Of the thousands of migrants riding the “The Beast,” a Mexican freight train that runs north from Honduras and Guatemala, 5% are unaccompanied children. “Which Way Home” chronicles the perilous journey of migrants heading for the U.S. from atop the “The Beast.” In this documentary, Rebecca Cammisa points her camera at Kevin, a 13-year-old Central American boy, who is determined to immigrate to the U.S. for a better life. Simply put, at 13, Kevin is willing to risk his life, leave his family, and hope that America will provide him an opportunity to make something of himself. Today, in the U.S., the general feeling towards migrants is at the very least sour and malformed. When we think of illegal immigration and the thousands pouring into our country each year, we seldom envision third and fourth grade children trying to make it alone.
At times the film captures Kevin’s painful realities, when he speaks of being robbed and beaten by Mexican police, grappling with the reality of seeing the gang-rape of a mother and daughter, and the eventual loss of his dream: detained in Texas. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the 1986 “An American Tail,” animated film about Fievel and his family of immigrant mice, who naively believe they would find the streets of America paved with cheese. When I was four, Fievel was my hero, he escaped from the army of cruel cats who destroyed his village, found his family in America and a happy ending followed, as the American dream should.
As an adult, the streets are stilled paved with cheese, but my hero, Kevin, isn’t animated. His story is dictated by real events rather than happy endings. The film has no happy ending, instead points to a solution: there are ways of alleviating the suffering and preventing the conditions seen in this film from continuing.
All and All a beautiful piece of cinema.
Lena Beery is a first-year student at the University of Maryland School of Law and NLLSA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Director.