GUADALAJARA, Mexico — Mexico’s Arte Mecánica is participating at this year’s inaugural FICG TV Pitchbox with one of the company’s first TV projects, a border-crossing immigration series titled “Kicked Out.”
The series was created by Jacopo Fontana and Tereza Suárez, and is produced by Ozcar Ramírez at Arte Mecánica. The company’s work in feature films has participated at Cannes, Locarno, Morelia and more, and “Kicked Out” marks an early, but indicative push into TV for the company.
In “Kicked Out,” a young vlogger name James discovers that his mother illegally entered the United States when he was only a baby, meaning he is not a citizen of the country in which he was raised.
Unfortunately, the revelation comes only once he is deported to Mexico. Finding himself alone and ignorant of the local language, he must find a way to exist in his true country of origin, Mexico, a place that he always considered hostile and foreign, while he figures out how to get back into the U.S.
Despite less than ideal circumstances, James never stops vlogging, trying to keep the shame of his deportation a secret from his fans. Eventually, he decides to try and enter the U.S. illegally, following in the footsteps of so many immigrants before him. He recruits the help of Carla, a young Central American girl who is hiding her own identity but wants to get into the U.S. just the same.
Fontana discussed the series with Variety ahead of its FICG TV Pitchbox pitch.
Immigration has become a hot political topic recently, but for immigrants it has always been a source of drama and sometimes trauma. Why do you think this series will work now?
It is a mixture between the current political situation, particularly in the U.S., and the ease of communication that the Internet has given us, a powerful medium that can be disseminated as real news and can even provoke violence against innocent people. A movement of globalization also needs human displacement, not only economic goods or information. The phenomenon of the criminalization of immigrants worldwide is not new, what we are trying to do is to contrast misinformation, to show the reality that a daily mile of people in the world live in their search for a dignified life.
What was the inspiration for the series? Is it based on real events, or is it invented?
We were inspired by some stories of people who experienced going to the U.S, and others who experienced expulsion. It also comes from stories that we’ve found in the newspapers since Trump won the elections. In particular the story of a female Trump supporter who had come illegally many years before. The lady complained because she thought that they were going to kick out “only the bad ones.” This reflected the current situation in a country like the United States.
What will you be looking for in Guadalajara?
We are going to Guadalajara looking for a co-producer and distribution company that will help us to elevate “Kicked Out,” as well as to contact with people in the TV industry to pitch some other series projects we are working on.
The program is described as a comedy, but it will approach some serious issues facing real people as well. How will you try to balance these two sides?
The best comedies are distinguished by their ability to deal with topics of great importance. And the best way to promote reflection on these issues is through catharsis, crying and laughing, so we decided to go with this genre. To that end, we wrote our protagonist into a classic fish out of the water situation. The comedy will be carried by James, an absurd and insane character who is catapulted towards a reality totally alien to his own. He finds himself in a highly dramatic and even tragic situation. This will require a lot from whichever actor stars in this story, because he must be offensive but at the same time charming.