The Long Walk of Carlos Guerrero


TYPE
: Fiction
GENRE: Drama
STATUS: Development

LOGLINE

The odyssey of survival of an undocumented New York city chef and a Salvadoran migrant girl when they get stranded in the deserts of Arizona.

SYNOPSIS

Accomplished New York City Chef and undocumented immigrant, Carlos Guerrero, risks everything to return to Mexico to see his ailing mother. The film follows his epic journey back home when he and a young migrant girl from El Salvador get stranded in the deserts of Arizona.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

The seeds for this film were sowed a long time ago, in 2004, when I was on the lookout for immigration-themed story ideas for a documentary. That’s when I came across an article in the New York Times about the rising migrant death toll in the Arizona desert. This led to a trip to the borderlands and three years later that film, Crossing Arizona premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Through the film, I experienced firsthand a national humanitarian disaster and the rising anti-immigrant sentiment that had started to get a foothold in the national discourse. It’s incredible that things have only only gotten worse since then. Today, immigration seems to be in the news almost on a daily basis. Asylum, ICE raids, family separations, the border wall, are all hot-button topics, passionately debated and discussed. But news stories can often feel abstract and devoid of the reality of personal suffering and the real human lives that are at stake. This is where art and cinema can especially be powerful, with its ability to cut through policy debates and penetrate the human soul. It can even change how people perceive an issue. This is my hope for this film. To achieve this, we will aim for a level of verisimilitude that puts the audience ‘in the shoes’ of the protagonist. Hand-held cinematography that follows the characters and sound recording that captures the vastness of the desert will be some of the techniques used to immerse the audience in the experience of the characters. The immense, mythic landscape of the American Southwest will play a major role in the film. The important thing is that every aspect of filmmaking from acting, cinematography and art direction be authentic and ultimately truthful. The film has been developed from the ground-up to be of a low budget. This is accomplished by setting most of the story outdoors, in nature. Also, for long stretches, there are only two characters on screen. Today, more than ever we need art that shows immigration from a different perspective. We need to know who our immigrant neighbors are, learn about their struggles and appreciate each other in a deeper way. The timeliness and urgency of this film consumes me. It needs to be made now.

KEY CREW

Joseph Mathew - Writer, Director, Producer
Joseph Mathew was born and brought up in Kerala, India. After he moved to the U.S in 1994, he eschewed a career in Finance to pursue a lifelong covert dream of becoming a photographer and filmmaker. He studied photography at the Maryland Institute College of Art. His interest in photojournalism led him to freelance assignments for the Associated Press and other local newspapers. With the advent of Digital Video in the late 1990’s he ventured into long-form storytelling. He first got recognized for his documentary, Crossing Arizona. Almost three years in the making, it was the definitive film on immigration along the U.S’ southern border. It premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2006 and has won numerous awards and distributed around the world. Roger Ebert called Crossing Arizona “one of the films I admired most at Sundance.” In 2009, Joseph made his first feature narrative, the award-winning Bombay Summer. Set in Mumbai, India, the film follows the lives of three young people over a summer during a time of social upheaval. Shot in real locations all over the city, the film garnered rave reviews and played in film festivals around the world. The New York Times wrote: “...a rare film from India that speaks the language of international art-house cinema”. Joseph lives in New York City.

Mrinal Desai - Director of Photography
Mrinal initially trained as an engineer and worked in the oilfields of Egypt, UAE, and Kuwait. The search for something more soul-satisfying led him to study Cinematography at the prestigious Film & Television Institute of India. Today, he travels the world as a cinematographer on feature films, documentaries, and commercials. Mrinal’s last feature film, ‘Court’ was an astounding critical success winning 19 awards internationally including 2 Lions at the 2014 Venice International Film Festival, Golden Lotus for Best Film at the 2015 National Awards and Best Cinematography at the 2Morrow Film Festival, Moscow. He was second unit Cinematographer on Danny Boyle’s 2009 multi Oscar-winning ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. His other features include Amit Dutta’s ‘Nainsukh’ and Pryas Gupta’s ‘Siddharth’. His documentary credits include the Tribeca and HotDocs winner for 2012, ‘The World Before Her’ directed by Nisha Pahuja, the Emmy nominated, ‘Terror in Mumbai’ (BAFTA winner 2010) & ‘The Battle for Haiti’ (BAFTA winner 2011) both directed by Dan Reed. Other films with Reed include ‘Terror at the Mall’ (BAFTA nomination 2015), ‘The Ground Zero Mosque’ (Channel 4/PBS) and ‘Children of the Tsunami’ (BBC/SWR). Mrinal spends his free time with friends & family, sitting and serving on Vipassana meditation courses, and being close to nature. He is based in New York & Mumbai.

Laurie Mamillan - Editor
Laurie MacMillan is an award-winning documentary editor and story consultant. Her credits include Crossing Arizona, which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and Follow My Voice an official selection of the Tribeca Film Festival. She edited Two Americans which toured the US as part of the ACLU's national campaign for immigration reform. Laurie's work has been broadcast on PBS, Sundance Channel, NHK and Al Jazeera.

 

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