How much can the American Dream endure before it breaks?
“La Jaula de Oro,” titled in English as “The Golden Dream,” is a Spanish dramatic road movie about unaccompanied child migration from Central America to the United States. Its documentary style takes a hard look at the inequalities and violence of immigration. The title’s literal translation, however, can be expressed as “The Golden Cage,” which strikes a brutal contrast with its English counterpart and encapsulates the devastation of hope found in this film.
The Humanitarian Club hosted a screening of “La Jaula de Oro” on Nov. 8 in the Procrastinator Theater. The small space and few audience members served to make the film an oddly-intimate experience and strengthened its impact.
The film follows the journey of four teenagers (Samuel, Juan, Chauk and Sara) from Guatemala to the United States. While there is no explicit explanation for their migration, the group discusses how “everything will be better up north” throughout the story. However, their odyssey across Central America is certainly not easy.
The band of teenagers sneak onto freight trains, walk across railroad tracks and hitch rides to cover thousands of miles. Along the way, they confront hunger, gang violence, drug cartels and sexual assault. In the end, only one of the teenagers survives the journey and crosses the border. The film concludes with a scene of this migrant staring up into a streetlight with snow falling around him, an empty expression on his face.
Films like”La Jaula de Oro” expose the horrifying personal truths of child migrants both during their journeys and in their lives after crossing the border. Today, over 12,000 unaccompanied child migrants wait in detention centers throughout the U.S. to find out whether they will be allowed to stay in America or forced back to their homelands. Like the teenagers in “La Jaula de Oro,” many of these migrants came over the border illegally in a desperate attempt to escape crime and danger, and to find a better life.
The debate over immigration rages intensely both within the halls of Congress and on the streets of America. No one can deny that it has become an enormous and highly divisive issue with no easy solution. Immigration will never be simply a question of politics. Instead, it’s a human issue. As “La Jaula de Oro”shows us, our eventual answer must honor our collective humanity as well as our individual nationalities.