Hold Me Down: A day in the life of a single mother in the Bronx


Shedding light on the conditions of “millions of women in the shadows of mainstream America”

Hold Me Down: A day in the life of a single mother in the Bronx

Norisa Diaz

24 March 2018

Hold Me Down is a 28-minute short film by Swedish director, Niclas Gillis, about a day in the life of a 19-year-old single mother who works as a stripper at an illegal nightclub to support her young child in the South Bronx.

All the roles in Hold Me Down are played by nonprofessionals who have experienced the impoverished underground world portrayed in the film. Based on true events, the movie was shot on location in public housing projects in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the Bronx and an actual brothel. The film premiered at the Gothenburg International Film Festival in January 2017, and this last week was released for free viewing online.

Tanisha (Tanisha Lambright) and Chastity (Tianna Allen)

Only 28 years old, Gillis has produced a work that shines in comparison to most of what appears in movie theaters today. He notes on the film’s website that he set out to “shed light on a life led by millions of women in the shadows of mainstream America.”

The film is most successful in speaking to the universal figure of the struggling mother, and the difficulties of scraping together the basic necessities of life. It is a story that is sadly commonplace and one which seldom sees the light of day in Hollywood, particularly in such a realistic manner.

Hold Me Down centers around Chastity (Tianna Allen), who lives with her mother, sister and young daughter. The film opens with shots of flies landing on the faces of Chastity and her daughter as they sleep. It then cuts to Chastity changing her daughter. Unable to afford the disposable versions, Chastity wraps her daughter in toilet…

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