‘Ayar,’ the Cinematic Portrayal of a Nervous Breakdown During the COVID Pandemic

Ayar film BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of SXSW.

We knew that a global crisis like the COVID pandemic would provide enough fodder for countless books, movies, and stories. But we never thought anyone would portray the anguish of confinement as director Floyd Russ has achieved in “Ayar.”

A cinematic portrait of the psychological impact of the pandemic, the thriller follows the story of Ayar (Ariana Ron Pedrique), a first-generation American Latina who returns home from her show business career in Las Vegas in the midst of the shutdown to reunite with her five-year-old daughter. But when her mother Renata (Vilma Vega) refuses to let her see her because of the pandemic, Ayar is haunted by the many roles she has been forced to play, as an immigrant, dreamer, mother, and actress in this very film.

Flashbacks to her past lives are superimposed on a lockdown in a seedy motel, with walls and ceilings progressively filling with vines, a brilliant metaphor from the director to the spread of the COVID virus.

As Deadline explained, the story is partially based on Vega’s life experiences as a Peruvian immigrant who came to the U.S. as a teenager and became pregnant shortly thereafter.

Ayar had its world premiere earlier this year at SXSW and has also screened at several festivals around the world, including the Sao Paulo International Film Festival, the North Bend Film Festival and the Nashville International Film Festival.