The One about Gregory Nava’s “El Norte”

12238306725_3abce066d9_b

A powerful film about the human spirit.  Moving, well-written, well-acted and just magnificent.

In 1983, Independent filmmaker George Nava and his co-writer Anna Thomas were responsible for a film that touched everyone’s soul and a rare film that show us a perspective of how tough life is in Central America, Mexico and the dreams of escaping to “El Norte” (The North) aka The United States for a better life than live their lives in danger and poverty.

The film was first presented at the Telluride Film Festival in 1983 and received its nationwide release in 1984.   The film was critically acclaimed and received an Oscar nomination for “Best Original Screenplay” at the 1985 Academy Awards and receives the distinction of being the first American independent film to be honored with the nomination.

“El Norte” was absolutely wonderful.  Powerful and moving and thought provoking.

The imagery stays in your head but most of all the message.  Poverty and corruption continue to exist in these countries and many people like the characters of Enrique and Rosa are living all over the United States.

The film is definitely “epic” in nature as there are very few films that can touch upon humanity, capturing the hope but also the pain that these immigrants must go through each day and out.  The words from Rosa still remain strongly in my head about how in her country, her people want them killed.  In Mexico, there is nothing but poverty and in America, they are not even acknowledged by people.  And to think of how relevant this film is today with the discussion of building a wall in the border, our current state of the economy forcing many of these immigrants to become homeless and the thought of how these people who are deported, leave behind many of their children and these children live in an orphanage.  I was truly touched by this film.

As for the film itself, I was just amazed of how well this independent film looked.  It screamed big budget film but in reality, it was done for under a million dollars.  But the story as featured in the documentary of what had taken place during the filming of “El Norte” was incredibly shocking.

It’s one thing to film with a skeleton crew but the cast and crew could have been killed by the villagers who had their machetes and rocked their vans for miles.  To the ones in Mexico who wanted ransom money to be paid in order to get their film reels back.  These are just a few instances that just shocked me.  I don’t think I have ever heard of a film that has went through so much peril, so much chaos but at the end, came out quite beautiful and powerful as “El Norte”.


 

Dennis A. Amith