Mark Metcalf
MFF Winter Review

Which Way Home

By - Mar 11th, 2010 04:00 am
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Still from Which Way Home, courtesy HBO Films.

Which Way Home is one of those documentaries that you might think you don’t need to see because you have already heard so much about this subject and you don’t need to hear more. You would be wrong.

Rebecca Cammisa spent more than a year interviewing and traveling with children from Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico as they attempt to get away from impoverished lives in their home countries to join their parents, or to simply find relief in the United States. It’s a straightforward look at a very real situation.

There is no political agenda working here, but the viewer is given such a startlingly real and at times terrifying look at the lives of others – of children specifically– that it may begin to affect your position on a political solution to immigration.

I found myself in awe of the courage, the stamina, the adventurous spirit and the determination of these young children. Barely teenagers,  they navigate a migration of nearly two thousand miles, fueled by the desire to be reunited with their families or purely by the American Dream that we have packaged and marketed so well throughout the world. They walk, they hop freight trains, they cadge rides on buses and then they walk again. In the meantime, they’re hiding from railroad security and the police, and avoiding adults that would prey upon them. Occasionally these kids are helped by people and organizations that try to feed and shelter them and also to warn them of the dangers, but they never try to stop them. And why would anyone try to stop them?

We have made it clear that we are the greatest country on earth; that anything is possible here, that the ability to dream and live your dream exists here more than anywhere. How we can fault people for wanting to come here?

But that is me politicizing the situation. Cammisa wisely stays out of that and any other argument. She sees only the human situation and her film offers us the chance to look into the face of that situation. The fact that it is a child’s face makes it even more emphatic that a solution is necessary so that our future is not at risk. And it is our future as well as theirs– the moral judgments we make now determine who we are and how our children will see the world and live in it.

Listen to Mark’s phone interview with producer Jack Turner:

Which Way Home is a documentary film directed by Rebecca Cammisa and produced by Milwaukee native Jack Turner.  It was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and for an Oscar for Best Documentary.  It will be featured  in the Milwaukee Film Winter Edition Festival this weekend at the Marcus North Shore Cinema, located at 11700 N. Port Washington Rd., Mequon. For showtimes, click here.

Mark Metcalf is a writer, professional actor and resident of Milwaukee. He hosts TCD’s weekly podcast “Backstage with Mark Metcalf” and occasionally writes the film blog “Moving Pictures.” Mark is also Milwaukee Film’s Director of Collaborative Cinema, giving area students hands-on experience with film making.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Movies

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