Hidden Away
A Escondidas

DIRECTOR: Mikel Rueda

U.S. Premiere

A cross-cultural friendship turns into something much more profound in Spanish director Mikel Rueda’s subtle and compassionate new film. When the two protagonists cross paths in the gritty backstreets of Bilbao, Spanish teen Rafa is drifting away from his friends and their obsessions with girls and soccer, and handsome Moroccan immigrant Ibra (short for Ibrahim) lives in a community center for undocumented minors, “hidden away” from society at large. Director Rueda uses the notion of hiding in other ways as well: Rafa and Ibra sublimate their burgeoning attraction and homoerotic interest into wrestling, water polo, and food fights, and the non-linear structure of the film presents certain key events early on, then hides them away, and then circles back later. As the story progresses, its suspenseful and wrenching social justice component becomes increasingly urgent. Ibra finds himself in danger of deportation and on the run from local cops, and Rafa does his best to help him seek shelter.

With its portrait of misunderstood youth and obscured sexual longing, the film resembles a modern-day Rebel Without a Cause. Adil Koukouh’s Ibra gives James Dean a run for his money as a sensitive soul with a necessarily hard shell, and Germán Alcarazu as Rafa effectively conveys how it feels to be inexorably drawn toward someone out of one’s usual sphere of reference. Watching these two teens find their way amid fraught societal circumstances provides a stirring depiction of clandestine first love.

— Rod Armstrong

In Spanish with English subtitles.

AT&T Audience Award Text Voting Code: F115

Co-presented by:

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