I recently watched a great film called Sin Nombre directed by Cary Fukunaga.  I saw a preview for it based on another film from the same production company, Focus Feature Films, which produces many foreign language films.  It is the same company that produced The Motorcycle Diaries.  I also try to watch as many movies in Spanish or regarding Mexico as possible, so Sin Nombre appealed to me.  It subtitled, as it is in Spanish and varying indigenous Mexican dialects; the linguistic differences are also very interesting.  The main themes of the film are gang violence, troubled youth, and the survival tactics of an immigrant.

Sin Nombre simultaneously delves into the lives of two young Latin Americans whose paths cross by a strange turn of events.  It is about a young Honduran girl, Sayra, who is forced to migrate with her family to the United States, passing through Mexico on the way.  According to her story, it is a very accurate portrayal of an illegal immigrant’s struggle to enter into the United States and the many dangers one may face along the way.  During her journey, she meets a Mexican gang member named Casper, who is the film’s other main character.  His side of the story illustrates the life of a young gang member from Chiapas; it is accurate in the fact that it is very graphic and portrays a real gang affiliation.  Casper and Sayra strangely meet on a train towards northern Mexico.  They become involved and must later rely on each other to make it to the United States alone in hopes of a better life and escaping their pasts.

Some questions that came to mind while watching the film were about the accuracy of the depiction of an immigrant.  For example, do many people really go on foot all the way from Central America to the United States?  How do immigrants of varying nationalities perceive each other?  Are there many networks of people that are so willing to help migrants in crossing?  The film presents many questions, but does a great job of portraying an immigrant’s strategy of passing through Central America on foot, hitch hiking, trainhopping, and by the use of coyote.  Next, Sin Nombre is a great example of the resentment felt between varying immigrant groups.  In Mexico, people tend to have negative stereotypes of Guatemalans or other Central Americans; on the contrary, once in the United States, the majority of Hispanic immigrants are assumed to be Mexican.  Finally, the film seemed to convey that many clandestine organizations are willing to help immigrants in crossing, whether it is the train conductors or people that provide cheap lodging.

Many topics from class were also addressed in the film.  For example, Professor Winship’s presentation about the youth in El Salvador applied to the film in the aspect of many children living away from their immigrant parents, as way the case with Sayra.  His presentation was also relevant to the topic of youth violence, which was a focal point of the film.  Professor Schemenauer’s presentation on the connotations of women traffickers was also relevant in the aspect of Sayra as a young, female immigrant.  Overall, I really enjoyed the film and would recommend it to anyone interested in Mexican gangs, immigrant journeys, or the youth of Central America.