Last night, I had the privilege of attending the California premiere of the documentary, “Los Que Se Quedan” (“Those Who Remain.”) The film, by Carlos Hagerman and Juan Carlos Rulfo, follows nine families in six different states in México for 11 months, and tells the story of the people who are left behind after their loved ones migrate to the United States.
I think most of the people who packed the Tower Theater last night related in some way to the film it. I know I did.
As I watched the film, I couldn’t help but think of a friend I met while working for a community newspaper in Northern Virginia. He had emigrated from Honduras and, as we became closer, he told me about the daughter he had not seen for four years. I was so interested to discover what he left behind in his country, and why he left, that I convinced my traveling companion to join me on a weeklong trip to Honduras.
In July 2008, we flew into San Pedro Sula airport, and my friend’s ex-wife and eight-year old daughter met us at the airport. My friend had packed a Hannah Montana backpack full of gifts for his daughter, and I happily handed it over to his daughter. When we got to their house, his daughter showed me her bedroom, where she had pictures of my friend throwing snowballs in Virginia. She showed me the artwork she’d created, and I snapped photos of her displaying her masterpieces, to show my friend when I returned to Virginia.
My companion and I then spent a week being tourists in the Central American country, but the hours we spent with my friend’s daughter and ex-wife were some of the most memorable and impactful moments of my trip. More than a year after that trip to Honduras, I still gaze at a photo of my friend’s daughter and I, which is posted in my cubicle at work. It reminds me of people’s powerful and personal stories – the types of stories I want to write as a reporter.
I don’t normally blog about personal experiences, but I think the power of “Los Que Se Quedan” is that it humanizes the story of migration, and reminds people of their personal experiences with migration. If you saw the documentary last night, I would love to hear about your reaction. Please feel free to comment and review the film in the space below.
A story about the movie, including an interview with director Carlos Hagerman, will be published in next week’s edition of Vida. Below is trailer for the film, which opens Oct. 30 in México.