Written and directed by: Armando Ibañez
Assistant Director: Denise Gosdinski-Espinoza
Starring: Giovanni Navarro, Abel Soto, Francisco Avilés Pino, & Fredy Gomez
Produced by: Karla Legaspy & Veronica Paz
Cinematography by: Wil Prada


First loves never fully fade away. 

Before the days of social media, young lovers who had long term relationship goals with their first loves that didn’t work out simply found it in themselves to move on. And though the wounds of that first devastating heartbreak eventually healed over, we’ve all certainly wondered what became of those individuals who played such a pivotal role in our lives. And then Facebook became a thing, we all interconnected, and we all now have an opportunity to cyberstalk the people we once loved, even if just to catch a glimpse of a what-could’ve-been.

Sometimes, we’re the ones left wounded. Other times, we are the ones who did damage. And sometimes, in the process of breaking someone else’s heart, we unwittingly decimated our own. It’s those wounds that are often carved so deeply that the only way to move forward is to eventually accept responsibility for what happened and reach out to ask for forgiveness. Sometimes we get it, sometimes we don’t deserve it. Nonetheless, that first heartbreak never truly fully goes away.

“Hola, Santiago,” the newest offering from veteran undocumented director Armando Ibañez, is an exploration of this theme. “This is a coming-of-age story, and it’s part of a much longer feature that I’ve had written for a while now,” said Armando. “I‘ve done ‘Undocumented Tales’ for years, and I’m now ready to move on to new projects. This story is one that I’m excited to tell.”

The short introduces us to Santiago, a gay man living in the United States, who receives a message from an old flame, which initiates the memory of the first touchpoint that the two young queer men had in their past together. When they first meet, all that they have in common is that they’re attending night school to learn English and that they’ve recently migrated to the United States. But then, we catch glimpses of the depth of their past, and we learn that, despite their not having been in contact for over 20 years and that the trajectory of their lives have panned in vastly different directions, they will always have that moment in ESL class. 

“Hola, Santiago” is an alluring love story that reminds us all that, as much as we begrudge first loves, we also have to acknowledge how they tend to easily transcend time and borders.

Armando Ibañez

is a Latinx queer filmmaker and activist from Acapulco, Guerrero, Mexico. He has been living in the United States for 20 years and lives in Los Angeles, California. His passion for film began at the age of 7 years old while watching Mexican cinema from the 1950s. Currently, Armando is the director and writer of the youtube series “Undocumented Tales,” a story that follows the journey of a Mexican undocumented and queer server living in Los Angeles. Armando is committed to portraying authentic Latinx characters and addressing real issues impacting immigrant communities in the United States.