Sep 18, 2019
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Front Page, Industry News

REVIEWED: Which Way Home

TO411 documentary review
by staff writer Daisy Maclean

It is estimated that over half a million illegal immigrants enter the United States each year, with around 80% of these coming from Mexico and other Latin American countries. It’s not a new issue. It’s not even a little known one. Migrants endure dangerous journeys facing starvation and dehydration, violence at the hands of gangs or corrupt officials, rape, and more often than not, death, just for the chance at a new life in America. Now imagine the migrant is nine years old. 

Which Way Home exposes a unique view of immigration, through the eyes of children as they make their way by themselves north from Guatemala to the Mexico-U.S. border on the tops of freight trains they refer to as “The Beast.” Following an unrealistic dream that they barely understand, fed by images of America from movies and television, the children seek to either find work or be adopted by American women.

While the story arc follows a jaded young boy by the name of Kevin, the lens of director Rebecca Cammissa touches briefly into the lives of several other young children along the way, their stories remaining unfinished as they vanish, untraceable, into the crowds. One of the most powerful segments is an interview with Jose, a ten-year-old Salvadorian boy whose mother left him to find work in the states. Jose was found abandoned by smugglers and taken to the local detention center, his small body shaking with sobs as he tells workers he just wants to see his mommy. How long has she been gone? Three years.

We also meet the family of Rossario, waiting in anguish for the results of a DNA test, his body too far gone to identify him in any other way. Rossario was one of many who die from exposure while trying to walk across the desert into the U.S. without enough food or water to sustain him. While the dangers of the journey are all too apparent to the viewer, the children embrace their odyssey with the innocence and vigor of their youth, treating the beast like a playground, jumping off just to run along side for a while, or standing on top with their arms outstretched in the wind.

Which Way Home is a series of moments strung together. At times, there is a poignant beauty in the passing landscape, captured briefly by the crew as they ride the trains with their subjects. In other moments the film struggles with itself as the crew must decide how great a risk they will take, sometimes having to arrange to meet up with the children at the next city instead of staying with them. This means that often the film has to catch up, as the children relate what happened and who died, or how the police caught them and robbed them. 

The documentary tries to drop us into the center of an intense issue, without pointing too many fingers, but it is pretty clear that a closer look needs to be taken at the immigration and border policies of the United States, a statement that will, more than likely, fall on deaf ears in Washington. It’s a difficult film to watch, not just because of what the children go through, but because of the knowledge that a life in the States may not be any better than the one they are trying to escape from. However, it is an important film to have made because it gives these young unwanted adventurers a voice in a time when America stands so strongly against outsiders, and perhaps their hope will become contagious.

Daisy Maclean will review recently completed documentaries for TO411 Daily – please contact her
for more information: daisy@to411.com. 

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Front Page, Industry News

REVIEWED: Which Way Home

TO411 documentary review
by staff writer Daisy Maclean

It is estimated that over half a million illegal immigrants enter the United States each year, with around 80% of these coming from Mexico and other Latin American countries. It’s not a new issue. It’s not even a little known one. Migrants endure dangerous journeys facing starvation and dehydration, violence at the hands of gangs or corrupt officials, rape, and more often than not, death, just for the chance at a new life in America. Now imagine the migrant is nine years old. 

Which Way Home exposes a unique view of immigration, through the eyes of children as they make their way by themselves north from Guatemala to the Mexico-U.S. border on the tops of freight trains they refer to as “The Beast.” Following an unrealistic dream that they barely understand, fed by images of America from movies and television, the children seek to either find work or be adopted by American women.

While the story arc follows a jaded young boy by the name of Kevin, the lens of director Rebecca Cammissa touches briefly into the lives of several other young children along the way, their stories remaining unfinished as they vanish, untraceable, into the crowds. One of the most powerful segments is an interview with Jose, a ten-year-old Salvadorian boy whose mother left him to find work in the states. Jose was found abandoned by smugglers and taken to the local detention center, his small body shaking with sobs as he tells workers he just wants to see his mommy. How long has she been gone? Three years.

