Photo: "Los Angeles" (John Harper)
The drama of Mexican immigration to the United States is depicted in “Los Angeles,” a film by American director John Harper that honors the largely forgotten figures of that exodus.
Harper lived for long periods in the Zapotec Indian town of Santa Ana del Valle in southern Mexico, where he shot the film.
The director dispensed with professional actors for the work and wanted the residents of the town to play the characters.
“They are people with a lot of heart. They are intelligent people with a profound humanity,” Harper told Efe, adding that he was “affected (by) ... such a strong” community where “they take care of each other.”
The film, which is in the Forum category at the film festival in Germany’s capital, uses both the Zapotec and Spanish languages and tells the story of Mateo, a 17-year-old boy who dreams of traveling to the U.S. city that gives the film its name in search of a better future for himself and his family.
Harper’s work, on the other hand, also captures the lives of the people who return to their hometown after many years only to realize that they have become strangers there, and it also deals with the role of mothers, who are defined in the film as the true supporting figures in the Zapotec community.
“I know several men who were away for a long time, worked, returned and there was a lot of conflict,” Harper said.
The emigrants encounter difficulties upon returning and having “once again (to find) their niche within the family, within the community, within the society,” the director said.