By Helen Cook
New York, Jun 15 (EFE).- “A lot of people don’t know any immigrants. They don’t know anyone who’s undocumented,” the director of the Spanish-language, same-sex migrant love saga “I Carry You with Me” told Efe ahead of that film’s screening Tuesday night at New York City’s Tribeca Festival.
“It’s the story of a great love, and that’s why I wanted to make the movie. But also to show people a side of immigrants that’s not the stereotypical one,” Heidi Ewing, the maker of nearly two-dozen documentaries, said of her narrative directorial debut.
“They’re (business) owners. It’s a gay couple. They have a good life in New York,” she said. “(These are) normal stories of real people who came here because of a dream, who didn’t come because of violence from gangs or drug traffickers,” Ewing added.
The picture, which won the NEXT Audience Award at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and will premiere at cinemas in the United States on June 25, is based on the lives of Ivan, an aspiring chef, and Gerardo, a teacher – two men who met and fell in love in their native Mexico.
Forced to hide their romantic relationship due to homophobia in their homeland, they emigrate to the US in search of both career advancement and greater acceptance of their lifestyle.
“This film is based on a true story. It’s the story of friends I’ve known for 20 years, and after eight years of friendship one night they decided to tell me their story of true love,” Ewing said.
“It surprised me a lot because I didn’t know how difficult it was to come to the US. I didn’t know they’d faced discrimination in Mexico as a gay couple. It was a story so romantic and so intense that I wanted to tell that story to the world,” she added.
For much of the film, Ivan and Gerardo are portrayed by Mexican actors Armando Espitia and Christian Vazquez, respectively. But toward the end, in a nod to her facet as documentary filmmaker, Ewing made the atypical choice of showing images of the real-life middle-aged couple going about their daily lives.
She had obtained that video footage over the years thanks to her close friendship with the two men and decided that its authenticity and intensity made it too good to leave out.
“There are no other films that do this. I had no other points of reference to study or see how it works because it isn’t done. But I didn’t want to use actors for this moment of their lives because what I had was so emotional and real,” Ewing said of the narrative-documentary mixture she decided upon.
Vazquez said for his part that the filmmaker prohibited the actors from reaching out to Ivan and Gerardo, and vice-versa.
“It was really nice because it was like running blind, yet always with your heart out in front,” Vazquez said.
Espitia, meanwhile, said the often-painful severing of ties with one’s homeland is another aspect of undocumented migration addressed in the film.
“Even though these are hard-working people fighting for their dreams, they also have this small detail that they can’t go back to Mexico and that makes them … neither from here nor there,” he added. EFE