Desire Street (film)

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Desire Street
Desire Street Poster (dir. Roberto F. Canuto & Xu Xiaoxi).jpg
Desire Street Poster
Directed by Roberto F. Canuto
Xu Xiaoxi
Produced by Andrew Ahn
Written by Roberto F. Canuto
Xu Xiaoxi
Starring Alexandra Smothers
Alejandra Walker
Ellen Clifford
Javier Lopez
Kjord Davis
Jesus Guevara
Manuel Domenech
Roman Marshanski
Charles Wells
Music by Andrea Centazzo
Cinematography Roberto F. Canuto
Xu Xiaoxi
Edited by Roberto F. Canuto
Xu Xiaoxi
Almost Red Productions
Release date
  • June 14, 2011 (2011-06-14) (Mix Mexico International Film Festival)
Running time
82 minutes
Country Spain
United States
Language English

Desire Street, also known as La Calle Del Deseo or Calle Deseo, is a 2011 Spanish, Chinese, and U.S. co-production drama film, written and directed by Roberto F. Canuto and Xu Xiaoxi. Headed by actress Alexandra Smothers, the film features an ensemble cast also starring Alejandra Walker, Ellen Clifford, Javier Lopez, Kjord Davis, and Jesus Guevara. Revolving around an eccentric and dysfunctional Mexican immigrant family living in Los Angeles, California, the film is divided into three parts, each one with a story reflecting a family member (mother Carmen, daughter Bess and son Andrea) and the relationship that they establish with a new neighbor, a prostitute (Lucy Bell).[1]


The story follows a Mexican immigrant family’s life in the United States following a tragic accident. The family’s matriarch, Carmen (Alejandra Walker), is a widowed single mother of two, who wants to “fix” her teenage son’s “confusion” about his sexuality, and seeks solace through her religious beliefs. Her daughter Bess (Ellen Clifford), a curious but sheltered young girl who hides from the world by the clothes she wears and by her behavior, so the world sees her as odd and unusual. And Andrea (Javier Lopez), her teenage son, whose emerging sexuality is of concern to his mother and her religious beliefs, and then he falls for a streetwise man whom he sees as his way to escape to freedom. Each of the family members is coping with a family altering accident in their own way. As they endure their loneliness and the turmoil of maturing, each encounters unique experiences and a lasting special relationship with their ostentatious and passionate new neighbor, Lucy Bell (Alexandra Smothers), a companion for hire.


  • Alexandra Smothers as Lucy Bell
  • Alejandra Walker as Carmen
  • Ellen Clifford as Bess
  • Javier Lopez as Andrea
  • Kjord Davis as Johnny Black
  • Jesus Guevara as Antonio
  • Manuel Domenech (Tyler Vincent) as Kevin
  • Roman Marshanski as Sasha
  • Charles Wells as Priest / Mr. Smith
  • Gavin Fonseca as Mike
  • Sassoun Hagopian as DVD Shop Attendant
  • Kay Hand as Homeless / Woman in the Lobby
  • Yuka Ozaki as Asian Woman in Lobby
  • Kurt Morningstar as Danny


The district of Koreatown, Los Angeles serves as a backdrop for the story.

The film was initially conceived as the directors' thesis film as part of their MFA degree at the New York Film Academy (NYFA) at Universal Studios in Hollywood. After the directors' graduation, the film was re-edited and the post-production was completed.[2]

Scene from Desire Street with Alexandra Smothers and Alejandra Walker.

Desire Street was filmed on Super 16mm film and principal photography lasted three and half weeks, taking place in August 2009, with temperatures reaching 110 °F (43 °C) and higher.[3]

The directors' intentions behind Desire Street were to explore the elements of sex and desire as the main themes of the film. They tried to create characters that, under different circumstances, either repress these instincts (due to influences from the society, personal tragedies, etc.) or use it freely as the hooker does in the film.[4]

Canuto and Xu take as a reference the Mexican melodramas of the 1960s. They exaggerate the representation of the characters to accentuate the irony that is a basic element in the story, creating many situations of comedy. At the end of the story the family became the main reference for the individual survival.

Desire Street has "a unique perspective, exploring social aspects and family issues with a melodramatic, but at times humoristic tone. This is conveyed with very bold and colorful characters and a dynamic narration. The message that the directors wish to bring to the film and its audience is a respect for others irrespective of their sexuality, race, or profession. Also the film highlights the importance of family support for any teenagers who are struggling with their sexuality and differences to the stereotypes that the society creates ".[5] The film touches themes like immigration, prostitution, homosexuality, lesbianism or bulling at a young age, themes that can be seen as controversial by the approach taken in the movie.

Image from Desire Street with Ellen Clifford.


