My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To

Jonathan Cuartas, USA 2020, 90’
Materna Sanzaru

Every family is its own little universe: the people, the home, the rituals, the set places at the table, the favorite songs, the shared moments in front of the TV, and the everyday problems. Someone earns money, someone does the shopping, someone prepares meals. Someone needs care, and someone else provides it. It’s not always easy; sometimes you’d like life to look a little different, but ... a family’s a family. The universe of Dwight, Jennie, and Tom is no different in that respect. However, when guests cross the threshold of their house, with its tightly closed windows, they do so in only one direction—often dragged in by force. Does that sound like a horror? You’re warm: with well-known motifs such as photophobia and life-giving blood in the background, it’s a variation on the theme. In this case, however, we get a realistic story about a family in the style of a so-called kitchen sink drama—literally, as the kitchen is exactly where numerous bloody scenes take place. Jonathan Cuartas makes his debut, but with the kind of support others might envy: his father, Rodrigo, did the set design, and his older brother, Michael, did the cinematography. Blood’s thicker than water, you might say.

Kaja Klimek


Tribeca FF 2020 - Special Jury Mention (cinematography)

Jonathan Cuartas

Jonathan Cuartas is an American director, screenwriter, editor, and producer. He began his career in 2013, and he has made several short films. He works closely with his brother Michael, the cinematographer, and his father, Rodrigo, a production designer. My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To is his feature-length debut, which he also screened as part of US in Progress at the American Film Festival in 2019.


2013 The Pallor (short)

2015 Twelve Traditions (short)

2017 Kuru (short)

2018 The Horse and the Stag (short)

2020 Moje serce bije tylko, gdy mu każesz / My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To

Cast & Crew

director Jonathan Cuartas
screenplay Jonathan Cuartas
cinematography Michael Cuartas
editing T.J. Nelson
music Andrew Rease Shaw
cast Patrick Fugit, Ingrid Sophie Schram, Owen Campbell
producer Jesse Brown, Patrick Fugit
production Dualist, in association with Film Exchange
sales Visit Films
language English
coloration colour
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