Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New Documentary Explores Humanitarian Response to U.S.-Mexico cross-border migration

In “Of Human Bondage,” his classic exploration of aspiration and servitude, W. Somerset Maugham wrote that poverty exposes one to endless humiliation, cuts one’s wings, and eats into the soul like a cancer. And yet, Maugham continues, “It is not wealth one asks for, but just enough to preserve one’s dignity, to work unhampered, to be generous, frank and independent.”

Maugham was in fact writing about artists, but application to the economic migrant can readily be seen. How intriguing it is, then, that a new documentary film just beginning production proposes to integrate those two realms of human endeavor.

“The Art of Survival,” helmed by experienced filmmaker and UC Davis law graduate Bryce Newell, will examine social and political controversies surrounding cross-border migration, but primarily as background and context for its primary focus: humanitarian response to the migration, and most notably the artistic expression and activity that is emerging from the front lines of the migration. Newell has organized an impressive list of interview subjects, including scholars, playwrights, visual artists, poets and digital media visionaries.

Reaching well beyond politics, this full-length documentary film will go deep into the heart of an unusual and fascinating humanitarian response to U.S.-Mexico cross-border migration: a high-risk, highly mobile and highly sophisticated network of volunteers from the north side of the border that is caching water supplies, distributing recycled cell phones running encrypted GPS trail-finding software, even sending transmissions of haiku poetry— to keep migrants from dying in the desert.

Though the film’s producers have secured 501(c)3 tax status for the film and are pursuing arts-grant funding, a timely production launch requires “jumpstart” funds from other sources— meaning, individuals and organizations with “personal” and/or political commitment to the project. They have posted extensive information about the film and a funding mechanism (powered by Kickstarter.com) on the film’s website, www.humanitarianfilm.org. All donations of $1 or more are appreciated, and those making donations of at least $10 will receive copies of the completed film before it is available to the public.



Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink

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