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When There Are No Words

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A short personal film by Gabriella Canal

When her grandfather loses his voice to cancer, filmmaker Gabriella Canal captures the personal journey before and after his procedure, revealing a portrait of grief and resilience as her family's patriarch loses what once defined him.

Film Trailer

Fundraising Goal

After months of editing, the film is at the final step! We are seeking additional funding which will help meet the remainder of my fundraising goal—a total of $10,000 to get the film through post-production and distribution. In other words, get it across the finish line! These funds will go towards paying my vendors fairly—a colorist, a motion graphics designer, a sound mixer (sound is essential to this particular story), and a composer. The funds will also go towards fees for film festival distribution to get the film out into the world.


Sound Mixer: 40%

Composer: 20%

Colorist: 20%

Graphics: 10%

Distribution: 10%

Ways to Give

Non tax-deductible



Our Zelle username/mobile:





Venmo name: @Gabriella-Canal

Please note: Zelle, Paypal or Venmo will NOT be a tax-deductible donation. When you donate through these, the gift will be sent directly to my personal production company, Bonanza Productions, and strictly used to complete the film.




Please note: this option IS tax-deductible for you as a donor. However, Fractured Atlas takes a 8% administrative fee on all donations, with no additional fees for processing credit cards. This ultimately takes  8% away from the film project, unless you choose to cover it!


"When There Are No Words" is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of When There Are No Words" must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

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The Why

For as long as I can remember, I've been my family’s archivist. At countless dinner tables, I've drawn inspiration from their complex histories in Spanish and English, making sense of my own identity as a Colombian-American. My work is moved by our shared memories, those we've made together and those passed down to me through generations

When I received the news that my grandfather’s fifth cancer had returned, and that he wished to move forward with the laryngectomy procedure, I was in my last week of graduate school, finishing a short documentary for my thesis project. I had spent years making films about Latino culture and identity, about family (both biological and found) but the last thing I wanted to do was film something so painfully personal. Still, I knew that this is what I had to offer, this skill that I had learned could now be used to preserve the memory of his voice. I flew from New York to Miami where the procedure would happen, and with my camera kit, sat with Abuelo for hours to hear everything he wanted to tell me while he still had his voice. It began only as an interview I would share with my family—a gift. 

Originally, I was hesitant to make this film. I didn’t think that I had the strength to capture it. But I thought of my Abuelo’s own strength and wanted to show up for him. I began to understand the powerful story that could be shared. 

Laryngeal cancer accounts for about 177,000 new cases per year worldwide—and for most patients who undergo a total laryngetcomy, acceptance of the disability can be extremely challenging. Second to that, is the caretaking. It's not only a challenge for the patient, but for their family and caretakers as well.

By showcasing my grandfather's story, I hope to amplify the voices and experiences of cancer patients, especially Latino patients, highlighting their resilience, strength and ability to overcome adversity. 

I am moved by the man I see, fighting to live, and the people dedicated to making him whole again. I believe that’s what makes grandfather's story universal. His story is one of loss and love, and what it means to grieve someone while they’re still alive. But it’s also about what it means to care about people as they age, and watch the things that define them fade away.

I would be honored if you could be a part of this journey. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for taking the time to read more about this project. And thank you for your consideration in supporting it.

10 days left to give

The Team

Gabriella Canal - Director, Producer, Cinematographer

Gabriella is a documentary filmmaker and journalist living in Brooklyn. Inspired by her upbringing in a Colombian-American household, she produces character-driven stories rooted in identity and belonging with a focus on women’s voices and the Latino experience. She also loves highlighting the efforts of those working to improve human lives and protect the environment. As a producer, she’s worked with The Atlantic, John Leguizamo’s NGL Studios and Insignia Films. Her latest short documentary she directed and DP’d about a mother and daughter who struggle with their relationship and the legacy of their farm won a Student Academy Award, and was published by The New Yorker. Her previous short documentary about a lesbian separatist community in rural Alabama won Best Short Film at The 2021 Florida Film Festival and was recognized by New York Women in Film and Television. She is a member of The Video Consortium, Brown Girls Doc Mafia and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers. In 2022, she became a Pulitzer Center Fellow and an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. 


Sandra Tan — Producer

Sandra Tan is a producer born in Kuala Lumpur and based in New York City. She is a partner and producer at PROM, a production company based in Brooklyn, creating documentary and commercial content globally. In the last year, she produced the feature documentary “Out There: A National Parks Story” (winner of the 2023 Florida Film Festival Best Documentary Feature Audience Award), and the narrative shorts “Delta” (winner of the 2023 Cannes Lions Young Director Award) and “Goose Egg” (premiered at Atlanta Film Festival). Sandra hopes to continue to tell human-centric stories that challenge stereotypes, provoke thought, and foster empathy across cultural borders.

Maria Luisa Santos — Editor

Maria Luisa Santos is a Costa Rican-Cuban filmmaker and writer. She writes stories and makes films dealing with immigration, personal loss, and family. Luisa is interested in the connections between one’s internal life and the natural world, and she expresses subjective, unknowable experiences through description of landscape. Her latest short documentary Café de Temporada won at IndieGrits19 and her short fictional film TER premiered at SXSW20 and was broadcast by PBS. Her work has been shown in The New Yorker, SXSW, PBS, New Orleans FF, Femme Frontera, and Philadelphia Latino FF, amongst others.





John Paul Canal — Composer

JP Canal grew up with a fascination of the night sky and the universe. He was actually on track to study astrophysics but he searched within himself to discover his true passion of composing instrumental music for visual media. JP still carries his scientific mindset and brought it to the realms of music and sound design. He studied for four years at Berklee College of Music earning a bachelor's degree in Film Scoring with a minor in Video Game Scoring/Sound Design. He hopes to utilize his natural curiosity to push the boundaries of sound and create music that stands out for a project. Immersive audio and experiences have always captured his attention and he would like to keep those experiences alive by contributing his compositional skills. 


Shodekeh Talifero — Breath Artist

Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero is a groundbreaking beatboxer, vocal percussionist and breath artist who pushes the boundaries of the human voice within and outside the context of hip hop music and culture. Shodekeh performs with the globally renowned Alash, one of the world’s leading Tuvan Throat Singing ensembles, and features on their recent Smithsonian Folkways album release. He currently serves as an accompanist and composer in residence for Towson University’s Department of Dance and is the founding director of Embody, A Festival Series of the Vocal Arts.

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More to come as we bring on more team members with your help.

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