Xiara Trujillo is a precocious seven-year-old who moved from the Bronx to Maryland with her mom, Aracelli Guzman, four years ago. Though she seems happy hanging out and playing with her pal Melissa, Xiara becomes defensive and emotional when talking about her father, Harold Linares.
As we see and learn, Harold is in jail serving a ten-year sentence for weapons possession; Xiara seems to blame his incarceration on her mother, whom she says "kept calling the police." Xiara, who has always been extremely close to her father, acts out with her mother.
As we get to know Harold in prison, we find that he has ambitions to be a hip-hop star, and loves to sing rap songs whenever he talks to Xiara on the phone, or when she comes to see him in prison (the jail is in DC, only a few miles away). For her part, Xiara shares her father's love of music, and composes her own rap songs that she sings back at her father.
Usually, however, despite putting on a brave front, Xiara's encounters with Harold end with her devastated, wishing she could be with him. Aracelli thinks that her desire to be with Harold is perhaps one reason Xiara gets into more trouble than other girls her age. Xiara admits to stealing when she was younger, so that perhaps she would end up in prison with her father.
Xiara was born in 1996, and has been the apple of her father's eye ever since. However, in the years leading up to his most recent incarceration, Aracelli and Harold have had problems. Both mother and daughter describe incidents where the parents fought in the presence of Xiara, in particular after Harold came home one day with lipstick on his clothes.
Xiara, who recalls how during sleepovers she and Melissa used to hide under the covers while her parents fought, has told her father she doesn't care if he and Aracelli split up - as long as she can be with him. The fact that he'll be in jail for such a long time is extremely upsetting to Xiara, who'll be 17 when Harold expects his release. Recently, Harold was moved from the D.C. jail to a federal prison over 300 miles away. Now, Xiara's only contact is the infrequent collect call from her father.
Xiara receives one of these calls while playing with Melissa; her father sings her a rap song he composed called "7/27/96" (her birthday) which communicates the deep and abiding love he has for his daughter. After Xiara and Melissa share their own duet for Harold, time runs out on the call - and Xiara collapses in tears. She is comforted by her grandmother (Aracelli's mom), who assures Xiara that one day, Harold will return, and "It's gonna be all right."
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS: Xiara's Song was directed by Academy Award®-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus and produced by Rory Kennedy, who are award-winning partners and co-founders of Moxie Firecracker Films, an independent documentary production company. Garbus/Kennedy's previous HBO credits include four acclaimed documentary projects focusing on disenfranchised and/or disadvantaged people in the U.S. and abroad: 2004's A Boy's Life, 2002's The Execution of Wanda Jean, 1999's American Hollow and 2003's five-part series Pandemic: Facing AIDS. Garbus also produced The Farm: Angola, USA, which won two Emmys®, the Sundance Grand Jury Prize, and was nominated for an Academy Award® in 1998.
CREDITS: Produced and Directed By Liz Garbus; Produced By Rory Kennedy; Edited By Eric Seuel Davies; Photographed By Daniel B. Gold and Don Lenzer. For HBO: Senior Producer: Lisa Heller; Executive Producer: Sheila Nevins