Border South is the story of the migrant trail that leads from southern Mexico to the United States. The documentary explores life on the trail, alongside the lives of a Nicaraguan migrant and an American anthropologist.

Gustavo is the film’s primary protagonist, a young migrant dealing with Mexican bureaucracy on his journey north from Nicaragua. He lives in a migrant shelter while recovering from being shot by Mexican immigration police. The film weaves between following Gustavo’s efforts to get a humanitarian visa in Mexico and life at the other end of the trail. In Arizona, Jason De León works as an anthropologist for the Undocumented Migration Project. His work involves carefully recovering items left behind by migrants entering America, constructing narratives and collecting data about the incredible efforts of migrants to find a better life. De León also seeks, when possible, to reunite the many deceased and missing with their identities and families.

Director (and immigrant) Raúl O. Paz Pastrana shows the ingenuity and supportive efforts of migrants in a humanizing observational style, focusing on portraying moments of humour and creativity. We also see the care with which De León approaches his work, conducting difficult emotive research to improve the lives of future migrants. Pastrana’s choice to film Gustavo and De León at quiet, intimate moments ensures that the emotional effects of this journey on individual lives is more than clear. This vital perspective counters the pervasive racist and ignorant rhetoric about immigrants made widespread by politicians and the international news media.

Border South gives voice to those who have been silenced by nationalist politics in North America. Without sanitizing the horrors of life on the trail, Pastrana shows the resilience of those many thousands who are forced to make an impossible choice in the hope of a better future.



DIRECTOR: Raúl O. Paz Pastrana

SYNOPSIS: Every year hundreds of thousands of migrants make their way along the trail running from southern Mexico to the US border. The trail offers a spark of hope to many, but the risks of attempting the journey are extremely high.