Born in Southern California to a Puerto Rican father and a Mexican-immigrant mother, Alanna Ubach was drawn to acting by her father’s reaction to foreign films. “It was the one time where I’d see my father truly escape in the most organic way, and by the end of the movie just be enraptured. And I thought, ‘Well, I have to be a part of this, because obviously this is getting his attention.'”
No wonder, then, that for her short list, she chose the theme “Favorite Performances.”
Both of her short list films are from outside the United States, though one is in English. “The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert” is important to her because she remembers how it gave voice to the LGBT community, which had been marginalized in films before its 1994 release.
“I met my best friend in a sandbox when I was three,” says Ubach, “and he would grow up to be gay and loved to dress in my clothing any chance he got. It was very personal the way that movie affected me.”
She was moved by the performances of Terrence Stamp, Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving, “It was so beautiful to see these men,” she says. “In the face of adversity, they still were very dignified and beautiful and remained strong and powerful.”
Her second film, 1998 Italian drama “Life is Beautiful,” features a famous performance by Roberto Benigni as a father trying to protect his young son from the horror of the Holocaust.
“These films show us that when all hope is lost or seems lost, and when you are living a nightmare, there can be a glimmer of light. This also shows that in the midst of war, nothing can break the bonds of family and love and the spirit.”
Of Benigni, she observes, “The actor himself is just what I like to call a warehouse of charm and charisma. And it really did take that kind of energy to sustain the light in such a dark film.”
Ubach’s voice turn as Mama Imelda in the animated hit “Coco” isn’t on her short list, but it’s important to her nonetheless. “It’s almost imperative for adults and children alike to see this film, because it embraces the sophistication of Mexican culture of which few know.
“They present death as a doorway to the next passage, and that it does show that our souls are forever within us and how the abandonment of an innate talent can affect your bloodline and your legacy from generation after generation after generation.”
To watch Alanna Ubach’s “Favorite Performances”– “The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert” and “Life is Beautiful”* – as well as other movies like these, start your Tribeca Shortlist free, seven-day trial here.
*Titles subject to availability