“Untold” is the true story of an abduction and homophobic hate crime

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I’m not going to spend too much time discussing the technical shortcomings of Untold. Believe me when I say that there are many: weird canted camera angles, abrupt transitions, stilted line delivery from a few inexperienced actors. Yet, that seems to be par for the course when screening a low-budget independent movie. The low production value of the film doesn’t mean you should pass up the opportunity to see it, right? What really matters is the story that the film attempts to convey, right? Right?

Well, yes and no.

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It’s true that, cinematography and editing aside, the story depicted in the film is an interesting and important one. Before I give a quick summary of the film, I’d like to give a TRIGGER WARNING: The film Untold concerns the stranger abduction and sexual assault of a minor child. Though neither this summary nor the film itself is graphic in nature, the contents of both may be triggering.

Untold is the true story of Gina Garcia who, at eight years old, was taken from a mall in Orlando, Florida in 1981. Two months after, the remains of Adam Walsh, the victim of the infamous child abduction case, was found in a canal, Garcia was lured into a car where she was sodomized. Fortunately, Garcia was able to escape her captor and return to her family. Yet, unfortunately, Garcia’s family was advised by the doctor and detective on her case to never speak to her about her abduction and/or subsequent rape. Thinking that they were protecting her, Garcia’s family denied that anything ever happened to her.

Untold still

Thirty odd years later, proud lesbian and local bike shop owner, Gina Garcia becomes a victim of a hate crime. Her bike shop is broken into and vandalized-the walls covered in homophobic slurs. The trauma of the incident brings the disturbing memories of her childhood abduction to the forefront. Haunted by nightmares, Garcia’s life begins to unravel. She isolates herself from her friends. Her relationship with her girlfriend, Mindy, suffers. Soon she realizes that despite initially trying to run and hide from the truth, she won’t be able to put her life back together until she uncovers exactly what happened to her as a child.

What “Untold’ lacks in polish, it makes up for in surprising cameos. Tammy Lynn Michaels (The L Word, Popular), Dale Raoul (Maxine Fortenberry in True Blood) and lawyer and activist Gloria Allred each have small roles in the film. Some of my favorite moments in the film were between comedian Julie Goldman and Jason London.

Gina Garcia with Gloria Allred
Director Gina Garcia with Gloria Allred
Despite all the positive aspects of the film, I can’t help but wonder if this important story wouldn’t be better told as a short, say 30-minute film or a 60-minute documentary. There were definitely moments when I checked the time because the film felt a little long. Although Terri Ivens (One Life to Live), who plays Gina Garcia in this autobiographical film, has perfected the art of a performing a mental breakdown, I wouldn’t have minded seeing less footage of her crying, yelling, and generally freaking out. i think the Mindy storyline is irrelevant. And, for better or worse, the roughness around the edges did distract me from the overall film. Even with a storyline as interesting as the one in this feature, I found that I did get pulled out of it due to some issue with the pacing or a piece of clunky dialogue.

All in all, I would recommend screening this film if you have the chance.

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