An experimental documentary about a Chicano filmmaker escorting his Mexican grandmother from Tijuana to Orange County California; the place she was intimated into leaving 85 years ago during the U.S. sponsored "Repatriation Movement". Through this emotional journey the grandson learns about his grandmother’s struggle to validate the memories of a history that is being erased, and that his homeland is not Mexico… it’s California.
Interview with Writer/Director Rafael Flores
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Given the current political climate and the efforts of the Trump administration to deport massive amounts of Mexicans from the United States, I was inspired to finish this film, which I started making 6 years ago. Beyond that, the star of my film, Leonor Gonzalez (my grandmother) who is now turning 92 years old, and she hopes to share her story with the world before she dies.
Leonor Gonzalez represents a generation of American-born Mexicans who were forced out of the country during a moment in history that many people are ignorant of. I hope that this film can help people realize that is terrible part of American history has not only happened more than once, but can potentially occur in the near future.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
You should watch this film because no film has ever been made about this topic before. Many people do not know anything about the American Repatriation of thousands of Mexicans, or that it happened unconstitutionally to many families. Beyond that, it is an American-Mexican-Canadian co-production that was shot on the Tijuana-San Diego border and features United States Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. It is a creative documentary that features unseen photos, videos and poetry from world-renowned Chicano poets.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
“A Mi Matria” is a highly personal film for me, since it is a story about how my Chicano family was intimidated and forced out of our homeland. This is a film that has a universal appeal since many immigrants worldwide are currently experiencing similar anti-immigrant movements globally. More importantly, this film is universally appealing because it is a testament to the determination and survival of a single mother who endured abuse and poverty so that her children could fight for their piece of the “American Dream”.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
Over the course of 6 years, the story had to be adapted to reflect the current anti-immigrant sentiments of the United States, along with the restoration of important historical photos, which were discovered in my family archive. What’s more we decided to include poetry from prominent Chicano poet, Juan Felipe Herrera, who recently completed his term as National Poet Laureate for the United States.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
I have received positive feedback this far, especially from the Latino community who want to see more stories that reflect our experience. Beyond that, every person I have shown it to has felt charmed by the eccentric character of my grandmother, and the inspired by the poetic approach to the documentary.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The feedback so far has not surprised or challenged me. If anything, most people who see the film are shocked because they had no idea that this happened in the past, and that history seems to repeating itself. If anything, I hope that more people get to see the film if it is distributed or featured in other festivals so audiences can learn more about this important historical perspective.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I am hoping to have distribution companies, film festivals or potential investors express interest in working with myself, and the organizations I represent. We have lots of creative content focused on issues that are not represented in the mainstream, and we hope that people see value in our work.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We primarily need sales agents, distributors and potential investors to come on board so we can expand the work we do. However, any publicity is also much appreciated to help us promote our work and reach a larger audience.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would like my work to inspire other Chicano and Latino directors to share their stories with the world. I also hope that this particular film can reach influential people who can make a difference by helping us fight for a more equitable society, one that does not marginalize immigrants, deport them to war-torn countries or put them in prisons to make a profit.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Should Mexicans be considered immigrants in the United States if their homeland is the United States? Are we going to let history repeat itself and deportations destroy families?
Would you like to add anything else?
I would like to thank .wearemovingstories.com for the opportunity to share my story, and the Cannes Film Festival for accepting “A Mi Matria” and making my grandmother’s dying wish come true. She will now live forever.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
Film Title: “La Reconquista de Aztlan” (“The Reconquest”)
A post-apocalyptic story about an immigrant couple that escapes a concentration camp in the American Southwest in the year 2050. As they travel north, they inspire a national revolution to liberate slaves from a fascist American government.
Length: 120 min
Director: Rafael Flores
Writer: Rafael Flores
About the writer, director and producer:
Writer/Director: Rafael Flores is an award-winning writer and director based in California. He teaches film production and theory at San Francisco State University. His work has been praised by: The White House, The Grammy Foundation, TED-X, The Writer’s Guild, The London Guardian, and The Chicano International Film Festival.
Key cast: Leonor Gonzalez
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Sales Agents, Buyers, Distributors, and Investors
Social media handles:
Instagram: dropping_gems @ Instagram,
Interview: May 2017
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
A Mi Matria
Feat. Rigoberto Gonzalez and Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S.A. Poet Laureate
Duration: 27 Minutes
Written and Directed: Rafael Flores
Director of Photography: Stefan Ruenzel