Aquí y Allá

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!

Image source: Antonio Méndez Esparza - All Rights Reserved

Image source: Antonio Méndez Esparza – All Rights Reserved

A veces veo una película o un documental, que me deja sin palabras – Aquí y Allá es una de ellas. Es difícil decir lo que pienso o siento por esta película. Es devastador, inquietantemente bella, me dolía el alma. Siendo muy honesta, la noche que vi la película, yo lloré hasta que me quede dormida, pensando en ella.

Aquí y Allá es parte ficción, parte realidad. Es la historia de inmigración contada desde el otro lado, cuando un mexicano regresa a México, a su familia. Pedro de los Santos, la estrella de la película, interpreta a sí mismo, y muchas de las cosas que le pasaron a él, fueron reales. La mujer que interpreta a su esposa, es en realidad su esposa. La música que canta, es música que él escribió. (Y aparte de la película, su música, su voz, son realmente muy hermosas.)

Siento que mis palabras no pueden hacer justicia a esta película. Sólo mírala, si tienes la oportunidad. (Averigüe dónde puede verla aquí.)

[ENGLISH TRANSLATION]

Sometimes I see a film or a documentary that leaves me without words – Aquí y Allá is one of them. It’s hard to say what I think or feel about this film. It’s devastating, hauntingly beautiful, it hurt my soul. To be perfectly honest, I cried myself to sleep thinking of the film the night that I saw it.

Aquí y Allá is part fiction, part reality. It’s the immigration story told from the other side, when a Mexican returns to Mexico, to his family. Pedro de los Santos, the star of the movie, plays himself, and many of the things that happen to him, happened for real. The woman who plays his wife, is actually his wife. The music he sings, is music that he wrote. (And apart from the film, his music, his voice, are really very beautiful.)

I feel that my words can not do justice to this film. Just watch it, if you get the chance. (Find out where you can see it here.)

Xenophobia and The Boston Bombings

foreigner_latinaish

The Boston marathon bombings – I didn’t think I would be writing about this, but here I am. Like most of you, I’ve been watching way too much TV, reading too many articles on the internet, and when torn away from those, listening to the radio in my car. Like most of you, I’ve had a lot of feelings the past few days on many different angles of this tragedy.

Tonight, the second suspect has been captured and it’s “over” … and yet it isn’t. I hear my fellow Americans chanting, “USA! USA! USA!” … and it seems somehow inappropriate. I understand relief. I understand pride in our first responders. I understand feeling some sense of justice or closure – but the all-out celebration, taking to the streets like revelers on New Year’s Eve? I can’t connect with it.

Those who died, are still dead; those who are mourning, are still mourning; those who are injured, are still injured. Those innocent people who were mistakenly caught up in the investigation, are still dealing with the resulting emotional damage. The young suspect in custody, if he survives, will face a long trial, all of which we will once again watch as if it’s some sort of sick reality show/telenovela hybrid.

After everything is said and done, we are left with scars – and some of those scars were inflicted on our society by the media, by irresponsible journalists. The use of racial profiling and the xenophobic language exhibited by journalists of networks I once respected, has disgusted me. It’s as if the journalists salivated at the idea that the suspects might be Muslim, as if that explains everything, when that fact alone explains nothing. That is why I’m writing this – It’s why I created a video – because at first, I couldn’t find words.

Maybe you’re not Muslim – most people who read my blog are not. Maybe you’re saying, “What does this have to do with me?” – Believe me, it has everything to do with all of us. The sentiments stirred up by the media, intentionally or unintentionally, are not only anti-Muslim, they are anti-“foreigner”, anti-brown person, anti-accent, anti-bilingualism, anti-immigrant. They are sentiments that divide and quite frankly, we’re better than this as a people, as a nation, and we deserve better than this from our news agencies.

If you agree with me, please consider sharing this video far and wide.

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.

Links:

DavidRikersTheGirl.com
The Girl on Facebook
The Girl on Twitter

Películas Clasicas Mexicanas

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 is in italics!

¿Te gustan las películas clasicas mexicanas? Aquí están algunas de mis escenas favoritas. ¿Cuáles son tus favoritas?

Do you like classic Mexican movies? Here are some of my favorite scenes. Which are your favorites?

Poker de Reinas – Corazón de Melón

Pedro Infante – Escuela de Vagabundos – Cucurrucucú Paloma

Pedro Infante – Carta a Eufemia

A Toda Máquina – Gringuita – Pedro Infante y Luis Aguilar

Los Tres Garcias – Pedro Infante

Los Tres Garcias – Pedro Infante, Abel Salazar, Víctor Manuel Mendoza, Sara García & Marga López

Jorge Negrete – Huapango Ranchero

Cantinflas – Por Mis Pistolas

I invited Bob

I’m on the sofa watching TV with the family; Carlos has been changing the channels between a Manchester United game, bullfighting and a Jackie Chan movie translated to Spanish, (La Leyenda del Maestro Borrachón.) Somewhere in between all that I caught a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial en español which was so hilarious that I had to drop in here and share it.

