American Barrio is a window in the life of the youth in the South Bronx. Told through the eyes of Benjamin “Benny” Marquez during a pivotal summer on the hot and dense streets of The Grand Concourse in the South Bronx – a summer that changes not only Benny’s life, but the lives of everyone around him. More
American Barrio, tells the story of Benny Marquez, a 17-year-old Hispanic kid living in the South Bronx, with his Alcoholic mother and her live-in boyfriend who works at Best Buy. It’s not an easy life and he’s looking to get out. His ticket out of the Bronx is his admission into NYU but he needs to figure out a way to cover his tuition. His family and friends keep urging him to seek out his estranged father who happens to be wealthy and started a whole new family in Yonkers. But this summer, during an unprecedented heat wave Benny is forced to question his own identity and surroundings starting on the day of his graduation where not one family member shows up to commencement to give their support.
As Benny embarks on a journey to leave the Bronx, tension builds between him and the strong personalities in his life. Benny has survived high school due to his enduring friendship with his three best friends Ray-Ray, Leo & Nick. Ray-Ray is self-destructive and dealing with drug addiction. Leo is leaving for the Marines and Nick is in love with Suehade, the Helen of Troy, of the Bronx. Each of them relies on each other to get through the difficult situations and emotions life in the South Bronx brings. By the end of the summer, each character has had to learn how to negotiate the precarious landscape of family, love and loyalty. Each has had to re-examine his assumptions about the lives they are leading. And each has discovered that we exist only in relationship to each other.