New by Josefina Lopez: Detained in the Desert

From NBCLatino, by Adrian Carrasquillo

Josefina Lopez is best known for authoring “Real Women Have Curves,” a play turned movie which challenged cultural assumptions on beauty, marriage and a woman’s role in society. Her latest effort could be described as even more personal – “Detained in the Desert,” a movie from her and director Iliana Sosa, is an uncompromising look at the topic of immigration in the U.S. — something they feel has been completely ignored in the powerful film medium.

“I was undocumented for 13 years,” Lopez says. “As a little girl it really damaged me. You don’t feel human, you internalize this invisibility and really feel like you are an alien.” The movie is centered on Sandi, a second-generation dark skinned Latina and Lou Becker, a controversial talk show radio host. “They get stranded in the desert and have to help each other out,” Sosa says. “They have to set their political differences aside – they become like the undocumented immigrants who die out there, trapped.”

Lopez gained firsthand knowledge of the plight of undocumented immigrants who attempt to cross the desert to enter the U.S. when she was given a tour of the areas in Arizona by Enrique Morones, who founded Border Angels. The non-profit organizations works to “stop the unnecessary deaths of individuals in the desert by delivering water in key points where migrants cross the desert.”

Morones, who will play himself in the movie, tells unbelievable stories of his experiences as a border angel. He says he has had confrontations with militiamen in Arizona who poke holes in the water gallons he leaves for migrants. He also told Lopez he puts down crosses when he comes across a body in the desert and says he has seen the spirits of those who perished sitting in the back of his truck.

During her tour with him, Lopez was eventually taken to a cemetery with 700 unmarked graves of undocumented immigrants who died making the fateful trip. It is because of this “haunting” experience that she decided to donate the proceeds from the movie, which begins filming on June 21, to Border Angels.

There is also a campaign online to help pay for the post-production costs for the movie, which is on a tight and low budget. Story continues at NBCLatino

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