Featured in BORDERLAND | The Line Within

Gabriela Castañeda – her story in BORDERLAND is one of political growth as an organizer working with the Border Network for Human Rights, primarily with women who have been separated from their husbands who’ve been deported from her community of undocumented immigrants along the southwestern U.S. border. She then took her organizing skills to a national level working with undocumented women of the Movement of Immigrant Leaders in Pennsylvania (MILPA) and the Poor People’s Campaign.

Kaxh Mura’l – his life’s trajectory is one of defending the land of his Mayan community in the highlands of Guatemala from the encroachment of a mining company, which led to credible death threats against him. Kaxh worked closely with us in the making of our previous film 500 Years, which is why he called Director Pamela Yates when he decided to flee Guatemala to seek asylum. In the making of BORDERLAND, they worked together to document his long and arduous asylum journey, using his mobile phone for powerful clandestine videos and his soulful messages. Kaxh is now living in a Mayan diaspora community in southern Florida, still awaiting his asylum hearing, and working with the International Mayan League as an official interpreter for other Mayan migrants like himself that are seeking asylum. 

Giovanni Batz was born and raised in Los Angeles, California and is currently an Assistant Professor of Chicana/o Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. He first met Kaxh while conducting research in the Ixil region on resistance movements against extractivist industries, and which is the basis of several publications, including his book the Fourth Invasion: Decolonizing Histories, Extractivism, and Maya Resistance in Guatemala (UC Press 2024). He played a key role in BORDERLAND, both on camera and in developing the narrative.

Alex Gil is driven by outrage at the abuses, family separations, and insidious entrenched presence of the border industrial complex through ubiquitous surveillance and a vast system of detention and deportation. He pulled together a team of fellow PhD Digital Humanists, all immigrants like himself working in academia, and they scraped the web to produce an exposé of the brutal multi-billion dollar apparatus of the border industrial complex which they posted online as Torn Apart/Separados – a project of the xpMethod. It is a distinct example of the active role that academics can play as protagonists in and not simply commentators on social movements, inspiring students to take action themselves.

Carlos Spector is simply the best, most experienced immigration attorney in El Paso, Texas. His Jewish grandparents came to Brooklyn fleeing the Russian pogroms and his father Peter fought against the Nazis in World War II. As a bilingual, bicultural fronterizo (border resident), Carlos was always considered the “other”, but he became comfortable wherever he landed. And he was able to identify with individuals being forced out of their countries for being the “other” – like his grandparents, which shaped his ferocious determination as an immigration attorney. He took on the political asylum cases of Mayan human rights defenders Kaxh Mura’l and Francisco Chávez stating, “These are the most important cases of my entire career.”


Filmmakers

Paco de Onís and Pamela Yates – Producer and Director of BORDERLAND. Paco is the Executive Director and Pamela is the co-founder of Skylight, a human rights media organization dedicated to strengthening social justice movements through cinematic storytelling and catalyzing collaborative networks of artists and activists. In many ways BORDERLAND brings the saga of Skylight’s Guatemala trilogy–When the Mountains Tremble (1983), Granito (2011), and 500 Years (2017)–full circle back to the U.S. From the impact of U.S. foreign policy that backed brutal regimes leading to the root causes of migration, to the present situation of mass migration from Central America. 

Peter Kinoy, Editor, is an activist filmmaker as well as co-founder of Skylight. His credits include the Guatemalan trilogy When the Mountains Tremble, Granito, and 500 Years. Other feature length non-fiction work includes the trilogy on poverty in America: Takeover, Poverty Outlaw, and Outriders, as well as State of Fear and The Reckoning. Peter is Coordinator of the Media Team, a volunteer group of media activists working with the New York State Poor People’s Campaign and the Nonviolent Medicaid Army, producing movement media as well as teaching media capacity. He has also taught editing at City College of New York, Columbia University, and at the International Film School in Cuba.

Juan Hernández, AEC, Director of Photography is a member of the Association of Spanish Cinematographers (AES). He lives in Hermosillo, Mexico and lenses fiction as well as documentary films throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States. On the documentary side Juan has worked with Bernardo Ruiz (Kingdom of Shadows, Harvest Season) as well as Everardo González (El Paso). And on the fiction side with Sergio Umansky (Lineas de Falla), Damian Romay (Isle of Hope) and Osvaldo Benavides (Noches de Boda). In 2016 Juan created his company Northbound Cinema to produce and direct his own documentary films.

Roger Clark Miller, Composer and Musician, was born in 1952 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He studied piano at age 6, picked up guitar and french horn in middle school, and found his voice as a composer and songwriter in 11th grade. He studied composition at CalArts. In 1979 he co-formed the highly influential rock band Mission of Burma. Since then there are over 50 albums under his leadership. Currently he plays keyboards in the silent film accompanying Anvil Orchestra, and multiple guitars in his “Dream Interpretations for Solo Electric Guitar Ensemble.” He tours nationally and internationally. www.rogerclarkmiller.com

Sara Curruchich, Composer and Musician is Maya-Kachiquel from Guatemala. She is the first musician to perform internationally in her native Kachiquel as well as Spanish. On BORDERLAND she plays contemporary as well as ancient instruments like the chirimía, Mayan flute and trumpet, marimba, ocarina and charchas. Her most recent album is “Mujer Indígena,” featuring the hit single “Pueblos,” a duet with Lila Downs. www.saracurruchich.com

Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj, Consulting Producer, PhD, is a social anthropologist, author, poet, and journalist. She is the first Maya-K’iche’ woman to earn a doctorate in social anthropology. She has been a visiting professor at Duke University, University of Texas in Austin, Brown University and Stanford. She is the author of two books and writes a weekly column for the El Periódico newspaper. Through both her political and academic efforts she seeks to create viable and realistic ways to create equality for indigenous people and a truly participatory democracy in Guatemala. Irma Alicia is the lead protagonist in the documentary film 500 Years and is on the Skylight Board of Directors.

Bruni Burres, Consulting Producer, has been a passionate leader with a proven track record developing and executing innovative projects at the intersection of arts, culture and human rights/social justice for over 30 years. She is a Senior Consultant for Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program, strategizing and deepening its international work with individual artists and organizations. Bruni is also a mentor and partner with the Close-Up Documentary Training program for emerging Southwest Asian and North African filmmakers and from 1991 to 2008 she was the director of the Human Rights Watch Film Festival, which she also co-founded.

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