Chicharito and #WorldCupWives

Oh my! Chicharito, you like white bread? Why didn't you say so? Aquí estoy, guapo.

Oh my! Chicharito, you like white bread? Why didn’t you say so? Aquí estoy, guapo.

Image source: Gary Denness

This morning, up before the sun, I grabbed my phone and started going through email before I was even out of bed. I don’t really encourage this habit, but some days, like today, I will come upon something in my email that puts a smile on my face and wakes me up on the right note.

The smile on my face this morning was put there by a video posted on Mi Blog es Tu Blog, (which I subscribe to because Laura Martínez is awesome at discovering really interesting and often hilarious things.) The video she posted is actually a re-blog of something she discovered back in 2011, but I’m glad she re-blogged it because I had never seen it, and maybe it’ll be new to you, too.

The video was uploaded by a creative young woman by the name of Brittany Young, who is apparently a soccer fan, and a Chicharito fan in particular. (A girl after my own corazón!) – The song is set to The Beatles’ “Let it Be” and is called “Little Pea.” ¡Me encanta!

I actually heard a rumor that Chicharito may play for Barcelona, (Chicharito and Messi? Hello, unstoppable team!) so I hope we can anticipate a Javier Hernández tribute song to the tune of a Julio Iglesias or Gypsy Kings song. Anyway, while we’re on the topic of Chicharito songs, have I ever shared “El Chicharito”? – I don’t think I have. Be prepared to have this stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Jajajaja…

Carajo, while we’re here, let’s just make a Chicharito playlist.

Okay, not really – those are actually the best Chicharito songs, so I’ll stop there, but since we’re talking about fútbol, I wanted to mention a new project one of my fellow gringa bloggers is working on called “World Cup Wives.” Sarah of A Life With Subtitles and her friend Katie are going to be doing some video commentary of the games this summer. Apparently their husbands tend to be “less than enthusiastic” regarding their comments on players’ cuteness, family lives, attractiveness of uniforms, and such. (I understand where they’re coming from because I’m probably going to have to pay for that little piropo I made at the very top of this blog post about “white bread.” Carlos won’t be amused.)

Anyway, you can see the first #WorldCupWives blog post here and the first video here, (both are hilarious and worth checking out!) … If you’re a blogger and relate to being a #WorldCupWife, you’re also invited to share a post or video about how you were introduced to the world of soccer using the hashtag.

Less than 50 days to go until the start of the games! Until then… El Chicharito, el Chicharito, el Chicharitoritoritooo!…

Note: I am not an official sponsor or partner of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. Any mention of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ was editorial in nature and should not be interpreted as an endorsement on their part of myself, my opinions, or this website. I am just a soccer fan sharing with other soccer fans. All opinions are my own.

Libros for All Kids

meg-medina-books

Hola! This is a guest post by Cuban American author, Meg Medina, as part of the Latinas for Latino Lit 2nd annual Día Blog Hop, which we’re proudly participating in for the second year in a row. Check it out! (And then check out the other L4LL’s Día Blog Hop posts from other Latino/a children’s and YA authors.)

Libros for All Kids

A guest post by: Meg Medina

Something happened to me recently at the National Latino Children’s Literature Conference that gave me a glimmer of hope against the dismal  – and now familiar – news that we are still publishing too few kids’ books that feature Latino characters.  

I had been asked to talk about my young adult novel, YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS.  It earned the Pura Belpré medal and the CYBILS Fiction Award, among other nice distinctions, and it was one of the measly two percent of children’s books by or about Latinos that was published last year.

If you’re unfamiliar, my novel is set in Queens, New York, and is the story of 16 year-old Piedad Sanchez who finds herself in the cross-hairs of a school bully.

After my talk, a librarian named Erica came to find me. It’s always such an honor when someone tells you they connected with your story. But I was especially happy to hear from her. She grew up in suburban Wisconsin with all brothers. There were no Latinos to speak of in her world.

“I read your book and I thought, oh my God, that’s my story.”

I could have kissed her whole face.

She’s right, of course. It is her story. It’s her story exactly the way Charlotte’s Web once felt like my story as a kid, even though I’d never seen a live pig and I lived two-hundred miles from the nearest farm in New York.

It’s no secret that I write stories that feature Latino kids and their families – the whole glorious ajiaco that I grew up with and that shaped how I move through the world.

