Of Kites and Borders tells the story of the daily struggle to be a child living on the US-Mexico border through the eyes of four working children in the city of Tijuana. Edie is a teen who smuggles immigrants into the United States while promising himself that he will never get worn-out working in the maquilas (assembly plants). Carmela is a nine-year old who knows more about work in the city's dumps than about fairy tales yet every day at sunset she dreams of a better life while watching the kites that fly over her slum. And brothers Adrián and Fernando don masks to conceal their youth and perform wrestling matches at busy intersections in order to support their family – all the while dreaming of traveling the world as famous Mexican luchadores.
Six years ago, I was working on an essay about people who had been deported from the USA and had crossed the desert to rejoin their families in America. During my research, I met the story of a man who had recently crossed the border guided by two little boys. Picturing children leading adults in this journey deeply impressed me. The idea of finding those "niños pollero" that risk their young lives drove me to Tijuana for the first time. After numerous trips to the area, three essays, and two short films on the subject (Promised Land, 2006; Tijuana Nada Más, 2008) I became passionate about this city and its people. Far from being passive victims of violence, misery and abuse, the children I found in Tijuana were people who draw upon their dreams and imagination to break free of the borders, both visible and invisible that confine their daily existence. Edie, Carmela, Fernando and Adrián embody the story I wanted to tell a story about children who are like fighting cocks that never give up; like Mexican wrestlers who know how to fall; like papalotes (kites) that ride the wind and fly far away. As I worked with them, I also came to realize that the city in which they live is not a "border city" but a "border turned into a city". The border exists as more than just a solid concrete wall- it is something you feel, speak, and breathe. As somebody once said to me: "Here, you don't just inhabit the border, the border lives in you."
As the U.S. Administration faces increased pressure on Immigration Reform, the controversial issue of border control receives continuous coverage in the mainstream media. Of Kites and Borders is a story of hope, struggle, and survival that digs behind newspapers' headlines to explore life on the other side of the wall and the underlying context of immigration.
I made this documentary not just because of my passion for storytelling but also because of my wish to offer the rarely seen perspective of those children that the border inhabits - a perspective that invites viewers to rethink the concept of "border" and "otherness." We often find stories about people crossing borders, but where are the stories on how borders cross people's lives?