...justicia y dignidad para todos los immigrantes...
Hey, blogspot readers, SouthSide's taking a break from music for a film screen. On Friday, she had the extreme pleasure of attending El Zocalo Urbano's Film Festival at Pilsen's Lincoln UMC (United Methodist Church). El Zocalo Urbano is an organization that works in conjunction with other community leaders, organizations and politicians in the fight for immigration rights and reform as well as promotes cultural, artistic expression at the grass root level. The selected cinemas for the weekly free showings certainly did reflect the main theme of this organization's goal. The festival which began last week (Feb 26) with The 800 Mile Wall, will conclude on March 12 with Elvira. This week's cinema of choice was 7 Soles starring Ricardo Chilaca, Gustavo Sanchez Parra and Evangelina Sosa. The movie showings are free with discussions afterwards ...plus there are snacks, soda and water provided for a small price (way cheaper than at your local cinemas).
7 Soles, directed by Pedro Ulteras, was about a group of Mexican migrants and their struggle as well as hardships faced while crossing the desert. This 2009 film centers around on one particular group of migrants - a mother crossing the US border with her son and daughter. They make this treacherous journey from Sonora, Mexico to join her husband, Senor Ramona, already living and working in Chicago. He paid a hefy lump sum of money to hire "coyotes" (human migrant traffickers) to transport his family to be with him. Also traveling with his family included a young mother with her infant son, "Don", his son and a friend, a husband and wife and a few other migrants. Guiding this group across the border and then through the desert was their two coyotes in which one was named Javier (or Negro as the second coyote called him).
As the journey began under a cover of darkness crossing the Mexico-US border through barbed wire, one might think the rest of the way would be simply easy. In fact, blogspot readers, the real journey was barely getting started. There were untold dangers lurking behind the prickly cactus plants. Besides watching out for snakes and other creepy poisonous things that go bump in the night, the migrants had to keep an watchful eye out for la migra - border patrol, National Guard, Minutemen (homemade militia groups), etc combing the desert at night for illegals crossing the border. Yet the journey was also hampered with a sudden route change which forced the group further and deeper into the desert than previously anticipated. This move did cause tempers to flare amongst the migrants following their guides thinking they (the coyotes) were trying to get them lost. And with the new route now taken, the water supply gradually becomes a precious yet scarce commodity. What started as a quick passage into the US across the desert suddenly turned into days upon days towards the migrants' new pick up point for Phoenix. SouthSide truly sympathized for these people as they traveled under a gruelling hot conditions across the vast, dry land.
This group of migrants faced extreme hardships and tragedy though retaining that strong will to survive at any and/or all cost. It was heartbreaking to watch Senora Ramona cross the desert without her much needed diabetes medicine or the young mother struggling to keep her infant son alive while nearly running out of water and food for him. Death seemed to follow this group at every twist and turn especially after "Don" (who couldn't continue the journey due to a severely broken ankle) was left behind with his dying son (after being stabbed by Javier). Then the infant son died from no food and dehydration. Next it was the husband (dehydration) and his wife (murdered by the second coyote who didn't want to leave her dying husband). SouthSide was heartbroken that Senora Ramona didn't survive the journey to reach her husband nor did her son who did from a scorpion's sting which left her daughter alone in the desert. Meanwhile the rest of the migrants eventually do arrive "safely" to Phoenix - only be held captive.
There's somewhat a happy conclusion to this film however it did come with a heavy price of sorrow (for Senor Ramona) and a coyote's redemption. Though it's not in his nature to care, Javier did have a spark of compassion for the migrants he was leading across the desert. Even despite raping the young mother in exchange for water to keep her son alive, he did care for Senora Ramona and her childern promising that he would make sure they reach Chicago alive. He demonstrated it again by searching for the little girl (Amanada) after escaping the illegal migrant safehouse. His redemption came when he betrayed his fellow coyotes and boss by informing la migra of the illegals housed there. And then safely delivering the little girl to her father.
7 Soles (a reference to the seven dead bodies found in the desert) was a powerful film about the journey many illegal migrants face everyday when crossing into the US. The movie was dedicated to those who continue to struggle to find a better life here. An excellent movie (with English subtitles) that had believable characters and realistic desert scenes of hardship, despair and danger. SouthSide highly recommends checking out this movie as well as many other like 7 Soles to fully comprehend why the US needs immigration reform. During the weekend of March 20-22, families, community and faith leaders as well as politicians will untite for a march in Washington D.C. It is to bring to President Obama's attention that the time has come for reform ...that it is very important to this nation as well as universal healthcare and jobs/economy. For more information, visit www.familialatinaunida.org.
For more information about El Zocalo Urbano, visit www.myspace.com/elzocalourbano.
Until next time, support your local scene,