Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Second Cooler movie

As a followup to the earlier post on the new immigration law, I wanted to make you all aware of a movie that begins to address some questions about immigrants coming to America and can lead to a better understanding to then address the situation. To provide a context for understanding the surge of migrants into the United States looking for work in the last 20 years, the Rev. Dr. Ellin Jimmerson, a minister to the community from Weatherly Heights Baptist Church, screened a half-hour version of her new documentary, "The Second Cooler / La Segunda Nevera," narrated by Martin Sheen. Jimmerson's 16-year-old daughter, Leigh Anna, and her boyfriend, Tad Mattle, 19, died in an April 17, 2009, crash with a drunk driver. The driver was also an undocumented immigrant, but Jimmerson continued her documentary and advocacy for immigrants.

The title refers to a second cooler that the morgue in Tucson had to install to house the thousands of bodies found in the desert. More than 5,000 people have died attempting to cross the border since 1997, when official records began being kept. Both officials and immigrants estimate thousands more in inaccessible reaches of the desert.

The premise of The Second Cooler is that Arizona is the new Alabama, the epicenter of an intense struggle for migrant justice. Shot primarily in Alabama, Arizona, and northern Mexico, the film's purpose is to bring basic immigration issues into focus. Those issues include the impact of free trade agreements on migration, the lack of a legal way for poor Latin Americans to come to the United States, the inherent abuses of the guest worker program, the fact that many migrants are indigenous people, anti-immigrant politics, the reality of thousands of migrant deaths at the border, and an escalating ideology of the border.

The Second Cooler differs from every other documentary to date on the subject. It raises a well-focused question: “Who benefits?” It has interviews with 25 illegal migrants, including three children under the age of 12. It follows several of them throughout the film. In addition, it includes interviews with 55 professionals, including historians, lawyers, clergy, labor union organizers, politicians, a Border Patrol agent, human rights advocates, and others who untangle the threads of a complicated issue. When a viewer reaches the end of The Second Cooler, he or she will understand why 12 million migrants are here illegally and will be able to offer an informed answer to the question, “Who benefits?”

The Second Cooler has an original score, original songs, and uses murals and other visual art extensively. It is sub-titled in English and Spanish throughout.
The grim film brought one ironic chuckle from the packed room. That was when one of the film's subtitles blazed on the screen: "Arizona, the new Alabama?"

It was produced by the Huntsville Immigration Initiative, LLC, a 501c3 IRS charity, through a cooperative agreement with the Interfaith Mission Service, Inc.

Image from Immigration Impact Website

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