A film by Gregory Nava
Country : USA
Spanish/Maya with English subtitles
15th August 2010;5.45pm
Perks Mini Theater , Perks School
Immigration has become one of the most heated issues of our times. The subject is rife with emotion, conflicting values, and cold economic realities. El Norte, a politically charged Mexican film, addresses this issue by speaking to the heart rather than to the head. Through the odyssey of two Guatemalan Indians, we experience the courage and fortitude necessary for individuals to make a new life for themselves.
"El Norte" tells the story of a Guatemalan brother and sister who flee persecution at home and journey north the length of Mexico with a dream of finding a new home in the United States. They are illegal aliens, but then as now, the California economy can not function without their invisible presence as cheap labor. "El Norte" (1983) tells their story with astonishing visual beauty, with unashamed melodrama, with anger leavened by hope. It is a "Grapes of Wrath" for our time.El Norte is broken into three acts: the first act is set in Guatemala, the second in Mexico, and the third in "The North," or "El Norte"--America.
The movie begins in the fields where Arturo, their father, goes to a meeting to protest working conditions and is killed. Their mother disappears. Enrique and Rosa, who are in their late teens, decide to leave their village and go to America. It shows a side of American life not often portrayed in the movies. It shows that life for the working poor is difficult all over the world, and that it takes more than strong will to overcome systemic oppression
In the years since the film was released, the underlying reality of illegal immigration has remained essentially the same: America forbids it, yet requires it as a source of cheap labor.
Someone like Cesar Chavez, who fought for the rights of Chicano farm laborers, was attacked because he revealed the nation's underlying hypocrisy on the subject.
"El Norte" is a great film for two different kinds of reasons. One is its stunning visual and musical power; the approach of the film is not quasi-documentary, but poetic, with fantastical images that show us the joyous hearts of these two people. The second reason is that this is the first film to approach the subject of "undocumented workers" solely through their eyes.
Gregory Nava (born April 10, 1949 in San Diego, California) is a film director, producer and screenplay writer, of Mexican and Basque heritage.
Nava graduated from St. Augustine High School in San Diego and went on to attended film school at UCLA where he earned an MFA in 1976. At UCLA he directed the short film The Journal of Diego Rodriguez Silva (based on the life of García Lorca), and for this work, won the Best Dramatic Film Award at the National Student Film Festival.
While an instructor at Moorpark College teaching classes in cinematography, Nava's first feature film, The Confessions of Amans, won the Best First Feature Award at the Chicago International Film Festival in 1976. Later, he came to the attention of Hollywood producers due to the success of El Norte, which garnered Nava and his wife Anna Thomas an Academy Award nomination, among other accolades, for the screenplay. In 1995 the film was registered by the Library of Congress, National Film Registry. According to Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, "El Norte tells the story with astonishing visual beauty, with unashamed melodrama, with anger leavened by hope. It is a Grapes of Wrath for our time."
Further collaborations with his wife Thomas include: The Confessions of Amans, A Time of Destiny, My Family, and Frida (screenplay), and other works. Nava had further directing success in 1997 with the film Selena, starring Jennifer Lopez, who was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.
From 2003 to 2004, Nava executive produced the television series American Family: Journey of Dreams for PBS. He also directed a few episodes. In 2006, Nava produced, wrote, and directed the film ‘Border town’ which made its debut at the Berlin Film Festival on February 15, 2007.