Kudos to the people who came up with this commercial – Me encanta!

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored or paid post and I do not necessarily endorse KFC – I just like this commercial.

La Llorona coming to televisions across the United States

Do you know the Latin American folktale (or is it true?) called La Llorona? (The Weeping Woman.)

For those not familiar, here is the story of La Llorona.

Although several variations exist, the basic story tells of a beautiful woman by the name of Maria killing her children by drowning them in order to be with the man that she loved. The man would not have her, which devastated her. She would not take no for an answer, so he slit her throat and threw her body in a lake in Mexico. Challenged at the gates of heaven as to the whereabouts of her children, she is not permitted to enter the afterlife until she has found them. Maria is forced to wander the Earth for all eternity, searching in vain for her drowned offspring, with her constant weeping giving her the name “La Llorona”.

In some versions of this tale and legend, La Llorona will kidnap wandering children who resemble her missing children, or children who disobey their parents. People who claim to have seen her say she appears at night or in the late evenings from rivers or oceans in Mexico. Some believe that those who hear the wails of La Llorona are marked for death, similar to the Gaelic banshee legend. She is said to cry “Ay, mis hijos!” which translates to “Oh, my children!

Function of the story in society

Typically, the legend serves as a cautionary tale on several levels. Parents will warn their children that bad behavior will cause La Llorona to abduct them, and that being outside after dark will result in her visitation. The tale also warns young women not to be enticed by status, wealth, material goods, or by men who make declarations of love or lavish promises.

- Source: Wikipedia.

Well, this Friday’s episode of Grimm is about La Llorona. The show Grimm is an American TV drama series which is described as “a cop drama—with a twist… a dark and fantastical project about a world in which characters inspired by Grimms’ Fairy Tales exist.”

This clip features Grimm stars Bitsie Tulloch (Juliette Silverton), David Giuntoli (Nick Burkhardt), Russell Hornsby (Hank Griffin.) Guests cast in this episode include Bertila Damas as “Pilar” and David Barrera as “Luis Alvarez.”

Kate del Castillo (of “La Reina del Sur” fame), is also in this episode!

Grimm airs Fridays at 9 pm ET on NBC. This particular episode will air on NBC on Friday, October 26th at 9 pm ET. There will also be special airings, in Spanish on Telemundo at 11:35 pm ET on October 29th and in English on mun2 at 1 am ET on Saturday, October 27th.

Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll watch because this kind of stuff freaks me out. I will probably have a week’s worth of pesadillas just from watching these videos here. Do you think you’ll tune in?

PBS Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

PBS is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th to October 15th with some programming you might want to go mark on your calendar!

Title: EL VELADOR (The Night Watchman)
Date: September 27th 2012 / 10:00-11:00 PM ET
Description: “Stand guard with Martin, who watches over the extravagant mausoleums of notorious Mexican drug lords.”

Preview:

Title: HAVANA, HAVANA!
Date: July 27th 2012 / 9:00-10:00 PM ET
Description: “Tap your toes to the beat of this music documentary, which vibrates with the soul and energy of African-Cuban drummers, guajira guitarists and the pulsing melodies of celebrated Cuban musician Raul Paz, who brings together fellow musical stars Descemer Bueno, Kelvis Ochoa and David Torrens for a concert in Havana…”

Preview:

Title: BIBLIOBURRO: The Donkey Library
Date: Check local listings
Description: “A decade ago, Colombian grade-school teacher Luis Soriano was inspired to spend his weekends bringing a modest collection of precious books, via two hard-working donkeys, to the children of Magdalena Province’s poor and violence-ridden interior. As Soriano braves armed bands, drug traffickers, snakes and heat, his library on hooves carries an inspirational message about education and a better future for Colombia.”

Preview:

TALES OF MASKED MEN
Date: September 28th 2012 / 10:00-11:00 PM ET
Description: “…the fascinating, mysterious world of lucha libre and its role in Latino communities in the United States, Mexico and Latin America…”

Preview:

Other programming to check your local listings for:

NOT IN OUR TOWN: LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS
Description: “Witness the efforts of villagers to confront anti-immigrant bias and repair the fabric of community life.”

MARIACHI HIGH
Description: “Spend a year in the life of the champion mariachi ensemble at Zapata High School in South Texas.”

And more!