09/12/12 – On Saturday, September 8, the Trans-Border Institute (TBI) hosted the screening of the film “Al otro lado” (“To the Other Side”) as part of the border region film series, “Ambulante Border: New Perspectives on Gun Policy, Arms Trafficking, Violence and Immigration, Freedom of Expression, and Violence Towards Journalists.”
Produced and directed by Natalia Almada, the 2005 documentary narrates the story of 23-year-old Magdiel, a Mexican fisherman that dreams of having a better a life. Through Magdiel’s story, the movie shows that the reason many Mexicans want to migrate to the United States is for a better future–for the opportunities to study and to improve their economic conditions by finding better-paying jobs–even if it means crossing illegally.
Not only does the film focus on immigration, it weaves in topics of drug-trafficking and day-to-day realities that many Mexicans face. Given the economic hardships and lack of opportunity present for many Mexicans, and the difficulties one endures if attempting to cross the border, the movie shows that many turn to drug trafficking as a source of income and resources to solve their financial problems. This ever-present reality in Mexico is often captured in the popular “corridos,” a type of Mexican music that has embraced the narco-lifestyle and that narrates, for example, the stories of average Mexicans struggling to survive and to overcome financial hardships, even if that means crossing the border without documents or drug trafficking. The film relies on such “corridos” to help tell their story, as well as showcase their importance in Mexican culture and the influence that drug-trafficking has had on this genre of music and thus on Mexican culture.
In sum, “Al otro lado” explores these broader topics of immigration, economic hardships, drug trafficking, and “corridos” through its protagonist, Magdiel.