UNDER THE SAME MOON
While the nation discusses immigration through raging sound bytes, a new film, starring a number of telenovela stars - puts a face to the controversial issue. "La Misma Luna" (Under the Same Moon) tells the story between a mother and son separated by the Mexico and US border.
Director Patricia Riggen deftly explores the fictional family's sacrifices which she says is not far moved from everyday reality.
"There are four million women going through this situation in the U.S. today," says Riggen. "It's something that every one of them has to evaluate. And if they leave a child behind, they do it because they don't have another option. They do it for love."
"La Misma Luna" was filmed in only five weeks in both Mexico and Los Angeles where the two protagonists only shot one scene together. Riggen does a phenomenal job as she examines the daily lives of Rosario and Carlitos played by Mexican superstar Kate del Castillo and Adrián Alonso, respectively. While Rosario begins her mornings with a soothing shower followed by a toasty Pop-Tart in her East L.A. apartment, her son Carlitos bathes with a bucket of water behind his grandmother's house. And as for breakfast, he makes himself a hot chocolate by steaming milk on the stove and literally churning the chocolate.
America Ferrera also makes a short appearance as Martha, a young woman who tries to help her brother pay for college by smuggling babies across the border.
"I feel a part of it because I am one of those immigrants who left their families to come here in search of something," says 35-year-old Del Castillo who left her native Mexico City for Hollywood. "What I liked most about the storyline is that it touches upon this topic in the most human way possible."
Del Castillo, who on her time off likes to write and participate in extreme sports like sky diving and car racing, recently returned from the 2008 Berlin Film Festival for the premiere of "Julia" with Academy Award winning actress Tilda Swinton. The single actress also just finished filming "Por Vida" alongside Danny Glover.
When the Guadalajara-born director first started working on the film five years ago she was still living in Mexico. And at the time, immigration wasn't as hot a topic as it is today. "The question shouldn't be what is the United States to do about immigration," says Riggen. "It's the Mexican government and Mexican society that should work hard to resolve the poverty problem. That's where we should focus our energy because if there isn't poverty, there isn't a need to migrate."
"La Misma Luna" is in theaters now. *mercedes sanchez
You can also read my article in the New York Post.