Little Angel

Institute History

  • 2000 January Screenwriters Lab


Thirteen-year-old Angel Marquez is a nut for baseball. He plays stickball in the streets and dreams of playing professional ball like his father Luis once did back in the Dominican Republic. That was before Angel's family came to New York. Before his mother Maria's hair turned white prematurely from the stress of two jobs and interminable 14-hour days of nonstop work. Before his father died and his grandmother, Tata, came to help take care of Angel and his older brother Carlos. Angel's a good kid but prone to mischief. Tata doesn't understand why he can't be more studious like Carlos, who fends off pressure to join a local gang. On the cusp of adolescence, Angel's life is transformed one evening when he overhears his mother and Tata discussing Luis and "that puta" he lives with.

Upon investigation, Angel learns that his father is now living with another family in the Bronx. He talks his way into an afterschool job at the factory where Luis works as a foreman. As son and father question each other in a verbal game of cat and mouse, we understand that each knows the other's identity. The wall that separates them soon tumbles down and the two begin a secret relationship. Angel asks Carlos indirectly about their father but his older brother is adamant that he died. In the meantime, we meet Luis's family: his wife Melanie and his two young daughters. Melanie is determined that Luis not bring his other children into their home. As Angel attempts to reconcile family lies with his new knowledge, Luis faces his own struggle to integrate his two families.

Angel forces Carlos to confront the reality of their father's existence, propelling Carlos to participate in an act of violence with the gang he's been avoiding. When Carlos is jailed for stabbing another boy, Angel turns to his father, but Luis is of little help. Now aware of Angel's relationship with his father, Maria tries to make her son understand why she and Tata withheld the truth from him. Maria learns that Luis intends to remain in Angel's life and reluctantly agrees with Tata to send Angel back home to the Dominican Republic. Distraught at the idea of losing Angel, Luis attempts to reconnect with his son. Angel is resistant to the idea of going back to the Dominican Republic and accepts his father's invitation to visit his home and finally meet his new wife and daughters. Thus begins a momentous day in which a family's dark secrets are finally exposed to the light.


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