The Garden of Eden

Director: Maria Novaro
Screenwriters: Beatriz Novaro, Maria Novaro

Institute History

  • 1995 Sundance Film Festival


The Garden of Eden, María Novaro’s third feature film, intertwines the lives of four people who arrive in the hot, dusty frontier town of Tijuana on a quest for meaning and answers. Serena brings her three children in the hopes of starting a new life. Jane, a young American woman, comes to look for her brother Frank and to hook up with a close friend, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a Mexican-American who has returned to Mexico in search of her roots. Into their lives saunters Felipe, a young peasant who has come to Tijuana to cross the ugly, fifteen-mile-long steel wall separating Mexico from the United States. Ironically, for each of these characters, the promised land is what the others reject.

Using a sure eye and a loose rein for the actors, Novaro captures the restless, transitory magnetism of Tijuana and the people who are drawn to it. Renée Coleman is particularly compelling in her role, to which she brings a casual quality that is essential to Jane’s character. Although they come from different countries and castes and are striving for a range of goals, Novaro breathes humility and grace into these very real characters, and gives each strand of the narrative importance.

— Christian Gaines

Screening Details

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