A friend of mine recently sparked my interest in Latin American documentary films – random I know, but in a city as culturally diverse as New York, it’s not hard to find a way to fuel this growing interest of mine. In November of last year, we attended the Cortocircuito short film festival at the King Juan Carlos I Center down around NYU for FREE which was so much fun. And now that I’ve been on the look out for more opportunities such as that, last Thursday, I sought to do something fun and fancyFREE before classes started again so I thought I’d see what the Passport to NY Museums had to offer. The Museo del Barrio on 105th Street and 5th Avenue, I found out, has a monthly film series called Nuevo Cine, and I got to see a documentary called Los Que Se Quedan which means “those who remain.”
The documentary followed the lives of a number of Mexican families as some of the male members contemplate illegally entering the United States in search of work, but the focus was on highlighting the deep family connections and what the migrant workers leave behind and risk when they leave Mexico. All throughout the documentary, a common thread among the various families is a feeling of desperation – that there are no opportunities to make money where they are and their only option is to leave. Everyone knew someone who had left, or who was planning to leave – this issue seemed to touch everyone in various pueblos or towns in Mexico. But my absolute favorite part of the film was that even though the families had very little, they still had a huge community celebration for the First Communion of the local children – gorgeous dresses, fireworks, lots of dancing and music and plenty of food; a stark contrast to everything else the documentary portrays. By the end of the film when one mother and her two children are saying good-bye to all of their friends and family as they head North to join her husband who has been working in the US for some time, I found myself in tears. All in all it was such a touching film and I was so moved by the amazing personal stories it presented.
This monthly film series is totally FREE, and I’m totally going to check out every one of them! It was so much fun to explore an area of the city that I don’t normally frequent, to not have to spend any money, and to practice my Spanish. At the end of the screening, the director was even there to answer questions from the audience. The whole experience was so sincere that it made me feel like I was surrounded by my family and friends. It really was un gran dia en el barrio!
Mary Baird, CC ’10