Animation Adventures

Nona: A Gritty and Raw Portrayal of Human Trafficking

Venezuelan-American filmmaker Michael Polish debuted his latest project in 2019, a film called Nona. The movie is a gripping drama that tells the story of a young girl in Honduras who falls in love with a man who is not what he seems.

Nonas life takes a dramatic turn when she is forced into prostitution to escape the dangerous world she finds herself in. Synopsis:

Nona is a talented young artist living in Honduras, with a close bond to her grandmother.

Her life changes dramatically when she meets Hecho, a charismatic stranger who seems to take an interest in her. Despite her grandmother’s warnings, Nona falls for Hecho’s charm and begins to dream of a life with him.

As Nona and Hecho’s relationship grows, Hecho reveals that he is not who he seems. He is involved in a dangerous world of drug trafficking, and he has plans for Nona that she never imagined.

Hecho must sell Nona to a brothel in Mexico to pay off his debts, leaving her alone and scared in a foreign country. In Mexico, Nona meets a young man named Javier, who works at the brothel and harbors feelings for her.

The two become close, and Nona sees the possibility of a future with him. However, with Hecho still on her trail, Nonas chances of escaping the world she has been forced into look bleak.

The film follows Nona as she navigates the world of human trafficking and prostitution. Despite the harrowing circumstances she finds herself in, Nona never gives up hope.

She clings to her dreams of a better future and the possibility of escape. Themes:

The film explores various themes that are relevant to the current socio-political climate.

The most significant theme is human trafficking and its devastating impact. The movie portrays a detailed, realistic, and sobering experience that young women face every day globally.

Nona showcases the repercussions of human trafficking that tear families apart and leave victims with life-long trauma. Another theme is intimacy and love in the face of hardship.

The bond between Javier and Nona highlights the human connection in even the most adverse circumstances. They provide each other with strength when needed, and their affection and respect are a rare beacon of hope.


In conclusion, Nona is a heart-breaking and powerful work of art that brings attention to the heinous crimes of human trafficking and the suffering of innocent individuals. The film leaves a lasting impression on the viewer’s mind as it highlights the tenacity of the human spirit to overcome all odds truly.

Both the storyline and cinematography showcased in the movie are outstanding and have been appreciated by viewers and critics alike. We are glad that such films are being made to raise awareness about essential social issues.

Nona is a journey through the harsh and realistic world of human trafficking. After falling in love with Hecho, Nona discovers that he is a drug trafficker, engaged in criminal activities and dealing with a dangerous cartel.

Hecho lays out his plan to sell Nona to a Mexican brothel to pay off his debts. The movie then turns into an emotional exploration of the life of a victim of human trafficking in Mexico.

Nona moves through the different stages of pain and suffering, from the optimism and fear of the beginning to the agonizing reality of her situation. She, along with other women who are waiting to be sold in the brothel, goes through degrading physical and psychological abuse.

The movie portrays the harsh reality of the industry, the physical and emotional trauma that the women undergo, and the moral dilemma that the people around them face. Michael Polish carefully depicted the victims’ misery without sensationalizing the issue, making the story feel realistic and compelling to the audience.

The film’s strength comes from its central character, Nona, brilliantly played by Sulem Calderon. Her transformation throughout the story is remarkable, and the audience can feel her emotions and struggles along the way.

The supporting cast’s performances, especially Luis Roberto Guzman as Hecho and Jesy McKinney as Javier, are equally impressive. Nona does not shy away from showing the darker side of humanity; however, it also depicts the power of hope and love.

The relationship between Nona and Javier is a ray of light in a world where brutal exploitation is rampant. Their bond, built on respect and admiration, is the pillar of hope in moments of desperation.

The movie addresses the issue of human trafficking, which is one of the most damaging and ignored problems globally. It dissects how young girls become victims of trafficking and how the criminal networks lure and exploit them.

The harsh reality of the brothel is portrayed with sensitivity, and the characters are crafted realistically. The cinematography of Nona is another aspect that deserves appreciation.

The movie is shot in an intimate way, often focusing on the characters’ expressions, and allows the audience to feel the emotional weight of their struggles. The movie moves at a perfect pace, and the bleak tones of the color palette fill the scenes with dread and helplessness.

The movie’s final third brings unexpected twists, and the audience is kept on the edge of their seats. The climax is intense, and the catharsis that follows is a testament to the human spirit’s resilience and the hope that exists even in the bleakest of situations.

