AT THE GATES
Ana (Vanessa Benavente), a housekeeper from El Salvador, brings her teenage son Nico (Ezekiel Pacheco) to help her clean an affluent family’s Los Angeles home. But after someone rings the front gate, her employers, Marianne (Miranda Otto) and Peter Barris (Noah Wyle), inform them that immigration officers are searching for them and convince the pair to hide in a basement closet, demanding they hand over their cell phones as a safety precaution. As days go by under the same roof, each family begins to question the other’s true intentions in this riveting and emotional thriller from first-time feature director Augustus Meleo Bernstein.
"I began to write a script that read like the set-up for a horror film, but the source of dread wasn’t a slasher or a supernatural force, it was a cruel and dangerous government policy."
A Salvadoran housekeeper and her teenage son begin to question whether they’re being protected or imprisoned after an affluent couple offers to hide them from immigration officers in At the Gates. An ambitious and unsettling drama from first-time feature writer and director Augustus Meleo Bernstein, the film challenges assumptions about class and cultural divides in America.
Ana Ibarra (Vanessa Benavente), a housekeeper from El Salvador, has been working for the Barris family for eight months when she first brings her teenage son Nico (Ezekiel Pacheco) to help her. Told by the Barrises that their family’s home has been visited by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents looking for the mother and son during a sweeping crackdown, the pair is grateful when Marianne (Miranda Otto) offers to let them stay in the house until the situation can be sorted out. Her attorney husband Peter (Noah Wyle) appears reluctant to have Ana and Nico stay and imposes a series of strict conditions: Don’t leave the house, don’t stand near windows, turn over all cell phones, stay out of his office and spend nights hidden away in a locked storage space in the basement.
After several days without further visits from ICE, Nico begins to bristle under the restrictions. Breaking the rules and wandering through the house at night, he surprises the Barrises’ teenage daughter Lauren (Sadie Stanley), who has her own misgivings about the Ibarras’ presence.
As time goes by and tensions mount, each family begins to question the other’s motivations in this riveting and emotional thriller.
AUGUSTUS MELEO BERNSTEIN (Director, Writer, Producer) is a writer, director and producer from Los Angeles. He has an M.F.A. in directing from the American Film Institute. Before earning his masters, Bernstein graduated with a degree in cinema studies from the University of Pennsylvania. At the Gates is his directorial feature film debut.
JHANVI MOTLA (Producer) is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker who works at Five Towers as a producer, where she manages projects ranging from music videos and commercials to branded content. Motla is keen to be a part of projects that tell the stories of people on the fringes of society. Her most recent short film, Black Boy Joy, starring Evan Alex and William Catlett, was licensed by HBO Max and won the 2020 NAACP Image Award for best short film. In addition to her producing work at Five Towers, Motla is working with Kilo Films to develop a documentary based on a personal story that she will write and direct.
Motla was born and raised in Mumbai, India. She is an alumnus of the AFI Conservatory’s producing program as well as Film Independent’s artist development initiative, Project Involve.
PAULO TORRES (Producer) is the founder and CEO of Five Towers, a full-service production company based in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles. Five Towers creates artist-driven content across all platforms. They have worked with exceptional global talent to produce movies, music videos and commercials.
ALAN TORRES (Director of Photography) is a Los Angeles-based cinematographer best known for lensing the award-winning indie Same Difference, as well as a number of short films and music videos.
Torres’ artistic interests focus on story-driven cinematography that enhances what is already on the page. His work has been featured on Hulu, Netflix, Channel 4 and BET+. Torres most recently shot additional photography for the feature Skater Girl, the story of a teen in rural India whose life is changed when she discovers a passion for skateboarding.
In addition to his narrative work Torres is working on a documentary in Mexico about Bacanora, an agave-based spirit largely unknown to the world until now. He is also a frequent collaborator with Jaden Smith on his music videos and the fashion company MSFTSrep.
Torres is a graduate of the American Film Institute’s prestigious M.F.A. program in cinematography as well as an alumnus of Film Independent’s artist development program, Project Involve.
FRIDA OLIVA and ANDREW KIM (Production Designers) are a design duo with an extensive portfolio across television, films and commercials. Their recent work includes Amazon’s special “Yearly Departed” and the feature films Paradise Highway, Faith Based and Heartthrob. Oliva and Kim founded the design firm Wabi Sabi Labs in 2020. Creating spaces that live and breathe and exploring depths in layers are the foundation of their practice.
Hailing from Mexico City, Oliva has been designing movies for a decade. Kim has been art directing and working in the art department for more than 12 years. Both are members of the Art Directors Guild.
JACOB EHRLICH (Editor) has edited several award-winning short films and web series including the award winners Rinse & Repeat and “A Dolt’s Life.” Ehrlich makes his feature-film debut with At the Gates. Though based in Los Angeles, he recently graduated from Tufts University with a degree in film and media studies as well as computer science.
JULIA NEWMAN (Composer) is a Los Angeles-based film composer and songwriter with a long family history in entertainment. She is the daughter of composer Thomas Newman and one of only two female composers in the Newman dynasty. Her credits include the award-winning web series “Coupled” and she has worked across a variety of media platforms including short films, documentaries and video games.
Newman’s harmonic and textural sensibilities, along with an innate understanding of what constitutes drama, set her sound apart and make her work both recognizable and culturally relevant.
After receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from California Institute of the Arts, Newman went on to attend USC’s prestigious Screen Scoring Program, graduating with a master’s degree in the spring of 2020.
BEACON PICTURES (Production Company) is a film and television production company that has made 48 films and over 200 episodes of prime-time television. Films that Beacon has produced or executive produced include Air Force One, starring Harrison Ford; The Hurricane, starring Denzel Washington; Spy Game, starring Brad Pitt and Robert Redford; The Family Man, starring Nicolas Cage; Ladder 49, starring John Travolta and Joaquin Phoenix; The Guardian, starring Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher; Children of Men, starring Clive Owen; Dawn of the Dead, starring Sarah Polley; Bring It On, starring Kirsten Dunst; Open Range, starring Kevin Costner, Robert Duvall and Annette Bening; Thirteen Days, starring Kevin Costner; and A Lot Like Love, starring Ashton Kutcher.
PICTUREHOUSE (Production Company) is a Los Angeles-based content marketing and distribution company led by CEO Bob Berney and COO Jeanne R. Berney. The company acquires, markets and distributes global content across all platforms. Originally formed in 2005 as a joint venture between Time Warner’s HBO Films and New Line Cinema, the Picturehouse brand has a long history of storied excellence. For more information visit Picturehouse.com.