Sunday, November 05, 2006

Puro Mexicano Tuscon Film Festival

Film, Coffee and Tequila

There are so many things I am enjoying about Tucson. Gorgeous blue sky, stunning sunsets, varied landscape, friendly people and cultural diversity.

It is a funny place for the latter, in a sense. A long-time red state, I’ve noted a divide in Arizonans' relationships with
our neighbors to the south. Appropriately, illegal immigration is a hot topic at the Puro Mexicano Film Festival this weekend.

(Apologies in advance, for I dain to wax slightly political once again… alcohol and politics make amicable bedfellows, afterall…)

I am a daughter of immigrants, the first American in my family. Granted, my parents came from Europe and entered the country legally, in 1964. However, I feel compassion for the people crossing into the United States from Mexico in search of the same shining ideal… that elusive illusion referred to as “The American Dream.”

Yesterday’s Film Festival highlight, Al Otro Lado, is a documentary covering this controversial subject. Already having received acclaim at the Los Angeles Film Festival, the New York International Latino Film Festival, and the Tribeca Film Festival, Al Otro Lado is the story of an aspiring “corrido” (storytelling song) composer who faces two choices to better his life: traffic drugs or cross the border illegally with the help of “coyotes” (human traffickers).

The film’s director, Natalia Almada does a beautiful job of sharing insight into the motivations of Mexican nationals torn between inescapable poverty in their own country, and leaving their families and risking their lives for the chance to clean our houses, do our gardening and repair our swimming pools.

A short film screened in the same sitting, called Just Coffee provides one solution to dealing with illegal immigration. Just Coffee is a company who pays ‘just’ wages to Mexicans to raise coffee beans for a living, allowing them to stay in their towns and afford a comfortable life. The workers even receive part ownership in the company. To support this innovative organization, buy your next brew from their website.

After the films, a elegant reception called Vamos A Tucson celebrated alliances between Tucson and the Mexican state of Sonora, just below Cochise County. Zivaz Mexican Bistro served up mouth-watering carnitas, pollo en rajas and carne asada and Jose Cuervo Tradicional (straight up with a squeeze of lime) was the damn-delicious sipping tequila of the evening.

(Any wonder why I'm enjoying Tucson?)

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