In conclusion, Nona is a raw and devastating exploration of human trafficking, a crime that needs more attention. The movie portrays the atrocities that young women go through in a sensitive yet realistic manner.

The themes of the film are universal, and its execution is flawless. It captures the essence of evil and the strength of hope in equal measures, making it an unmissable masterpiece.

Behind the scenes, the production of Nona involved a dedicated and hardworking crew and cast. Director Michael Polish collaborated with many experienced technicians and artists to bring the story to life.

The movie was filmed using an Arri Alexa camera with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Therefore, viewers were treated to crisp and stunning visuals that accurately captured the environment that the story is set in.

The team used unique lighting techniques that helped capture the mood of different scenesthe blues and grays in darker moments that contrast with the vibrant oranges of the sunsets that occurred in more positive moments. The sound design in Nona was equally impressive.

Sound designer, Nelson Stoll, utilized sound effects to indicate a change in mood. At times, he would build up the tension with background music, making viewers hearts race in anticipation of what was to come.

Additionally, he brilliantly captured the ambience of different locations, giving the audience a sense of place. The costume design team was also noteworthy; Nona’s outfit changed throughout the film, reflecting her different states of mind and the psychological changes she endured.

Her colorful outfits in the beginning and the monochrome palette towards the end indicated her disposition and journey. The costumes of other characters were also exceptional, with each outfit contributing significantly to the individual characters’ personality traits.

The makeup artists were another essential part of the crew, as they had to create and maintain realistic injuries and bruises. Nona’s appearance is particularly important because of the audience’s connection to her character, and the makeup team did an excellent job of making sure she looked battered and bruised when necessary.

Not only was the crew talented, but the cast of Nona also brought their best to each scene. Calderon’s portrayal of Nona showcased her range and ability as an actress, particularly her moments of vulnerability.

Guzman’s Hecho was delightfully menacing, conveying danger and malice without going overboard. McKinney was another standout performance as Javier, giving life to a gentle and caring character who reminded Nona- and the audience- that there was still kindness in the world.

Another aspect of production that should be given credit is the effective editing. The editors did an excellent job of cutting the film from scene to scene, ensuring that the audience could follow the story seamlessly.

Additionally, they added a range of emotive and symbolic shots that helped to convey the emotions and themes being presented in the scenes. The pace of the editing aligned with the storyline, adding weight and significance to particular moments in the movie.

The film’s music composer, Kubilay Uner, also merits applause. He created a soundtrack that perfectly captured the movie’s tone and added more depth to the story.

His score heightened the dramatic impact of the film, increasing emotional resonance and helping to make certain moments more memorable. In conclusion, the production of Nona was impressive.

The talented crew and cast worked together to create a visually stunning and emotionally resonating masterpiece. The use of lighting, sound, costume design, makeup, editing, and music wholly immerse viewers into Nona’s world.

The result is a film that deserves recognition for its engaging and well-executed production. Following a successful premiere at the 34th Santa Barbara International Film Festival in 2019, Nona hit the US theaters in the same year.

However, the movie’s release was limited, and it did not receive a global release, which many thought the film deserved. The limited release meant that some moviegoers missed out, but thankfully, the movie was released on digital platforms, allowing for a broader audience to enjoy the film.

The digital release also provided an ample opportunity for the film to gain wider attention, as the movie could reach people who missed in the theatres. Despite the limited release, Nona received positive reviews from critics, who lauded Michael Polish’s direction and the moving performances of the cast.

Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie an excellent rating of 85%, which is a testament to the movie’s quality. The film’s limited release could be attributed to the movie’s difficult themes, which were not easy to market to a general audience.

However, the digital release helped overcome this issue, allowing for the power of word-of-mouth to play a significant role in the movie’s reception. Viewers who watched Nona on digital platforms praised the movie’s direction, cinematography, and music.

They also spoke highly of Calderon’s performance, whose portrayal of Nona was realistic and heartbreaking. The digital release’s ability to reach a new audience ensured Nona’s message could be heard and appreciated by more, and helped the film reach its intended audience.

Nona’s highlight on human trafficking is also a significant factor that may have contributed to the limited release. Many viewers and even critics tend to shy away from movies with such themes, primarily due to the heavy emotions they carry.

Nevertheless, a production tackling such an issue is imperative to create awareness and resonate with society.

The movie’s release echoes the challenges that small-budget films face in the industry; however, the digital release paved the way for personal films at smaller scales that tend to have powerful messaging and less generic mainstream themes, allowing such productions to be seen by a more significant audience.

