Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Lost & Found in Mexico

Another documentary featured at this year’s LALIFF is Lost & Found in Mexico. I had mixed feelings about this mostly talking head documentary about expatriates, or U.S. immigrants, who retire in San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato Mexico. On the one hand, I appreciate first-time filmmaker, Caren Cross’ film debut. The film is technically proficient – well edited, great music, beautiful cinematography, etc. I also appreciate the real subject of her film, which is about people who, after decades of chasing the American Dream, find themselves exhausted, and their life empty and meaningless, despite all their material wealth and success. This is certainly a subject worth discussing, and the film was insightful in this manner.

However, on the other hand, I was disappointed to learn that the U.S. immigrants living in Mexico keep to themselves and have no real relationships with their new paisanos, (countrymen/women) except one woman who married a Mexican man. In fact, though the film is completely shot in Mexico, Mexican people have no voice; yet their rich, vibrant culture, reflected in the colors, music, etc., serve only as background and b-roll in the film. There are no real scenes in this film.

Furthermore, with the immigration issue being such a heated debated in this country, one cannot help but to draw parallels between the immigrants coming from Mexico, and emigrants living in Mexico. One of the chief complaints in this tumultuous debate is that immigrants don’t assimilate into mainstream American society, and here it’s obvious that Americans in Mexico don’t assimilate either. This point was confirmed at the Q&A with the filmmaker.

That Americans are leaving the country and moving south of border in not new. It is a growing trend. Americans are not just moving to Mexico but to all parts of Latin America. Luckily for the U.S. Americans, Latin Americans are far more welcoming than their U.S. counterparts. This is a timely documentary and has screened at numerous festivals around the U.S.

Maria Elena


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