Asylum

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Production Status: In Development

 

Genre Social Impact Drama/Adventure

 

Tagline: Searching for a new life can be deadly!

 

Logline: Fleeing their country, Carmen and her mother join the Caravan of migrants, find themselves separated, and desperately searching to be reunited.

 

Writer: Carol Gomez-Robelo

 

Producer: Carol Bidault de l'Isle

 

Countries of production: Mexico

FINANCING IN PLACE: 65% (In Equity and Tax incentives)

 

Duration (in minutes): 90

 

SYNOPSIS: 

This Social Impact Drama/Adventure is inspired by true events and starts in 2018 after the arrival of one of the Central American migrant caravans. CAROL MURRAY, 60’s, a near retirement, Jewish social worker at a camp near the U.S./ Mexico Border, devotes her time to reunite the separated migrant families. One of the “lost” children, 10 year old CARMEN, is too traumatized to give the social workers enough information to understand what has happened to her and how to reunited her with her mother. While napping, Carmen is startled awake by the security guards banging on the bars, barking orders to corral the children from their large cell and herd them on a bus to transfer them to another detention center. While in transit, one of the other children on the bus, RAOUL, 11 and Carmen escape, they try to swim across the river, but Raoul is caught by a strong current and drowns. Carmen is able to swim back to shore, where she is found hiding and hurt by an Latin American Army Engineer, SUSANA RUSSELL from Louisiana, 40’s, who takes her to the nearby immigrant center.

 

Meanwhile, CONSUELO MARTINEZ, 30’s, Carmen’s mother feverishly looks for her. She has connected with as many organizations as she can: Border Angels, ACLU, The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, Grannies Respond, Veteran Service Corps, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, seeking answers to the whereabouts of her little girl. Susana who speaks very little Spanish, has recently been assigned to this post and understands that it is best to try to “foster” Carmen so she can be released from the “cages” of detention. Carmen is ordered to testify in a courtroom, alone, without legal representation, without understanding English, nor the court proceedings, until a lawyer appointed by Susana is able to intercede and motion for temporary custody. In another courtroom, in another camp, Consuelo also is ordered to appear in court, she has secured a legal aide that explains in Spanish to the Court the horrific circumstances that lead her to flee Honduras with her daughter. FLASHBACK: Consuelo worked in a maquiladora, married to a truck worker, with two children FRANCISCO, 14 and Carmen, 10. The Mara Salvatrucha, one of the most dangerous gangs in Honduras, broke into their home, demanded money, killed her son and her husband for failing to pay the money. Consuelo and her daughter were able to escape, joined the caravan with the hope of making it to Louisiana where her brother lives. She recounts the journey mostly on foot, which took 5 months to reach the border between Mexico and US at Piedras Negras. There they sought asylum but were incarcerated and separated from her daughter, no questions asked, no way of identifying her as Carmen’s mother, no arm bracelet, no information. Since then, she has been sent from camp to camp, feeling more and more hopeless in finding her daughter. Despite her emotional testimony and the danger to her in being sent back, the judge orders her to be deported. 

 

While the final deportation documents are finalized, Carol processes Consuelo and is able to piece together that her daughter and the little girl that Susana wants to foster are one and the same. Carol is able to put them in touch and reunites mother and daughter, albeit behind bars. Through translators, she is told that it will be safer for Carmen if Consuelo not fight to be reunited with her daughter, but to allow Carmen to be “fostered” by Susana, at least until Consuelo exhausts all her legal appeals. Caught between political crossfires, bureaucratic quagmires and legal maneuvers, Consuelo and Carmen’s hopes of being together are shattered one by one, but there is one last maneuver that Consuelo must try for Carmen’s sake, in hope of a better future.

 

Final Card:

In September 2018, nearly 12,800 immigrant children were detained by the U.S. government, a record-high figure spread across 100 federally contracted shelters that is five times higher than the amount held in May 2017. 2,500 of those children arrived with their families and were separated under the U.S. government's zero tolerance policy in 2018. The remaining children in custody arrived as unaccompanied minors. More than 2,000 of those separated children have since been reunited with their families after a judge issued an injunction. Migrants traveling as part of a family group accounted for 58 percent of those taken into custody in 2018. In 2019, nearly 70,000 children were held in US detention centers, with no efforts to reunite families. The unsung heroes are the individuals and organizations that help refugees and immigrants.

The producers of the film would like to thank the following agencies that help refugees and migrants:

  • ACLU - The American Civil Liberties Union 

  • Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project

  • Border Angels

  • CARECEN

  • Kids In Need of Defense

  • RAICES – The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services

  • SALEF 

  • The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights

Inspired by true events and the story of motion picture “The Search” directed by Fred Zinnemann, written by Richard Schweizer, David Wechsler, Paul Jarrico, Montgomery Clift, Betty Smith, Peter Viertel

 

WRITER: Carol Gomez-Robelo

Carol Gomez-Robelo has spent over 35 years in the industry, she is an award winning producer (pka Bidault de l'Isle), specialized in financing and asset management. She started her career as a story analyst at Columbia, MGM & Paramount Studios; has worked in United State, Europe and Latin America. She was born in Honduras and raised in the United States and France; fluent in English, Spanish, French and Italian. 

Additional Story Consultant: 

Carla Macal Montenegro is a PhD student in Geography at the University of Oregon. She is studying the interconnections between borders, colonialism, and feminist geography. She received a Masters in Social Work from University of Southern California in 2012 and a B.A. in Sociology at UC Irvine in 2008. Carla has been an adjunct lecturer in Sociology at East Los Angeles Community College (ELAC) since 2016. She is an educator involved in a pedagogy of liberation. She enjoys reciting social justice poetry with 3 Generaciones and Sin Fronteras group. Carla is also the creator of Ixoq Arte an herbalist self-preservation project to reclaim ancestral indigenous knowledge. She was raised in East Los Angeles and was born in Guatemala. For more info, visit her website: www.cobuildingcommunity.org

Feature | English | France - Mexico - Spain

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