We also meet the family of Rossario, waiting in anguish for the results of a DNA test, his body too far gone to identify him in any other way. Rossario was one of many who die from exposure while trying to walk across the desert into the U.S. without enough food or water to sustain him. While the dangers of the journey are all too apparent to the viewer, the children embrace their odyssey with the innocence and vigor of their youth, treating the beast like a playground, jumping off just to run along side for a while, or standing on top with their arms outstretched in the wind.

Which Way Home is a series of moments strung together. At times, there is a poignant beauty in the passing landscape, captured briefly by the crew as they ride the trains with their subjects. In other moments the film struggles with itself as the crew must decide how great a risk they will take, sometimes having to arrange to meet up with the children at the next city instead of staying with them. This means that often the film has to catch up, as the children relate what happened and who died, or how the police caught them and robbed them. 

The documentary tries to drop us into the center of an intense issue, without pointing too many fingers, but it is pretty clear that a closer look needs to be taken at the immigration and border policies of the United States, a statement that will, more than likely, fall on deaf ears in Washington. It’s a difficult film to watch, not just because of what the children go through, but because of the knowledge that a life in the States may not be any better than the one they are trying to escape from. However, it is an important film to have made because it gives these young unwanted adventurers a voice in a time when America stands so strongly against outsiders, and perhaps their hope will become contagious.

Daisy Maclean will review recently completed documentaries for TO411 Daily – please contact her
for more information: daisy@to411.com. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Front Page, Industry News

REVIEWED: Which Way Home

TO411 documentary review
by staff writer Daisy Maclean

It is estimated that over half a million illegal immigrants enter the United States each year, with around 80% of these coming from Mexico and other Latin American countries. It’s not a new issue. It’s not even a little known one. Migrants endure dangerous journeys facing starvation and dehydration, violence at the hands of gangs or corrupt officials, rape, and more often than not, death, just for the chance at a new life in America. Now imagine the migrant is nine years old. 

Which Way Home exposes a unique view of immigration, through the eyes of children as they make their way by themselves north from Guatemala to the Mexico-U.S. border on the tops of freight trains they refer to as “The Beast.” Following an unrealistic dream that they barely understand, fed by images of America from movies and television, the children seek to either find work or be adopted by American women.

While the story arc follows a jaded young boy by the name of Kevin, the lens of director Rebecca Cammissa touches briefly into the lives of several other young children along the way, their stories remaining unfinished as they vanish, untraceable, into the crowds. One of the most powerful segments is an interview with Jose, a ten-year-old Salvadorian boy whose mother left him to find work in the states. Jose was found abandoned by smugglers and taken to the local detention center, his small body shaking with sobs as he tells workers he just wants to see his mommy. How long has she been gone? Three years.

We also meet the family of Rossario, waiting in anguish for the results of a DNA test, his body too far gone to identify him in any other way. Rossario was one of many who die from exposure while trying to walk across the desert into the U.S. without enough food or water to sustain him. While the dangers of the journey are all too apparent to the viewer, the children embrace their odyssey with the innocence and vigor of their youth, treating the beast like a playground, jumping off just to run along side for a while, or standing on top with their arms outstretched in the wind.

Which Way Home is a series of moments strung together. At times, there is a poignant beauty in the passing landscape, captured briefly by the crew as they ride the trains with their subjects. In other moments the film struggles with itself as the crew must decide how great a risk they will take, sometimes having to arrange to meet up with the children at the next city instead of staying with them. This means that often the film has to catch up, as the children relate what happened and who died, or how the police caught them and robbed them. 

The documentary tries to drop us into the center of an intense issue, without pointing too many fingers, but it is pretty clear that a closer look needs to be taken at the immigration and border policies of the United States, a statement that will, more than likely, fall on deaf ears in Washington. It’s a difficult film to watch, not just because of what the children go through, but because of the knowledge that a life in the States may not be any better than the one they are trying to escape from. However, it is an important film to have made because it gives these young unwanted adventurers a voice in a time when America stands so strongly against outsiders, and perhaps their hope will become contagious.

Daisy Maclean will review recently completed documentaries for TO411 Daily – please contact her
for more information: daisy@to411.com. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

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