But I do not write stories only for Latino kids. I write books for all kids about the universal problems of growing up. You remember that horror, don’t you? The frustrations with your family? Being betrayed by peers? Falling in love with creeps? To me, it doesn’t matter if a girl is named Fern or Piedad. What really matters is that her story is told with honesty and compassion.

When I think of books and what we want reflected in them, I say that it’s wise to cast a wide net. All kids benefit from stories that not only affirm their own experience but that also that allow them a peek at those same experiences through a slightly different lens. The magic of such books is in that beautiful spot where the unique and the universal hold hands like good and faithful friends.

meg-medinaMeg Medina is an award-winning Cuban American author who writes picture books, middle grade, and YA fiction. The first American citizen in her family, Meg was raised in Queens, New York by her mother – and a clan of tios, primos, and abuelos who arrived from Cuba over the years. She was the fortunate victim of their storytelling, and credits them with her passion for tales.

Meg’s work examines how cultures intersect through the eyes of young people, and she brings to audiences stories that speak to both what is unique in Latino culture and to the qualities that are universal. Her favorite protagonists are strong girls.

Her books are: MILAGROS GIRL FROM AWAY; TIA ISA WANTS A CAR, for which she earned the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats New Writers Award; THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND, a 2012 Bank Street Best Books; and YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS, which was the winner of the 2014 Pura Belpré Medal, which is presented annually by the American Library Association to a Latino writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.

When she is not writing, Meg works on community projects that support girls, Latino youth and/or literacy. She lives with her extended family in Richmond, Virginia.

Follow Meg’s blog at www.megmedina.com

Connect with Meg on Facebook and Twitter

Calles de Tierra

Image source: Flickr user Mircea Turcan

Image source: Flickr user Mircea Turcan

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Descubrí un hermoso poema escrito por un poeta mexicano sobre la vida en la zona rural de México que quiero compartir. Aquí está:

Calles de Tierra

Nunca voy a olvidarme del rancho
siempre voy a sentirme orgulloso
como extraño sus calles de tierra
cuando bebíamos agua del pozo.

A las cuatro los gallos cantaban
a las cinco ladraban los perros
a las seis el molino da vueltas
y al trabajo van los jornaleros.

Un pedazo de tierra sembrado
Cuatro vacas, un puerco en engorda
Una yunta jalando el arado
y mi apa’ desgranando mazorca.

El comal con la leña del cerro
y mi abuela torteando a las siete
los frijoles hirviendo en la hoya
y mi abuelo afilando el machete.

Un sombrero viejo y maltratado
tres camisas y dos pantalones
los huaraches ya están desgastados
pero no me da vergüenza ser pobre.

Nunca voy a olvidarme del rancho
siempre voy a sentirme orgulloso
como extraño sus calles de tierra
y a las señoras con su rebozo.

Bueno, tengo una confesión. Esta “poema” es en realidad letras escritas por Espinoza Paz. Sé que algunas personas desprecian a Espinoza Paz. Algunas personas lo llaman “naco” y no ven su valor, pero yo quería demostrar que cuando uno lee estas letras como un poema de un poeta anónimo, se puede ver la hermosura de las palabras; uno puede ver que hay corazón y talento detrás de las palabras. Esta es una lección, espero, en no juzgar basada en la superficie de las cosas; mejor buscamos más profundo e intentar una perspectiva diferente.

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

I found a beautiful poem written by a Mexican poet about life in rural Mexico I want to share. Here is my translation of the poem to English (which doesn’t do it justice):

Dirt Roads


I’ll never forget the ranch,
I will always be proud,
How I miss its dirt roads,
When we would drink water from the well.

At four o’clock the roosters crowed,
At five the dogs barked,
At six the mill spins,
and the laborers go to work.

A piece of land sown,
Four cows, a pig being fattened,
Oxen pulling a plow,
And my father threshing corn.

The griddle with the firewood from the hill,
My grandmother making tortillas at 7 o’clock,
The beans boiling in the pot,
And my grandfather sharpening the machete.

A hat, old and battered,
Three shirts and two pants,
Sandals that are already worn out,
but I’m not ashamed to be poor.

I’ll never forget the ranch,
I will always be proud,
How I miss its dirt roads,
And the ladies with their ​​shawls.

Okay, I have a confession. This “poem” is actually lyrics written by Espinoza Paz. I know some people look down on Espinoza Paz. Some people call him “naco” and don’t see his value, but I wanted to show that when one reads these lyrics as a poem by an anonymous poet, you can see how beautiful the words are; one can see that there is heart and talent behind the words. This is a lesson, I hope, not to judge based on surface things; we should instead look deeper and try a different perspective.

