SYNOPSIS As the United States continues to build a wall between itself and Mexico, Which Way Home shows the personal side of immigration through the eyes of children who face harrowing dangers with enormous courage and resourcefulness as they endeavor to make it to the United States. The film follows several unaccompanied child migrants as they journey through Mexico en route to the U.S. on a freight train they call “The Beast.” Director Rebecca Cammisa (Sister Helen) tracks the stories of children like Olga and Freddy, nine-year-old Hondurans who are desperately trying to reach their families in Minnesota, and Jose, a ten-year-old El Salvadoran who has been abandoned by smugglers and ends up alone in a Mexican detention center, and focuses on Kevin, a canny, streetwise 14-year-old Honduran, whose mother hopes that he will reach New York City and send money back to his family. These are stories of hope and courage, disappointment and sorrow. They are the ones you never hear about – the invisible ones. (http://whichwayhome.net/about.html) The trailer is available here.
Dr. Stephany Slaughter is an associate professor of Spanish in the Modern Language Department at Alma College in Michigan where she teaches classes related to language, literature, and culture of Latin America, and pursues research in gender studies; cultural studies; Latin American (especially Mexican) film, theater, performance; borders and immigration; and representations of the Mexican Revolution.
Dr. Slaughter is an active writer. Here are a few examples of her many publications: she co-edited an anthology titled Representación y fronteras: El performance en los límites del género and composed a chapter for that same anthology titled “Entre las palabras y el cuerpo: estratégias performáticas en las obras de Guillermo Gómez-Peña.” She has published numerous articles, among them these recent three: “(In)visibilities, (De)humanizations and Globalizations: The Migrant Body in Border Film of the 2000s,” “Queering the Memory of the Mexican Revolution: Cabaret as a Space for Contesting National Memory,” and “Transnational Zapata: From the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional to Immigrant Marches.” Her forthcoming article is called “Monstrous femininity and heroic masculinity: El Santo vs Las mujeres vampiro”; that article will be published in an anthology dedicated to Mexican horror films.
In 2010 Dr. Slaughter won an Emmy for her work as a field producer on Which Way Home, the Oscar nominated and Emmy Award winning feature documentary that we have just seen. As a field producer, Dr. Slaughter helped set up shots, requested interviews, spoke with detained minors, did on-site translating, and conducted research on immigration and cultural representations of immigration.
Audience members shared many comments and asked questions of Dr. Slaughter, among them:
- This Documentary brakes my heart. I imagine my son on the train in the hope of helping his mother.
- Did the original concept for the documentary remain the same during the filming?
- Is this travel to the border and beyond typical for those kids?
- How many children die along the way?
- How many are sent back home?
- I am struck by the optimism of the children, but not surprised. Of all the dangers they face, it seems that the emotional toll, if they survive, is the most difficult. Your thoughts Dr. Slaughter?
- What policies do you see that need to change in order to address this issue?
- Where/how did you find participants for this documentary?
- Are there any updates on the children filmed? Where are they now?
- Are there any avenues or services for these children who get to the US and end up in shelters to find family connections?