In conclusion, Nona’s limited release initially hindered the movie from having a widespread impact. However, the digital release allowed the movie’s themes to be heard and appreciated by a more significant audience.

The positive reception of the movie’s powerful messaging about human trafficking and other challenging themes implies that intense and less commercial movies still have a place in the film industry and resonates with society. The movie’s enduring legacy serves as a reminder of the power of personal and relevant stories, and the importance of shining a light on real-world issues.

Kubilay Uner scored the soundtrack for Nona, and he did an excellent job capturing the film’s devastating and emotional tone. The soundtrack’s blend of songs ranges from Latin to contemporary with several original pieces that strengthen and support the movie’s overall message.

The score’s opening track, “Nona,” immediately drew viewers into the setting with a composition that feels immediate with its use of percussion, brass instruments, and strings. The use of a Latin jazz sound helped transport the audience to the film’s setting and gave the impression that Nona’s story was about to take place.

The use of score throughout the film is what strengthens the movie’s impact. In moments of despair, the music lends itself to the emotion of the scene, often featuring strings to give audiences a sense of urgency and sadness.

In contrast, upbeat tracks bring a sense of hope and endearing charm, which helps to balance emotions in the characters as the plot progresses. The original tracks that Kubilay created for Nona felt emotional without being overblown.

They were somber and fit the film’s tone without being too overwhelming or overshadowing the themes of the story. The track for “Javier” is particular, allowing the audience to grasp Nona’s budding relationship with its soft acoustic guitar melodies.

The soundtrack’s Latin pieces are also noteworthy. They add to the film’s culture and flavor, providing authenticity to the film’s setting and its characters’ lives.

It further strengthens the story by illustrating how complex and nuanced issues like human trafficking affect individuals in less developed countries with different cultural nuances. The song “Puerto Viejo” is particularly evocative.

It conveys a sense of nostalgia and helps audiences empathize and understand the motivations of some characters, such as Hecho, who is trapped in the drug trade and must participate in illegal activities for survival. The acoustic guitar and soundscapes combined allows the audience to see the bigger picture of the character’s world outside of the context of the film.

The soundtrack to Nona is not only noteworthy because of its strength but also its ability to reinforce the film’s themes without being intrusive. It adds to the story and helped develop a sense of place that is not usually found in larger-scale film productions.

It evokes emotion without being exploitative and is as compelling outside of the context of the film as it is in support of it. In conclusion, the soundtrack for Nona is a vital part of the film’s overall message.

Kubilay Uner’s score elevates the emotions of the film, from melancholy to hopeful, and gives the audience a sense of the culture and setting in which the story takes place. The soundtrack balances out the storytelling with subtlety, featuring an eclectic blend of tracks that goes from intense to tender with an overarching commitment to authenticity.

It is a perfect complement to Nona’s already impressive work, which struck a chord with audiences and critics alike. Conclusion:

In conclusion, Nona is an emotionally charged movie that effectively highlights how human trafficking affects women worldwide.

The film’s production, storytelling, performance, and soundtrack make it a relevant and powerful work of art deserving of wide recognition. Overall, Nona is a testament to the power of personal narrative storytelling to raise awareness around critical social issues.


1. What is human trafficking, and why is it so crucial to recognize it as a problem?

Human trafficking is the exploitation of human beings for commercial sex or forced labor. Recognizing it as a problem is crucial to combat it and help victims get the support they need to reclaim their lives.

2. How does Nona address the issue of human trafficking?

Nona explores how one young woman falls victim to human trafficking and the harsh realities of the trade, highlighting how it affects the individual and society. 3.

What distinguishes Nona from other films addressing the issue of human trafficking? Nona elevates the issue by focusing on the emotional and psychological effects that human trafficking has on women.

It is not merely a representation of the physical violence, but a vivid portrayal of the emotional burden of survivors. 4.

What impact does the movie have on the audience? Nona’s impact is profound, leaving a lasting impression on the audience, raising awareness about the issue and inspiring viewers to take action or support organizations fighting against human trafficking.

5. Does the film’s limited release limit its capacity to generate social change?

While the film’s limited release may have hindered its impact, the digital release allowed it to reach a broader audience and continue generating awareness about human trafficking, thus making an impact where it counts. 6.

How does the movie’s soundtrack contribute to the film’s overall quality? Kubilay Uner’s score elevates the film’s emotions, providing support through carefully selected tracks, evoking a sense of place and adding new dimensions to the characters and the story.

Popular Posts