A mother may lose custody of her son because she refuses to medicate his ADHD, in the Mexican drama The Other Tom from filmmakers Rodrigo Plá and Laura Santullo.
The film had its 2021 world premiere in the Orizzonti competition at the Venice Film Festival and went on to win many awards at numerous film festivals including Best Film at Huelva, Best Actress Award at Tokyo, Best Director Award at Warsaw and Morelia, and five nominations for Mexico’s Ariel Awards nominations including Best Film, Best Actor, Best Editing, and Original screenplay.
The fifth collaboration by the Uruguayan-Mexican writer/director duo and parents, Rodrigo Plá and Laura Santullo – and their first (predominantly) English-language film – explores prejudice and the controversial prescription of medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) to young children.
The Other Tom, anchored by potent performances from Julia Chávez and Israel Rodríguez, along with Malicia, Sergio Leonardo Delgado, Alejandra Dozal, Tom Christopher Jones, and Sofia Alejandra Prieto, opens Friday, October 14 in the Cinema Village in New York City to be followed by other cities nationally.
Elena is a Latina single mother in El Paso, Texas who relies on Social Services. Her son Tom has behavioral issues and is stigmatized at school as a “problem child.” An absent father further complicates their difficult relationship. Tom is diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed psychiatric medication, but a strange accident alerts his mother to its side effects. When Elena refuses to continue administering the drugs to Tom, Social Services threaten to take him from her custody.
Stubborn, disruptive, unpredictable, unfocused, angry, nine-year-old Tom struggles to fit in the regulated environment of a public classroom, which weighs heavily on his mother Elena, a single parent juggling jobs and social service assistance. Elena is initially cooperative when the boy is diagnosed with ADHD and given a set of medications to counteract his “inappropriate” behavior. When Tom becomes a depressed shell of his former self, with a frightening potential for self-injury, Elena makes the fateful decision to throw away his drugs despite the consequences – from the school, and then from children’s protective services who threaten to remove Tom from her care.
Watch a trailer for The Other Tom.
Watch a clip from The Other Tom