SHINE sheds a light on culture, spirit and honor! – Review

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"SHINE sheds a light on culture, spirit and honor! – Review"

SHINE | © Forgiven Films 2018

Justice vs Just Us

If there’s something cinematic indies provide are projects with heart. Films with style. Films with the touch that truly represent the art of filmmaking. They can press buttons, which in turn, lead to triggered feelings. Dig themselves deep within one’s consciousness and allow for its audience to experience subject-matters often overlooked by Hollywood, who’s too busy working up its next onslaught of CGI, dull plots and mind-numbing character development. To a degree they’re fun to endure, but where a film holds most of its purpose comes from those who are ready to make a passionate mark. Strong, social commentary. Those are the ones that SHINE!

Directed by Anthony Nardolillo, SHINE tells the story of Ralphi Matas (Jorge Burgos) and Junior (Gilbert Saldivar), two Puerto Rican brothers from NYC’s Spanish Harlem. Born and bred in one of the most vibrant hoods in The Big Apple, rhythm is a precursor encoded in their DNA. Growing up exposed to the best of their cultural traits, they become NYC’s best street Salsa dancers. Making a name for themselves, unforeseen tragedy hits and separates them for years. As they reunite and try picking up pieces from the past, the roadblock making it difficult are their strong opposing views on the latest neighborhood dilemma… Gentrification!

For starters, this is a personal tale lived by many across the country. That alone makes SHINE a relatable piece. A cosmic one. It resonates and lives within us. (Me included!) The story ties an emotional knot on gentrification and the effects of family and culture undergoing an unsure future due to affluenza attack. As one of the fastest, funded Kickstarter projects for a Latino film, SHINE is a piece for the community, shot in the community, and even funded by the community. It’s a film that makes you think. As we ride along scene-after-scene with its cast, this gem of a film carries itself with great performances that help elevate the narrative. As the lifeline of the film, each character exposes vulnerabilities and strengths allowing for arcs to appear as the film moves along. 

Purposeful, engaging, informative, educational and powerful, SHINE has a heart that beats for the greater good. It’s designed to throw you off your comfort zone yet generate a magical sense of hope. SHINE has everything and more an indie film could ever want and/or need. While the focal point centers on a Puerto Rican family, the overall scope metaphorically casts a wider net, especially among the Latino community who come in many different spices. A must-see by any means necessary!


Grade: A / Genre: Drama, Family, Dance/Music / Rated: R / Run Time: 1:35

Starring: David Zayas, Gilbert Saldivar, Jadi Collado, Jorge Burgos

Directed by: Anthony Nardolillo

© Forgiven Films 2018