The film was well received in the film festivals where it was screened, including some awards. At the premiere in Mix Mexico International Film Festival 2011, Desire Street received a "Special Mention for Best Feature Film".[6] The jury mention at the ceremony that the award was deserved due to "a very well structured script, strong story and great characters".[7][8] In 2014 the film received two nominations and the award for Best Feature Film at the Asturian Film Festival (Festival De Cine Asturianu) 2014 [9] in a ceremony celebrated at the Ateneo of Madrid.[10] The jury highlight that Desire Street "develop, with technical mastery and a good treatment of the script, the generation gap and the family and sexual conflicts in a multiethnic society".[11]

Desire Street critics reviews where also positive, highlighting the structure of the script and some film techniques, together with the actors performances:

∗ "...these characters could be from an Almodovar movie as they seem to need to behave in extraordinary ways in order to draw some sexual, psychological advantage...The use of subjective camera movement, composition and mirrored reflections are effective in conveying a real sense of false perceptions since the seeing is not real. Coupled with this is the technique of revisiting of previously seen scenes, but from a different perspective per time. This subversive type of shooting is not new to cinematography, but it is used to great effect in this application...The collaborations of Roberto Canuto and Xu Xiaoxi make them the future wave as these two engaging directors bring together fresh insight with redesigned camera work." [12] from Dickie King at MTG, 2011 (South Africa).

Scene from Desire Street with Kjord Davis and Javier Lopez.

The premiere of Desire Street in Spain took place at the 9th Asturian Film Festival in June 2014, at a ceremony in Madrid at the historical Ateneo building. The film was awarded Best Film and one the lead actresses, Alejandra Walker, received a nomination for her performing work.

The Chinese premier took place in August 2014 at the Contemporary Art Museum A4 in Chengdu (Sichuan), one of the most prestigious museums in China. It was part the exhibition ID/EGO, dedicated to the filmmakers, that include also a showcase of pictures and objects used during their shootings, and the presentation in China of their latest short film Ni Jing: Thou Shalt Not Steal (2013). Due to the very positive reactions and the good turnout in all the projections, the exhibition was extended for further weeks.[13]

As of August 2014, the producers are in talks to sell distribution rights worldwide.


(Awards won are in bold)
  • Best Feature Film, 9u Festival de Cine Asturianu (Spain), 2014[14]
  • Best Lead Actress - Alejandra Walker (Nomination), 9u Festival de Cine Asturianu (Spain), 2014[15]
  • Best Feature Film (Nomination), LesgaycinePTY, Panama International Film Festival, 2012
  • Best Feature Film - Special Mention, Mix Mexico International Film Festival (Mexico), 2011 [16]


  1. ^ "Desire Street (2010)". Rottentomatoes. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  2. ^ "Roberto F. Canuto, Director De Cine Y Guionista (Interview & video)". El Rollo Higienico. Redacción. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Roberto F. Canuto, Director De Cine Y Guionista (Interview)". El Rollo Higiénico. Redacción. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "Roberto F. Canuto, Director de Cine Y Guionista (Video Interview)". El Rollo Higienico. Redacción. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  5. ^ "Desire Street". Serile Filmului Gai Festival. 2011. 
  6. ^ Ariel, Alan (May 27, 2011). ""Desire Street" awarded in "Mix Mexico"". Universogay (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  7. ^ "'Desire Street', del gijonés Roberto F. Canuto, mención al Mejor Largometraje Internacional en el Mix México". Europa Press. Europa Press. 26 May 2011. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "'Desire Street' awarded special mention best film... (in Spanish)" (in Spanish). May 26, 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  9. ^ Lorenzo, Claudia (July 7, 2014). "Deli and Desire Street winners in Asturian Film Festival (in Spanish)". (in Spanish). "La Nueva España" Newspaper. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 
  10. ^ ""Deil" y "Desire Street" vencen en el Festival de Cine Asturianu" (July 7, 2014). La Nueva España & La Nueva España. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "Palmares del 9 Festival de cine Asturianu 2014". (in Spanish). June 15, 2014. Archived from the original on 6 August 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014. trata con gran maestría técnica y con un buen tratamiento del guion sobre el choque generacional y los conflictos sexuales y familiares de una sociedad multiétnica. 
  12. ^ King, Dickie (January 2011). "Desire Street (Review)". MTG. Archived from the original on 2010-09-14. Retrieved 3 August 2014. 
  13. ^ Ariel, Alan (August 11, 2014). "Roberto F. Canuto successful in China with his work (translated)". Universogay (in Spanish). Retrieved 14 August 2014. La inauguración ha tenido reacciones muy positivas y una gran afluencia de público, ya que ha llenado las salas durante todo el fin de semana, por lo que la exhibición ya se ha prorrogado 
  14. ^
  15. ^ "9u Festival de Cine Asturianu". Festival Cine Asturianu Blogspot. Festival Cine Asturianu. Retrieved 29 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "Winners of the Festival Mix (in Spanish)". (in Spanish). May 26, 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2014. 

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