No papers. Sans Papiers. Sin Papeles. The story of many people: living in another country without a visa. But when their skin is brown, it is more noticeable. Immigrants without authorization become third class citizens in that country to which they have arrived. “Immigrant,” becomes a synonymous for poor, uneducated, less-than, undesirable, and even stupid. A misperception, because it takes guts to move to another country without a job, rights, or any other basic guaranties.
Zarco Films’ SIN VISA, gives a light to the humanity of Latino immigrants. Produced and written by Bassam Kassab, and directed by Ana Simões, SIN VISA takes a fresh look to an issue often misrepresented in the media.
While I write this and while you read it, thousands of immigrants will be somewhere in that intent, crossing the border between Mexico and the United States of America. Walking in the desert, running, being chased by patrols or anti-immigrant groups, sexually abused by the Coyotes (the human merchants who get paid to cross people illegally), hungry, afraid, lost, facing death at every step.
Some will be able to reach their destination. But, What happens after they have arrived? What are the specifics of their current struggles? Who is giving voice to their sufferings and victories?
SIN VISA attempts to do that with passion and fervor, in a somewhat uncommon context. SIN VISA tells the story of Marco, an undocumented young man who works to send money to his mother and siblings in Mexico.
His life seems to loop within a cycle of poverty, lack of opportunities, and mistreatment, often from people who hablan Español. As it can be common in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the gay population is large and powerful, a gay couple helps him out, developing an uncommon friendship.
I will tell you how it ends a little later, but first, what is remarkable about this production is that the majority of actors and extras are amateurs, and worked on this film voluntary. Crew members and other professionals also volunteered their work, moved by the relevancy of immigration, and the stories that need to be told. And they did all did a very good job.
Among other situations, it shows what happens to someone without documents when the police stops them or when friends realize they are not US citizens, just to give a couple of examples.
Now and then, one can see just a few limitations in acting and production, but the story is so compelling, the dialogues very real, and the combination of it all well done, that the power of the story and the energy that it exudes takes over, making it a film that leaves you feeling and thinking deeply.
SIN VISA achieves its goal: it raises awareness. It shows that immigrants are people, and that others often mistreat them by ignorance and bigotry.
The end of the film, in my opinion, could have been a little more detailed. Marco may stay in California or he may come back to Mexico. If he goes back, he may never come back. If he comes back, he may never reach his destination, or what else. I would have prefered a little more digging into those possibilities, a little more showing of what happens to a human being when facing such choices, if any. Yet, the film does a great job and I highly recommend that everybody sees it.
I had the film shown to me in exclusive, and I am grateful to the producer for such privilege. Every time shown in a big screen, SIN VISA may come with one or more shorts shown prior to the film; very interesting work as well.
Lluvia Fría. 13 mins. (Cold Rain), is about teenagers, a handgun and bad decisions, by Alex Perdomo. Memorias Perdidas (Lost Memories), also by Perdomo, shows what Alzheimer’s disease can do to a father. Bi.Das, by Kassab, is about a taboo subject in many communities: bisexuality, and how it plays in the life of young men.
Again, this production leaves you feeling and thinking; add to that the fact that it is an independent movie, made with people who did it for the love of it, and the result is a film worth seeing. The films are in Spanish, with English subtitles.
Utilizing the power of social media and with the intention to support the viewing of this film, I am recommending that the person who is reading this, aka you, get your group, organizations or company to have a screening, and a conversation after that. With the producer’s permission, I am sharing his contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org
You may take a look at the trailers: