First up was CROCODILE GENNADIY. Taking his name from a popular Soviet cartoon, "Crocodile" Gennadiy Mokhnenko is a self-appointed vigilante in his Ukrainian town of Mariupol. His mission there is to get kids off drugs, and if that means kidnapping them off the streets and locking them in his Pilgrim Republic rehab facility, so be it. It's a kind of tough love where the love is really evident and the toughness is...well, it's just part of life there. Local authorities pretty much let him do his thing (if not helping him directly) and he's viewed mostly as a good guy who cuts through the ineffective bureaucracy and doesn't ask permission to do the right thing. There are detractors, especially when he gets more famous and people question whether he's just doing this for self-aggrandizement. But at least in the movie he's portrayed as mostly positive, if kind of a blunt instrument taking on the problem.
Then a short and a feature about illegal immigration, starting with the animated short EL COYOTE. It's the brief story of a "coyote"--a man who smuggles people across the border. Pretty interesting.
And that was the lead-in to NO LE DIGAS A NADIE (DON'T TELL ANYONE,) the story of Angy Rivera. She's the daughter of a mother who entered the U.S. illegally with her. So she is also undocumented, although her younger siblings are U.S. Citizens. Growing up, she was always taught not to talk about her status. And she eventually decides to reject that advice and "come out" as "Undocumented and Proud." The parallels (at least in the rhetoric) to the gay rights movement are interesting and unavoidable, but also something they don't really talk about. But she does make for a compelling character and the film makes a strong point that undocumented immigrants remaining in the shadows doesn't help the cause of immigration reform. Her story also highlights some of the fucked-up aspects of immigration law. Not just how it can tear families apart (e.g., if she and her mother are deported, her little siblings might stay behind in the U.S. and enter foster care.) But also--and this blows my mind--the fact that she was abused by her mother's boyfriend in the U.S. actually gives her a special status. Victims of serious crimes in the U.S., if they cooperate with the police, can apply for a special legal immigrant status. And (spoiler alert) she gets that. And is a little conflicted about it. Not just because of how fucked-up it is that that's how she gets her legal status, but also I think because being "Undocumented and Proud" had become part of her identity, and now she's...documented and still proud. And studying in college and hopefully well on her way to helping fix our fucked up immigration laws.
Total Running Time: 184 minutes
My Total Minutes: 400,245