Bohemian Shakira-style Brass Washer Bracelet

bracelet_latinaish_604

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

I don’t know why, but whenever I see an armful of pretty bohemian-style bracelets I think of Colombian singer, Shakira, and she’s the inspiration for this bracelet made of simple yet surprisingly elegant-looking materials. Cotton string and brass washers are re-imagined into a piece of jewelry that will be sure to attract attention and compliments. With the holidays soon upon us, this is an idea you may want to add to your list of crafts to try. It’s affordable and quick to make, plus your favorite amiga, hermana, sobrina or prima will be sure to love it.

Bohemian Shakira-style Brass Washer Bracelet

What you need:

10 to 20 flat brass washers (small #8S, Blue Hawk/HILLMAN)
string (Blue Hawk twisted cotton twine)
scissors
sticky tape

Directions:

1. Cut 4 pieces of twine to 4 feet long.
2. Tie the pieces together at the top leaving about 4 inches above the knot. (See photo below.)
3. Tape the knot to a surface to secure in place.
4. Tie string #1 around strings #2 and #3 in this way: String #1 goes OVER strings #2 and #3 then comes back UNDER strings #2 and #3, then over itself.) Pull gently so the loop moves up and tightens at the top. (See photo below.)
5. Tie string #4 around strings #2 and #3 in the same way as described in step 4. (Note that strings #2 and #3 always remain together in the middle.) Repeat step 4 and step 5 about five to six times.
6. Slide a washer onto string #1 or #4 (alternate) before tying around strings #2 and #3. Repeat step 4 and 5 before adding another washer. Keep repeating steps 4, 5, and 6 until bracelet is long enough to tie around your wrist.
7. Tie the bracelet off the same way you tied the strings together at the top in step 2.
8. Cut off any undesired excess string.
9. Bracelet is worn tied around the wrist, (I double knot it to keep it from falling off.)

The supplies

The supplies

The method.

The method.

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

Desi y Lucy en What’s My Line?

desiwhatsmyline

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

Hoy descubrí videos de un programa de juegos de la década 1950 que se llama “What’s My Line?

En este juego, un panel de personas que están con los ojos vendados hacen preguntas para adivinar la identidad del invitado famoso.

Lucille Ball y Desi Arnaz ambos han aparecido en el programa y fueron divertidos como siempre. Me gustaría que este programa todavía existiría.

Desi

Lucy

Desi y Lucy

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Today I discovered videos of a game show from the early 1950’s called “What’s My Line?”

For this game, a panel of people who are blindfolded ask questions to guess the identity of the celebrity guest.

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz both have appeared on the program and were amusing as always. I wish this program still existed.

No moleste

Image source: Flickr user Justin Shearer

Image source: Flickr user Justin Shearer

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. Scroll down for English translation!

¿Han oído hablar del comediante Tig Notaro? Un tiempo atrás escuché su historia conmovedora en NPR y me encantó tanto que me puse a buscar a los vídeos de su comedia. (Todavía quiero comprar y descargar “Live” – que sigo escuchando muy buenas críticas.)

Éste vídeo me hizo reir tanto, y porque incluye español, sabía que ustedes lo apreciaran también.

(A propósito, hay una camisa que dice “no moleste” en venta!)

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Have you heard of the comedian Tig Notaro? I heard her really touching story on NPR awhile back and loved her so much that I started looking up videos of her comedy. (I still want to buy and download the “Live” set I keep hearing rave reviews about.)

This one had me laughing so hard, and because it includes Spanish I knew you guys would appreciate it too.

(By the way, there’s a “no moleste” shirt!)

5 Vídeos Favoritos – Agosto 2013

5vids

Today is Spanish Friday so this post is in Spanish. If you participated in Spanish Friday on your own blog, leave your link in comments. English translation in italics!

Ya saben que siempre estoy colectando vídeos que me gustan para compartir con ustedes. Estos son mis vídeos favoritos en este momento! // You guys already know that I’m always collecting videos that I like so I can share them with you. Here are my favorite videos at this moment!

#1. No, no es un Justin Bieber Colombiano – es una parodia que hizo un taxista en Medellín. // No, it’s not a Colombian Justin Bieber – it’s a parody made by a taxi driver in Medellin.

