Intimidad’s Midwest Premiere!
Friday, March 14, 2008. 7:00 PM. Lockerbie Central United Methodist Church, 237 N. East St., Indianapolis, IN 46204.
David Redmon and Ashley Sabin’s film Intimidad is not about Indiana in any direct way. The film does not take place in Indiana or even the USA. The closest the documentary physically gets to Indiana is Reynosa, Mexico, across the Rio Grande from McAllen, Texas.
(When Interstate 69, ie. the NAFTA super highway, gets built, Reynosa and Indianapolis will be connected by interstate.)
For a more technical review of the movie, check out this blog.
But in light of Indiana Senate Bill 335, INTIMIDAD is a must see movie for Indiana as the state legislature prepares to vote on one of the worst immigration bills in the country. Here is my blog about it from earlier last week.
John Steinbeck goes to early 21st century Mexico
The documentary tells the story of Ceci and Camilo over a four year period in their young adult lives. The couple leave their baby daughter with family members in their southern Mexico hometown and head north looking for work. Like Okies in a John Steinbeck novel, they are migrating with the hope of a better life and a slice of the [north]American dream.
Modern day Reynosa, like many Mexican border towns, is a town at the mercy of economic globalization. In one generation, the city has been transformed into a sprawling, slum filled metropolis of over 1 million people.
Tens of thousand of workers work long days in the city’s assembly factories, known as maquiladoras or maquilas. From Maytag refrigerators to bras for Victoria Secret, workers work assembly lines putting together products to be exported across the border to the US.
Largely a creation of the push for free trade and ultimately NAFTA, the maquiladoras allow corporations to avoid the higher labor costs, and stricter labor, safety, and environmental regulations of the US or Europe. Once assembled on the cheap, these goods are brought across the border and sold to mostly American consumers.
The aforementioned Maytag refrigerators used to be made in Galesburg, IL. The Johnson Controls’ maquiladora where Camillo works replaced factories in Wisconsin and Indiana. It should be noted that when the maquiladora concept was first instituted in the early 1970s, a Jasper, Indiana company was the first to open shop in Reynosa.
The problem now is that even Reynosa might not be cheap enough for the global economy. The average wage in Reynosa is about $6.50 a day, but even these low wages cannot compete with the $2.00 daily wages of China. Mexico itself has lost hundreds of thousands of assembly jobs to China.
Sinkhole of enviromental degradation and Miserable Living Conditions
Reynosa is a rough place. It is a city in which a little girl playing outside her house fell into a ditch and was terribly burned. A US-owned factory had used the ditch to dump and burn toxic their toxic waste.
It is a place that the pro-globalization Wall Street Journal editorial page has called a “sinkhole of enviromental degradation and miserable living conditions.” It is against this backdrop that Ceci and Camillo start their life.
And despite everything, like migrants all over the world, they figure a way to make it work. It might take three years of constant working to save the money to buy a small parcel of land miles from anywhere. And it may take all the ingenuity in the world to make a home out of scrap and scavaged wood pallets, but Ceci and Camillo do it.
As native Hoosiers suffer through the de-industrialized aftermath of NAFTA and begin to scapegoat the growing Latino workforce here in the heartland, let us remember that real people are involved. They didn’t come here for the weather or to be near family. And for the most part, like us, are trying to make the best out of a very bad situation.