Films: La Jaula de Oro

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La Jaula de Oro

La Jaula de Oro

Mexico, 2013, 110 Minute Running Time
Additional Countries: Spain
Genre/Subjects: Drama, Mexican
Program: Contemporary World Cinema
Language: Spanish English Subtitles

DIRECTOR: Diego Quemada-Diez
Producer: Edher Campos, Inna Payan, Luis Salinas
Editor: Paloma Lopez
Screenwriter: Lucia Carreras, Gibran Portela, Diego Quemada-Diez
Cinematographer: Maria Secco
Principal Cast: Brandon Lopez, Rodolfo Dominguez, Karen Martinez, Carlos Chajon, Hector Tahuite

In the socialist-realism tradition of Ken Loach, Spanish writer-director Diego Quemada-Diez uses his directorial debut to tell the story of three Guatemalan teenagers who head north in search of a better life. The film’s title is drawn from “La Juala de Oro,” a Mexican ballad about the despair of illegal immigrants who reach the United States only to find themselves exploited for their cheap labor as cooks, gardeners, and office cleaners.

Juan and Sara, who disguises herself as a boy, and an Indian named Chauk (three nonprofessionals who nicely lift the somber tone of the story) band together to head north, their dreams of the good life sending them on a harrowing journey filled with dangers, toward an uncertain future.

The movie puts a young human face on the issue of immigration as the two final survivors face unpredictable and harrowing situations moving from the peaceful jungles of Guatemala through the Sonoran Desert, greeted at every turn by brotherhood and promises that lead only to cruelty and disappointment. Such a simple desire is rewarded over and over again with experiences that serve to reveal the beauty and happiness they left behind. It’s a harsh coming-of-age tale where the personal can’t help but reveal the political.

Quemada-Diez comes by his pedigree honestly, having worked as a camera assistant on Loach’s Carla’s Song, Land and Freedom, and Bread and Roses. The film was screened in the Un Certain Regard portion of the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.



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