#2. Tienes que escapar de los Zetas? Haganles una pizza como este dichoso salvadoreño – ¡Guau! // Need to escape from the Zetas? Make them a pizza like this lucky Salvadoran. Wow!

#3. Miren estas cipotas subiendo el árbol sin miedo y con tanta habilidad! Qué lindas son! // Look at these girls climb the tree without any fear and so much skill! How cute they are!

#4. Conan O’Brien aprende malas palabras en español por Diego Luna. // Conan O’Brien learns bad words in Spanish from Diego Luna.

#5. Mi amiga Maricela me dijo que el documental “Hecho en México” ya está disponible en Netflix. Se ve buenísimo. // My friend Maricela told me this documentary, “Hecho en Mexico” is now available on Netflix. It looks really good.

NOT the Latino Justin Bieber

Image source: Matt Hunter/Mi Señorita video

Image source: Matt Hunter/Mi Señorita video

“Justin Bieber can sing in Spanish?” was my confused reaction upon hearing Matt Hunter for the first time this morning. Apparently I’m not the only one who has made this comparison, as I found in this People en Español interview with the Latino American singer (who turns out to be of Colombian and Italian descent):

Y como los medios lo han identificado como el “Justin Bieber latino”, Matt responde: “Yo admiro a Justin Bieber; la música de él es bien cool, pero yo soy mi propia persona; tengo mi propia musica, mi propio estilo. A veces no me gusta que me comparen, pero me gusta mucho la música de Justin Bieber”.

Por eso prefiere que no lo presenten como el Justin Bieber latino: “No. Yo soy el Matt Hunter latino”.

- source: People en Español

So, out of respect for Matt’s wishes, I will refrain from calling him the Latino Justin Bieber even though I’m completely behind on new music right now, (as Matt has been making news since at least last year), and I seriously did think it was Justin Bieber singing in Spanish. I just want to say I love this video and this song is probably going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the week.

Fun Fact: Matt Hunter was the voice of Diego on Nickelodeon’s animated children’s show, Go, Diego, Go!

Finding My Heroes – a guest post

Today I’m honored to share a guest post from children’s author and Salvadoran, René Colato Laínez, as part of a “blog hop” and giveaway by Latinas for Latino Literature (L4LL).

Twenty Latino/a authors and illustrators plus 20 Latina bloggers, (well, 19 Latina bloggers and this gringa), have joined up with L4LL for this event. From April 10th to April 30th a different Latino/a author/illustrator will be hosted on a different blog. (Click here for all the posts!) Today you can read René’s touching article right here on Latinaish.com and then see the details to enter the giveaway below.

Without further ado, I present, René Colato Laínez.

Rene_Colato_Lainez

Finding My Heroes

by René Colato Laínez

I learned to read and write in El Salvador. As a child, I loved to read the comic books of my heroes: El Chavo del ocho, El Chapulin Colorado, Mafalda, Cri Cri, and Topo Gigo. My favorite book was Don Quijote de La Mancha.

When I arrived to the United States, I tried to find these heroes in the school library or in my reading books, but I didn’t have any luck. I asked myself, are my heroes only important in Spanish? I knew that the children from Latin America knew about my heroes but the rest of the children and my teachers did not have any clue.

One day, I was writing about my super hero and my teacher asked me, who is this CHA-PO-WHAT? COLORADO and then, she suggested, “It would be better for you to write about Superman or Batman.” On another occasion, a teacher crossed out with her red pen all the instances of “Ratón Pérez” in my essay and told me, “A mouse collecting teeth! What a crazy idea! You need to write about the Tooth Fairy.”

I started to read and enjoy other books but I missed my heroes. In my senior year of high school, my English teacher said that our next reading book would be The House On Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I will never forget that day when I was holding the book. It was written by a Latina writer and I could relate to everything that she was describing in the book. The House On Mango Street became my favorite book. I said to myself, “Yes, we are also important in English.”

I write multicultural children books because I want to tell all my readers that our Latino voices are important, too, and that they deserve to be heard all over the world.

My goal as a writer is to produce good multicultural children’s literature; stories where minority children are portrayed in a positive way, where they can see themselves as heroes, and where they can dream and have hope for the future. I want to write authentic stories of Latin American children living in the United States.

