The border region between the United States and Mexico is a rich and dynamic region with more than just drugs, corruption and immigration, said Paul Espinosa at the campus showing of his documentary The Border Thursday night.
“The region is poorly understood, especially in the national picture. It is pictured in a negative way as a dangerous region that you wouldn’t want to go to,” said Espinosa, an internationally known independent filmmaker. “What I am trying to do is present an alternative view, or version of the region, through an outpouring of stories that focus on other things.”
Espinosa has been involved with producing films and documentaries for over 20 years. He produces films primarily for public television and most of his films focus on the U.S.-Mexico border and Latino issues. Among the awards won by Espinosa are eight Emmys, five Golden Eagle awards, two Ohio State Awards, a Golden Mike Award, two Blue Ribbons and a Red Ribbon from the American Film Festival.
The Border is a documentary film made by Espinosa a number of years ago for public television. The film tells six stories that cover the region from Texas to Baja, California and deals with issues such as the Mexican-American War, school segregation, land-grabbing, migration and immigration.
The beginning of Espinosa’s film explores the Mexican-American War and shows how the land that once belonged to the Mexicans, including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah, ended up becoming part of the United States and transforming the continent in 1848.
“We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us,” Espinosa said. “Many (Mexicans) were made to feel like foreigners in their native land.”
Espinosa’s film also shows how the United States dealt with the growing migration of Mexicans in the 1930s by attempting to segregate schools. The film specifically highlights a legal battle that occurred in Lemon Grove, California, where a school board voted to segregate Mexicans into a separate school.
“It’s the best way to Americanize them,” said a schoolboard member in the film’s reenactment of the decision. “They’d like it. They wouldn’t have to work so hard to keep up.”
The film also spotlights the migration of Mexican workers to the United States. It explains how the United States draws Mexican workers over the border in hopes of higher wages and better living.
But Mexicans are not the only ones who migrate toward the border, the film explained. A group called the “Snow Texans” migrates south of the border in order to escape the winter weather. Joining them are “snowbirds” from the northern states, including Michigan, New Mexico and Iowa. Many of them end up at the same destination, Fun in the Sun, a retirement community right on the border.
“It’s our winter playground,” said one of the retirees from north of the border.
According to the film, Fun in the Sun seeking retirees are not the only ones who end up at the border. Mexican farm workers also migrate to the border looking to make $15,000 or less a year.
The film goes on to explore the distribution of land around the border region. The film contains interviews from several Mexicans who have been fighting to get ancestral land back.
For more information on Paul Espinosa visit http://www.espinosaproductions.com/ or for more information on The Border visit http://www.pbs.org .