Silverdocs - "The Infinite Border" - June 20, 2008
Along the lines of my One-on-One Q&A with My Life Inside director Lucia Gajá, I saw another film at Silverdocs that dealt with the similar theme of illegal immigration to the U.S. called The Infinite Border, directed by Juan Manuel Sepulveda, who spoke to the audience after the screening of his film.
Sepulveda: We always explained that we were not with a major broadcast company? We are not getting rich making this film. We only want to hear from them about their travels. The first day always we came without any equipment. The second day, we always gave them the release and told them they have to sign in order to get permission to film them. We constructed relationships with them and that’s why they trusted us.
Q: What motivated you to do this film?
Sepulveda: As a Mexican filmmaker, and as a Mexican, I related about immigration. We are a country that’s a transit country that supports a lot of migrants and give exile to a lot of migrants. We all have histories about migrants with our families and friends.
Q: What did you have to go through physically to make the film? Where did you sleep? How about the weather?
Sepulveda: At the beginning, we tried to follow them always and be with them. I made the migration travel a lot of times alone with a little camera when I was developing and raising money for the film. We realized with major equipment, the cameras and a sound engineer; it would be dangerous for them. We preferred to make the film in the places they rested and waited, not in the traveling sites. We slept in hotels. We traveled in a van.
Q: How did you select the routes?
Sepulveda: We selected the most natural routes the migrants chose. There are two major routes – the Pacific and the Mayan routes. They are very defined routes. There were lots of shelters that were always providing service.
Q: What’s the opinion of the people riding all of the trains they hopped onto?
Sepulveda: They don’t forbid these people to take the trains. Someone always was giving permission. There’s no major problem.
Q: When you edited the film, were there certain personalities that you omitted?
Sepulveda: We tried to get as many in. We always see the migrants as victims. As a documentary filmmaker, you must see them as a very complicated, complex human and not only a victim. A lot of people act like a victim. They know what we want to hear. Those kinds of characters were out of the final selection.
Q: What has the reaction been from audiences on this film in Mexico? Has there been any political reaction?
Sepulveda: A lot of people ask me what the government and police think about this film. I don’t know what they think. There were several screenings in Mexico City and major film festivals. The reaction is very diverse. You have people who related very much to immigration and said they feel this time passing. There are other people who don’t like the film very much because they say it’s like a picnic; you don’t talk about the policies that apply in Mexico.
Q: Since you’ve made this film, have you heard if any of the people in it have made it to the U.S.?
Sepulveda: We always gave them our email address and asked them to write us to tell us where they are, but unfortunately no one wrote us. I would be very glad to know what happened.
Q: How did you come about the visual tone in the film?
Sepulveda: The first thing I wanted to transmit is the feeling of the density of time for a migrant. The migrant isn’t the friend or the enemy, it’s time. I want the audience to feel the weight of time. I decided to make a lot of long shots in order to get that.