My new book is Juguemos al Fútbol/ Let’s Play Football (Santillana USA). This is a summary of the book: Carlos is not sure that football can be played with an oval-shaped ball. Chris is not sure that it can be played with a round ball. It may not be a good idea to play with a kid who is so different… He doesn’t even know how to play this game! Wait. It looks kind of fun… Let’s give it a try! Enjoy and celebrate the coming together of two cultures through their favorite sports.

To conclude, I want to share this letter in English and Spanish. Everyone, let’s read!

______________________________________________________________________________________

Dear readers:

When I was a child, my favorite place in the house was a corner where I always found a rocking chair. I rocked myself back and forth while I read a book. Soon the rocking chair became a magic flying carpet that took me to many different places. I met new friends. I lived great adventures. In many occasions, I was able to touch the stars. All the books I read transported me to the entire universe.

Books inspired me! I also wanted to write about the wonderful world that I visited in my readings. I started to write my own stories, poems and adventures in my diary. Every time I read and revised my stories, I found new adventures to tell about. Now, I write children’s books and it is an honor to share my books with children around the world.

I invite you to travel with me. Pick up a book and you will find wonders. Books are full of adventures, friends and fantastic places. Read and reach for the stars.

Saludos,
René Colato Laínez

En español:

Querido lectores,

Cuando era niño, el lugar favorito de mi casa era una esquina donde estaba una mecedora. Me mecía de adelante hacia atrás mientras leía un libro. Enseguida la mecedora se convertía en una alfombra mágica y volaba por el cielo. Conocía a nuevos amigos. Vivía nuevas aventuras. En muchas ocasiones, hasta llegaba a tocar las estrellas. Los libros que leía, me podían llevar a cualquier parte del universo.

¡Los libros me inspiraban tanto! Yo también quería escribir sobre ese mundo maravilloso que visitaba. Así que comencé a escribir mis cuentos, poemas y aventuras en un diario. Cada vez que releía y volvía a escribir un cuento, este se llenaba de nuevas grandes aventuras. Hoy en día escribo libros para niños y es un honor compartirlos con muchos niños alrededor del mundo.

Los invito a viajar conmigo. Tomen un libro y descubrirán maravillas. Los libros están llenos de aventuras, amigos, y lugares hermosos. Lean y toquen las estrellas.

Saludos,
René Colato Laínez

René Colato Laínez is a Salvadoran award-winning author of many multicultural children’s books, including Playing Lotería, The Tooth Fairy Meets El Ratón Pérez, From North to South, René Has Two Last Names and My Shoes and I. He is a graduate of the Vermont College MFA program in Writing for Children & Young Adults. René lives in Los Angeles and  he is a teacher in an elementary school, where he is known as “the teacher full of stories.” Visit him at renecolatolainez.com.

The Giveaway

L4LL has put together a wonderful collection of Latino children’s literature to be given to a school or public library. Many of the books were donated by the authors and illustrators participating in this blog hop. You can read a complete list of titles here on the L4LL website.

To enter your school library or local library in the giveaway, simply leave a comment below.

The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, April 29th, 2013. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and announced on the L4LL website on April 30th, Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros, and will be contacted via email – so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If we have no way to contact you, we’ll have to choose someone else!)

By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.

¡Buena suerte!

The Girl

thegirl

When I first saw the trailer for The Girl, I knew immediately that I wanted to see the film – and then I found out that it opens on March 8th in New York and on March 15th in Los Angeles, (two locations I’m nowhere near.) Thankfully I not only got the opportunity to screen the film online, but to interview the director, David Riker.

I think you’ll be able to sense how much I loved this film from my interview questions (below), but if it isn’t clear enough, I’ll tell you – I loved it and recommend that anyone who is able to see it – go see it. I’ve watched a lot of films with immigration and border themes – this one is different thanks to the fact that it’s told through the eyes of a gringa who is already struggling with her own issues. The Girl will make you think, and then think twice about border issues and what defines a good life.

Description:

From David Riker, the director of La Ciudad, and Paul Mezey, the producer of Oscar-nominated films Maria Full of Grace and Beasts of the Southern Wild, comes a new film The Girl.

Abbie Cornish plays Ashley, a young single mom struggling with the loss of her child to Social Services, unwilling to accept the consequences of her actions and trapped in the quicksand of her south Texas life.

When Ashley’s path collides with Rosa (Maritza Santiago Hernandez), a strong-minded girl who has lost her mother while crossing the Rio Grande, she unwittingly begins a journey that will change her life forever.

