think is wrong: And no one is completely right, nor are they completely wrong. That’s why it’s also important for this film to show the daily life of Cuban immigrants in Miami society from that time, from Lilia’s clashes with her family, to exploring new ground with her girlfriend as they create their own future together, in order to show small glimpses into the lives of the people who breathed and inhabited Miami’s new Cuban underclass.

Underrepresented communities struggle with what parts are worth showing, what conversations are worth having, what futures are worth pursuing. If my mother were to see herself in the media surrounding her during that time, would it have helped her to feel more empowered in her decisions? Less alone in making those leaps? Questions like these drive our team of talented USC MFA student filmmakers to create art that legitimizes and empowers those who suffer from not seeing themselves and their stories on the screens around them, and to establish space to discuss the harsh truths they grapple with.


Authenticity and realism are paramount in the portrayal of these characters, their circumstances, and this world. The story will be shot in a 4:3, square-like ratio and emulate a film look to ground us in the 1990s era. With an emphasis on natural lighting and camera movement more in line with documentary-style filmmaking, NENA draws its visual inspiration from films such as Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station, Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland, and Sean Baker’s Red Rocket.


NENA is a poignant tale of resilience, sacrifice, and the enduring bond between a mother and her child. It delves into themes of cultural identity, belonging, and the pursuit of a better life, all set against the backdrop of a Miami that is as diverse and vibrant as the characters themselves. As Lilia and Yara face the challenges of their new life together, they discover the strength to overcome obstacles and find hope in the promise of a brighter future.



Pre-production: Right Now!

Production: December 2023

Post-production: Spring 2024

Premiere & Film Festival Circuit: Coming 2024

Our team sincerely thanks you for taking the time to visit this page and support our project. Your help is crucial in turning this heartfelt story into a reality. Please follow and share this page, as well as our Instagram (@nena_ashortfilm) to track our journey!


Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Hard Drives

Costs $360

Multiple hard drives are a must to store and backup the footage of the powerful performances we'll capture on set.

Sound Equipment

Costs $700

A film is nothing if you can't hear its story. Professional mics and recorders will help capture the sounds and conversations of NENA.

Food for the Team

Costs $2,500

Bringing Lilia's story to life will require our crew of student filmmakers to work long and intensive hours, and good, healthy food is key!

Cash Pledge

Costs $0


Costs $4,500

Our story takes place in 1995 in Miami. Filming locations that have this look are crucial for the visual authenticity of this film.

Makeup and Hairdressing

Costs $940

Traveling back in time will require the skills of experienced makeup artists and hairdressers. Their work will bring the characters to life.

Production Design

Costs $2,000

Bringing back the 90s will require the purchasing of various production design elements that will breathe life into our film.


Costs $1,000

Although some of the trends are coming back, dressing our characters authentic to 1995 will take the work of a skilled costume designer.

Original Score

Costs $500

Having an original score would bring a level of sonic uniqueness to NENA and elevate the emotional nuances of the story.

Vintage Camera Lenses & Camera

Costs $3,500

The aesthetic of vintage lenses will allow us to take you on a journey back in time.

About This Team

Joyzel Acevedo | Writer/Director

Born to a small Cuban family in Miami, Joyzel is an award-winning filmmaker who tells Latino-American stories about women, family, and the constant push-and-pull of cultural versus societal expectations. With her prior experience as a news producer and documentary director, she aims to capture the raw essence of the human experience within the rich tapestry of Latino immigrant life. She is currently a George Lucas Fellow at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts MFA program.

NENA is her thesis film. It is inspired by her mother’s experiences of moving out of the home she shared with her parents and brother to be with her girlfriend, taking a 4-year-old Joyzel with her, and how she dealt with the familial and emotional repercussions.

Søren Anderson | Producer

Søren Anderson is a Portland native turned Los Angeles transplant, and self-proclaimed “huge nerd”. Most of his career has focused largely on the intersection of storytelling and technology, and leveraging technology to tell stories previously thought to be impossible. He currently attends USC’s Film & Television Production program as a Master’s student in his final year with a focus on producing and writing. Søren most recently produced a USC capstone project and psychological horror titled The Visit (2023).  When not diving into scripts and drafting coverage, he enjoys creating small video games, cooking, and indulging in manga marathons.

Adam Bloodgood | Producer

Adam is a producer/director and choreographer. Originally from Seattle, he has spent the past twelve years working as a professional ballet dancer, most recently as a principal dancer at Ballet Fantastique. In addition to writing and directing his films, Adam was an associate producer on the Northwest Emmy®-nominated film American Christmas Carol: A Ballet Movie (2020), a first assistant director for Trenches of Rock (2019), a feature-length documentary that premiered at Atlanta Film Festival, and a producer for The Act of Crying (2023), a USC MFA thesis film. Adam is pursuing a B.F.A. in film and television production at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts.

Joshua Nicolás Prits | Producer

Joshua Nicolás Prits is a Peruvian-American writer/producer originally hailing from Maryland. An alumnus of Pepperdine University, Joshua has pursued a career in filmmaking that highlights intercultural nuances and underrepresented voices. As a member of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, he seeks to promote Latine stories and reshape the narrative of Latine filmmakers in the United States. Some of his productions include the thriller short “Heretic” (2021) and the upcoming drama short “Rated Art” (2024). Joshua cites Italian neo-realism, poetry, and his various global pilgrimages as key sources to his artistic heart.

Fox Piantoni | Cinematographer

Elisabetta Fox Piantoni is an Italian cinematographer based in LA. After working as an outdoor freelance photographer for two years and traveling to almost 50 countries, whilst also showcasing her work in exhibitions around the world and winning international awards, she decided to focus on the film industry and earned her MFA at the University of Southern California.

She strives to make a visual and social impact with her images, narrating stories that can not only entertain but also ignite discussions and change.

Current Team