Above: three stills from the film Tijuana: Ciudad de Migrantes
On Tuesday, September 12, two students from OU’s partner university in Mexico, Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP), will be hosting a screening of their new documentary, Tijuana: Ciudad de Migrantes. The event is sponsored by the OU Center for the Americas, and representatives from Education Abroad will be present with information about study abroad opportunities at OU’s Mexican study center, OU in Puebla.
The filmmakers, who are also visiting the University of Notre Dame in Indiana later this month, were interested in coming to the University of Oklahoma due to friendships they made with OU students, who were studying abroad at UPAEP through OU in Puebla. “We met them because we took a class together (International Development) that was co-taught by two professors, one from UPAEP and one from OU, which were Dr. Luisa Grijalva and Dr. Scott Fritzen [former Dean of the OU College of International Studies],” explains Karla Daniela Fernández Galindo, one of the student filmmakers who is visiting OU. “Since Juan Carlos [Gazca Muñoz, her collaborator] is the social one of us both, he invited them to grab a drink and that's how we all started talking and very quickly became friends.”
This chance meeting blossomed into an opportunity: while their friends are now back at the University of Oklahoma, it is the UPAEP students’ turn to journey abroad, sharing their work with the OU community and starting an important cross-cultural conversation about migration.
Tijuana: Ciudad de Migrantes portrays the reality of migrants who arrive in the city of Tijuana during their search for a better life. Through interviews with migrants of different nationalities and testimonies from civil organizations and the government, the documentary shows the complexity of the migration situation on the border between Mexico and the U.S., and invites reflection on the necessary policies and practices to guarantee the respect and dignity of migrants and their families.
Fernández Galindo and Gazca Muñoz, who will speak at Tuesday’s screening, are representing a student group at UPAEP called Alas Sin Fronteras, and made the film together with their fellow members: María Teresa Ruiz Rojano, Alondra Crisóstomo, Diana Laura Varela Cano and Carlos García Rincón. The group’s goal is to raise awareness among university students of migration as a sociopolitical phenomenon, and to humanize and dignify the general understanding of migration and refuge through investigation, fieldwork and documentaries. Fernández Galindo and Gazca Muñoz are both senior international relations majors from Puebla, Mexico who have been active in the group throughout their time at UPAEP. “In addition to the documentary, we made different exhibits in the UPAEP museum — one of them was about LGBTQIA+ migration and the vulnerabilities they are put through during their transit to the United States,” Fernández Galindo explains.
Though the documentary was a group effort, Gazca Muñoz was the driving force behind their focus on migration. “Before starting university, he had a year of voluntary work in Desayunador Salesiano, a community diner that would feed people that needed it for free — most of them were migrants hoping to cross the border to the United States,” Fernández Galindo says. “He told us a lot about his experience, and little by little we started to get involved in his interests as well. That's how Alas Sin Fronteras was born, and from it the documentary derived.”
After the screening in Notre Dame, the students will continue to promote the film and work on related projects until their graduation. “Since we are both graduating very soon, we will pass it on to its younger members so that the group keeps on,” Fernández Galindo explains. “We are certain that it will be in good hands and that great things await, and we are looking forward to keeping active within it even if we graduate.”
The screening of Tijuana: Ciudad de Migrantes will be in held in Gaylord Hall room 2020 on Tuesday, September 12 at 6 p.m. Fernández Galindo and Gazca Muñoz will present the film and host a Q&A. The film is in Spanish with English subtitles, and the event is open to the public. You can watch the trailer below.