You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Letters From The Other Side

A much-needed examination of the collateral damage of illegal immigration, "Letters From the Other Side" gives voice to the women and children left behind when Mexican men cross the U.S. border looking for work. Sensitive treatment of an overlooked issue should make it resonate among a wide, and widely diverse, TV audience.

A much-needed examination of the collateral damage of illegal immigration, “Letters From the Other Side” gives voice to the women and children left behind — sometimes forever — when Mexican men cross the U.S. border looking for work. Sensitive treatment of an overlooked issue should make it resonate among a wide, and widely diverse, TV audience.

Documaker Heather Courtney was attracted to the story for two reasons: Her previous film “Los Trabajadores” (The Workers) concerned immigrant farm labor in the Southwest; and she was moved by the death in 2003 of 19 illegals who suffocated in a tractor trailer. Courtney’s question — what about the survivors? — is answered with overwhelming sadness. “Nobody leaves because they want to,” says one woman, and all the political noise about predatory immigrants and porous borders falls away like scales.

Using the technique seen in Carlos Bosch and Josep Maria Domenech’s 2002 Cuba-American docu “Balseros,” Courtney records the women — notably a wife and mother named Eugenia — and takes the tapes to the United States. She also tapes Eugenia’s husband and son, and brings the tapes back to Mexico. It’s a very effective and emotionally potent device, with the tears on both sides very real. Reality however, precludes easy answers.

Two of the women — Carmela and Laura — lost their husbands in the May, 2003, tractor trailer tragedy, and, in one scene, Laura’s video letter is viewed by a functionary at the Bureau of Homeland Security. “How many more deaths does it take for the U.S. government to do something?” she asks.

Predictably, the bureaucrat has no answers. But it’s encouraging that Courtney is asking her questions.

Letters From The Other Side

Production: A Front Porch Films presentation, in association with KERA Dallas/Ft. Worth and ITVS. Produced, directed, written by Heather Courtney.

Crew: Camera (color, DV, Super 8), Courtney, Rene Pennaloza Galvan; editors, Kyle Henry, Sandra Guardado; music, Alex Chavez. Reviewed at Slamdance Film Festival (Special Screenings), Jan. 20, 2006. Running time: 74 MIN.

More Film

  • 'Lemonade' Review: A Quietly Seething Romanian

    Berlin Film Review: 'Lemonade'

    A much-needed examination of the collateral damage of illegal immigration, “Letters From the Other Side” gives voice to the women and children left behind — sometimes forever — when Mexican men cross the U.S. border looking for work. Sensitive treatment of an overlooked issue should make it resonate among a wide, and widely diverse, TV […]

  • Cinema Audio Society 2018 Winners: 'Dunkirk,'

    'Dunkirk,' 'Game of Thrones' Win Cinema Audio Society Awards for Sound Mixing

    A much-needed examination of the collateral damage of illegal immigration, “Letters From the Other Side” gives voice to the women and children left behind — sometimes forever — when Mexican men cross the U.S. border looking for work. Sensitive treatment of an overlooked issue should make it resonate among a wide, and widely diverse, TV […]

  • Kazuhiro Tsuji Darkest Hour Makeup artist

    'Darkest Hour,' 'American Horror Story' Lead Make-up and Hair Stylists Guild Winners

    A much-needed examination of the collateral damage of illegal immigration, “Letters From the Other Side” gives voice to the women and children left behind — sometimes forever — when Mexican men cross the U.S. border looking for work. Sensitive treatment of an overlooked issue should make it resonate among a wide, and widely diverse, TV […]

  • Isle of Dogs

    The 10 Best Films of the 2018 Berlin Film Festival

    A much-needed examination of the collateral damage of illegal immigration, “Letters From the Other Side” gives voice to the women and children left behind — sometimes forever — when Mexican men cross the U.S. border looking for work. Sensitive treatment of an overlooked issue should make it resonate among a wide, and widely diverse, TV […]

  • Indian Actress Sridevi Kapoor Arrives For

    Legendary Bollywood Actress Sridevi Dies at 54

    A much-needed examination of the collateral damage of illegal immigration, “Letters From the Other Side” gives voice to the women and children left behind — sometimes forever — when Mexican men cross the U.S. border looking for work. Sensitive treatment of an overlooked issue should make it resonate among a wide, and widely diverse, TV […]

  • NMHC Impact Awards

    Aubrey Plaza, NHMC President Call Out Under-Representation of Latinos at Impact Awards

    A much-needed examination of the collateral damage of illegal immigration, “Letters From the Other Side” gives voice to the women and children left behind — sometimes forever — when Mexican men cross the U.S. border looking for work. Sensitive treatment of an overlooked issue should make it resonate among a wide, and widely diverse, TV […]

  • Emma Chambers'HOW DO YOU WANT ME'

    'Notting Hill' Actress Emma Chambers Dies at 53

    A much-needed examination of the collateral damage of illegal immigration, “Letters From the Other Side” gives voice to the women and children left behind — sometimes forever — when Mexican men cross the U.S. border looking for work. Sensitive treatment of an overlooked issue should make it resonate among a wide, and widely diverse, TV […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content