An all-star cast of stars united in 2007 for this powerfully-told tale of the ongoing disappearance and murder of women in El Paso's sister city of Ciudad Juárez in Chihuahua, Mexico. The film reunited director Gregory Nava with leading-actress Jennifer Lopez ten years after their collaboration on Selena.
Lopez' character, Lauren Adrian, is an accomplished U.S. journalist who has been put on assignment in Juárez to investigate the alarming number of murders of female maquiladora workers. The story line takes the audience into the very real settings of the NAFTA-spawned slave industry, as well as the improvised living conditions of the factory workers that have flocked to the border region from all parts of Mexico. While the film boasts acclaimed Hollywood actors such as Lopez, Martin Sheen, and Antonio Banderas; a powerful performance by one of Mexico's leading ladies, Maya Zapata, draws viewers into the horror that thousands of families have experienced as the numbers of desaparecidas (dissapeared) grow without the clamor of outrage it deserves.
Bordertown uses its dialog and imagery to indict the economic powers of both the United States and Mexico for the suffering of the working class. It exposes the effects of free trade agreements that don't make assurances for the safety and livelihood of global workers, the censorship and convenient spin that has emerged with a corporate-owned media industry in the U.S., and the internal shame that is often experienced by those of Mexican ancestry who are forced in to the assimilation of American™ culture and exceptionalism.
While some of the male characters in the film are overly caricatured, I'm reminded that the point of the film is to raise the awareness and alarm of the exploitation, rape and murder of maquiladoras along la frontera. I commend the cast for using their trade to tell this story, and to do so without sanitizing the barbarism that is involved.
Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to see a link to 'Take Action' in the main menu of the DVD version of the film that shows how Amnesty International is working with the film's creators to stop the atrocities. Unfortunately, we are still seeing corporate resistance to the exposure of the human rights crisis that exists along the line. By recommending this film to anyone and everyone who will take the time to watch its powerful narrative, I hope and pray that we will finally work together towards a future that sees the humanity of workers no matter where they were born, what language they speak, or what color their skin may be.