Starting in a big box store in Texas and ending in a small village in southern Mexico, The Girl turns the immigrant story upside down, questioning the myth of the American Dream and asks that we consider the possibility of a better life – south of the border.

Interview with Director, David Riker

Latinaish: I understand you also wrote the script for this film? What was your inspiration?

DR: My inspiration to write the script has its roots in my debut feature, called ‘La Ciudad’ which was filmed over the course of five years in New York’s Latin American immigrant community. Listening to so many stories of sacrifice in crossing the border, I decided to travel there and see with my own eyes. What I saw was deeply upsetting, but also surprising, and after traveling back and forth through the borderlands I came to realize that my own preconceptions of the border were false — as is the central myth that hope is in the north. That realization led me to consider a story in which the logic of the border were turned upside down — and to ask the question, what might happen if an Anglo crossed the border — south.

Latinaish: The cinematography of this film was really breathtaking, particularly scenes that took place in Oaxaca, Mexico. Was this shot on location? Can you tell us about that?

DR: Yes, almost all of the film was shot in Mexico, but due to the violence in Tamaulipas (including Nuevo Laredo) we were not able to film along the border. This was a major creative setback as I had spent several years developing close relationships with people in the border city and had every location scouted. In the end we filmed all of the Mexico portion of the story in the state of Oaxaca — much of it in the Istmo, though some in the capital, in addition to the village at the end which is in the Sierra Norte. ‘Re-creating the border’ became the central creative challenge we faced, affecting every department from production design, casting, and wardrobe. The cinematographer is one of the stars of Mexico’s new generation, known for his lyrical work in El Violin.

Latinaish: Which scene was most difficult to capture, either emotionally or physically, and why? What challenges did you face on set?

DR: The most difficult scene… An interesting question. From an emotional standpoint, without a doubt the scene when Rosa realizes her mother has died. From a logistical standpoint, perhaps the nighttime river crossing which I intentionally wanted to film as a baptismal event. Every scene is a challenge, and every challenge is different. More than anything you are battling the lack of time and limited resources, and desperately fighting against compromise. But the Mexican crew and the actors were like a family and we all fought the battle each day together.

Latinaish: I love that the “gringa” in this film, “Ashley”, played by actress Abbie Cornish, spoke Spanish so much of the time, but there was no explanation in the plot as to how the character learned to speak it so well – Can we assume she learned it just by living in southern Texas or from her co-workers? Did the actress, Abbie, already speak Spanish before the film?

DR: You are right, Ashley’s character was a composite of many people I’ve known, and a number of characters I met along the borderlands. Ashley speaks spanish because she has grown up in a Spanish-speaking world in South Texas. But Abbie Cornish didn’t speak a word. I think it’s a great testament to Abbie’s talent and force of character that she was undaunted by the challenge and threw herself into it with total commitment. As she said the first day we met to talk about the project, she didn’t simply want to learn her Spanish dialogues by heart, she wanted to understand the language.

Latinaish: The character “Rosa” played by Maritza Santiago Hernández had a fantastically stubborn personality in the film and I really fell in love with her. Was this her first film? Are there any other projects we can look for her in any time soon?

DR: I too fell in love with Maritza. She is an amazing girl, and yes, this is her first film role. I spent a great deal of time ‘searching for Rosa’ and saw thousands of young girls in communities all over Oaxaca. The casting took more than a year of full time work. I was not looking for a girl who could ‘play’ Rosa — I was looking for Rosa. And when I finally found Maritza I knew I had found her. She needed to be small but very strong, or tough or as you put it ‘stubborn.’ She needed to be full of life and light, but also depth. She needed to be naughty but also thoughtful. And of course she needed to have the indigenous features of the zapotec people in Oaxaca. After the film’s Mexico premiere at the Morelia Film Festival many journalists asked if she wanted to have an acting career. Her answer: ‘first she’ll finish school and become a teacher.’

Latinaish: What do you hope to accomplish with this film? What do you want the audience to take away?

I appreciate the question, as hope is the thing that sustains every storyteller. I hope that the film helps to generate dialogue about what it means to be an American, what it means to be an immigrant today, uprooted and far from home. I hope it helps to re-frame these questions in such a way that real understanding can begin — not through the limited lens of political debate – but in the broadest sense — what is our common humanity? What is it that divides us, and what do we share in common? Of course I know that it is after all only a film, so the goal must be modest. If people enjoy the story, are happy to meet young Maritza and to travel the journey with Ashley, I’m already a happy man.

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