Nuyorican-themed “Babygirl” flick makes Tribeca Film Festival debut

"Babygirl" is the story of how a young girl deals with an unconventional love triangle. (Photos courtesy Murphy PR)

The 28th Annual  Tribeca Film Festival begins tonight and this year more than 35 countries will be represented in the spring festival founded by Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro and Craig Hatkoff. Among festival’s slate of 90 films across a variety of subjects and languages is Nuyorican-themed flick “Babygirl,” which will make its world premiere tomorrow night.

Set in the Bronx, “Babygirl” stars Yainis Ynoa, Rosa Arrendono and Flaco Navaja in a riveting tale about an unconventional love triangle between a mother, her predatory new boyfriend and her young teen daughter.  Sixteen-year-old Ynoa plays lead character Lena, who from birth has watched her mother chase a cycle of undeserving, deadbeat men. When Victor, her mother’s latest love preys on Lena, Lena decides to expose her mother to the truth about former prison convict.

“I wrote the script inspired by a real life incident I saw on a Bronx-bound train heading home – a mother’s boyfriend hitting on the young daughter,” says director Macdara Vallely. “The film was a way to recreate that moment and filming it in the Bronx allowed me recreate the energy of the Bronx in a way that would allow the audience to immerse themselves in that world. More than anything, I wanted to be authentic to that slice-of-life moment.”

Puerto Rican actor Flaco Navaja plays predatory boyfriend Victor in “Babygirl.”

Real-life high school senior Yainis Ynoa is thrilled to play lead character Lena in her first feature film debut. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she’s wanted to be an actress “as long as I can remember.” “Babygirl” she says, offers an emotional story that she relates to.

“Growing up in a single parent home, I’ve always felt really protective of my family,” says the 17-year-old. “I understand Lena’s love of her mother and I love that this film allowed me to portray how far your love of family can take you.”

Co-star Flaco Navaja agrees. “On an artistic level, this film challenges everything you might think about life and family,” says the actor, spoken word poet and singer. Navaja plays Victor, the predatory boyfriend who plays up his sexuality to both Lena and her mother. “It’s a beautiful film the entire family can watch that portrays how family is one of the most important priorities in life.

“It speaks the vernacular of the Bronx, of love, life and a story that’s important to tell.”

Next up in our Tribeca Film Festival Coverage: an interview with Brenna Sanchez, co-director of the buzzed-about film, “Burn.”

NINA TERRERO, NBC LATINO STAFF   

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