Zaira decided she wanted to dedicate her film to her mother, who is a cancer survivor. Dear Bella is not only a passion project but also an expressive attempt of love and forgiveness.

Zaira and Mom celebrating birthday.

Due to Zaira’s deep-rooted cultural Mexican background and her parents’ attempt to preserve her innocence, she was shielded from the knowledge of her mother’s cancer at a young age. Despite not being able to understand the separation, she became pen pals with her mother, only to see each other in tiny spurts. Due to the fact that no one ever spoke to her about her mother’s illness, she began to think cancer was something to be ashamed of. She never spoke to anyone about it, until today.

It wasn’t until she got older she understood her parents’ reasons. The film became the bridge of healing her from her childhood trauma and a visual representation of love and forgiveness towards her parents. Zaira wanted to share something personal because she felt that many people can relate and perhaps heal from her story. She wanted to highlight the lack of representation of mother-daughter relationships in cinema and be a voice for the many children and families affected by cancer. She wanted to tell her story through the eyes of an innocent child and how such trauma can affect a child’s life, as it did with hers.

Zaira and Mom today.

She hopes that her story can not only open up conversations within families and friends but also tackle some taboos surrounding cancer.