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The Crossfire Kids documentary was worth it






Like New York in 1900, Miami is a city bustling with foreigners, where most people are from another country.

Immigrants from lower income backgrounds crowd into Hialeah casitas, take jobs at cafes and construction sites, and squeak out a hardscrabble living. Newcomers of higher means scoop up condos on Brickell and South Beach with flight capital. Their kids drive Porsches and BMWs, and revel in the safety of a relatively kidnap-free metropolis. Everyone else rests somewhere in the middle: striving, scheming, surviving, dreaming.

No other American city makes a better backdrop for a documentary about immigration.

For the last two years, I’ve been watching the debate over immigration reform and the sad fate of that legislation. Being the Miami-born son of immigrants, I appreciate the positive contribution that immigrants bring to the United States, and how critical a role they play in the health of our national economy and our future. We like to think we are a humane country, but the way the United States treats their immigrants, particularly those from Latin American countries, is appalling. United States policy is to separate families, detain parents for months without trials, and fill a detention quota so that private companies can continue to profit from the misfortune of the poorest and humblest among us.

     We want to put a human face on the immigration issue unfolding in this country. So often, people speak in generalities about immigrants. We wanted to look past the stereotypes and bring audiences into the homes and lives of immigrants caught in the political crossfire over immigration reform. It’s no surprise that many of the leaders of the youth movement for immigration reform are based out of Miami. This is a city that offers a future to people from everywhere, where immigrants feel comfortable, build lives, and pursue their version of the American dream. I want this documentary to show audiences that young immigrants are not villains. On the contrary, they are the fresh blood in our national narrative, and the living proof that this country is still a beacon of hope. We must help them as a country, not try to destroy them, as the United States is currently doing.

     The Crossfire Kids is the second documentary film that we release through PBS. The first was Tom Wolfe Gets Back to Blood, about the famous American author. 

The films are stylistically very different. We shot Tom Wolfe with a Sony HDR-FX1, one of the first HDV camcorders, and one of Canon’s first Vixias, the venerable though tiny HV 20. The Crossfire Kids was shot mostly on DSLRs like the Canon 5d Mark ii and the Canon 7D. We have since moved on from that to work mostly with Canon C100 and C300 cinema lines. You live, you learn, you grow. Tom Wolfe had a lot of action dialogue. Crossfire Kids is mostly filmed interviews covered with action b-Roll.

I recognize that my knowledge of filmmaking is always growing and evolving. Telling stories has some constants, and learning is one of them. If I didn’t learn anything while shooting and making this film, then my audience won’t care, and honestly, I wouldn’t either. If you get a chance to see The Crossfire Kids, please take a moment to send me your thoughts and feedback.

“This travel, this trip, it changed my life,” says Honduran immigrant Oscar Turcios, an unaccompanied minor, in the film. This film changed me as well. Below are some stills from the film.


Photos Below: Donatila, Oscar, Brenda, Shamir, Frida, Miguel

Donatella AIJ Film CUT AUGUST 30 010945;06 Oscar AIJ Film CUT AUGUST 30 012224;24 Brenda AIJ Film CUT AUGUST 30 011318;15 Shamir AIJ Film CUT AUGUST 30 010120;18 Frida 1 AIJ Film CUT AUGUST 30 012746;20 Miguel



  • by admin
  • posted at 11:18 am
  • October 13, 2014

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