“To those who had to leave and those who were lost along the way.”
Faint sounds of wind and nature, followed by a train on its tracks, sets the tone for this Undocumented Migrant Project documentary, filmed over a 5-year span. The film narrator begins ---
“The North American Migrant Trail spans over 2300 miles, from Southern Mexico to the US-Mexico border. Around 400,000 migrants a year take it, attempting to reach the United States. Tens of thousands go missing every year.”
The director frequently chooses close-ups for the camera shots, giving us a more emotional connection with the immigrants, as they share their experiences. We are shown footage of men jumping aboard a train, while others are saying their goodbyes. Both fear and joy fill the eyes of men leaving, while the men staying are left to only pray for the safety and success of their friends and family.
A 31-year-old survivor, Gustavo Alberto Lopez Quiroz from Nicaragua demonstrates how he, and other immigrants, slept on the train tracks. By resting his head on the tracks, Quiroz is able to feel the vibrations of nearing trains. Later, Quiroz, asleep on the train as he awaits the arrival of his final destination – the United States –, abruptly wakes up to pain in his chest. He’s been shot! The railway guards show no mercy to Quiroz nor his migrating company. Looking down, seeing blood, falling off the train hard onto the ground, Quiroz fights the urge to give up. His lack of identification and the thought of his family being the ones to find his limp body made him realize giving up was not an option.
“One goes with God, but God looks after your soul. But the body…God doesn’t protect that.”
This OVID.tv Film Shines a Light on Deaths Along The Migrant Trail
As the film continues, we also meet Anthropologist Jason De León at the University of Michigan composes an Undocumented Migration Lab Project, collecting articles of deteriorated clothing, shoes, backpacks, books, and other items found along the Migrant Trail.
“We’ve found human remains before, usually fragmented pieces of bone, but this was the first person that we had found here who was complete.” - Jason De León
Though Border South is heavy at most times, it also includes some humor scattered throughout the documentary with scenes of Quiroz joking around with his family and significant other, along with other men featured lightening the mood by sharing personal stories and pastimes.
The director, Raul Paz Pastrana, tells an intimate story of faith, passion, dedication and hardships throughout Border South, in this writer’s view. We learn about the dangers of the Migrant Trail and just how far immigrants will go to start a new life. Through it all, the survivors portray strength and resilience. The importance of getting to the United States is high for them, and even though the dangers are prominent, the survivors understand they need to do everything they can, while also maintaining a positive attitude.
If you want to learn more about immigration, the Migrant Trail and the Undocumented Migration Lab Project, Border South is definitely a good fit for you. This film will likely also appeal to all who seek suspense, action, hope and sentimental scenes intertwined in a documentary format.
Length: 1h 22min
Director and Cinematographer: Raul Paz Pastrana
To view the film, visit the OVID.tv page for BORDER SOUTH
Images courtesy of OVID.tv
About the Author: Samantha Hartzell
Anything Samantha does, she does it while singing and dancing. She grew up very musically — taking four years of singing lessons, being involved in hip-hop and tap dance, along with learning a little bit of piano. She enjoys caffeine a little bit too much. Samantha’s favorite activities include hiking, beach trips, traveling, reading/writing, cooking, going to baseball games and trying new things.