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SUBMISSIONS  ARE  OPEN  for  the  24th  UNAFF  which  runs  from  October  21-31,  2021  in  Palo  Alto,  East  Palo  Alto,  San  Francisco  and  Stanford  University.

UNAFF  celebrates  the  power  of  international  documentary  films  dealing  with  human  rights,  the  environment,  refugees,  famine,  homelessness,  racism,  disease  control,  women's  issues,  children,  universal  education,  war  and  peace.    




UNAFF 2008, Children in No Man's Land

Children in No Man's Land is a documentary that uncovers the currentplight of the 100,000 unaccompanied minors entering the United Statesevery year. This timely film gives the political debate about theU.S.-Mexico border a human face by exploring the story of Maria deJesus (thirteen) and her cousin Rene (twelve) as they attempt to crossthe U.S./Mexico border alone to reunite with their mothers in theMidwest. Focusing on minors crossing through the Sonora Desert area inNogales, Arizona, this film explores every detail of these children'sjourney as well as the journeys of other children we meet on the way.The film uncovers in an intimate and personal way where they are comingfrom, what their journeys have been like and how they've gone about it,through to the arrival at their destination-their new home, The UnitedStates of America.


I naturally compared this documentary with a fictional movie that I had seen dealing with the same topic: Bajo la misma luna (under the same moon). I have to say, I wasn't as absorbed in the story in Children in No Man's Land as I was for the other film. The documentary did not allow me to feel the tension or have a sense of the dangers related to illegally crossing the US-Mexico border. This is undeniably mainly due to the fact that the director was unable to film the actual crossing. Still, when she interviews the children who have just been caught and are detained by the American authorities, their attitudes does not convey much fear. What's more, they are ready to try again. I was actually surprised at how realtively nonchalant the children were when talking about illegally crossing the border. This almost made it feel unreal (ironic for a documentary).


The focus of the documentary seems to be rather on the emotional effect of separation between parents and children. While the mother is able to provide financially for her children, she is conscious that she fails to give her children the motherly care they need, and also misses out on their childhood. Mother and children are estranged from each other and have to discover each other when they are again reunited. The discussion with the director after the movie emphasized that the message she is trying to convey is that policies need to be changed to enable those families to be reunited.

Camille Leblond 


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UNAFF will be held in October  at Stanford University including screenings in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto and San Francisco.

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