France / Belgium, 2002 (MIFF 2003, Documentaries)
Director: Chantal Akerman
Chantal Akerman's haunting new documentary focuses on the plight of Mexican workers and their attempts to cross the US border and forge a better life 'on the other side'.
Akerman sets the story in the twin towns of Agua Prieta, Mexico and Douglas, Arizona, USA. In Agua Prieta, she interviews those inhabitants whose desire to improve their lot in life requires them to risk their lives by crossing an unforgiving desert. Their fears and aspirations, anxieties and dreams are crystallised in heartbreaking accounts. In Douglas, the residents, both the police and ordinary citizens alike, express concern that the illegal immigrants pose a terrorist and health threat—ranchers even willingly turn a blind eye to the law and shoot Mexican trespassers.
With her trademark style of employing long tracking sequences and extended static shots, Akerman alternates vistas of astonishing beauty with penetrating tales to reinforce the stalemate that exists between the two very different countries.