It’s coming soon to a theater near you.
And if I can convince you like I have been convinced, it’s a movie we all need to see to better understand our surroundings. I can hardly wait.
A Fronteira, in Portuguese, or The Frontier, in English, is the saga of our cleaning help, our restaurant cooks, our landscapers, construction workers, nannies and elderly care persons, to name a few. It is the reality check of a classical immigrant plight, featuring two couples who leave Brazil in search of the “American dream.” and find, along the way, obstacles that often seem insurmountable
“It is not a movie about immigrants,” said Zeca Barros, co-executive producer and composer of Fronteira’s musical score. “It is a movie that brings to the surface important aspects of the discussion about belonging. What is to belong to a group? What does it take to be part of something?”
The first feature film by a Brazilian on such a subject, A Fronteira is directed by Emerson College graduate Roberto Carminati, who was born in Rhode Island to Brazilian parents and moved back to Brazil at the age of 10 months.
“When I was born my father was in college here and he worked in radio,” said Carminati. “He first came here through a Catholic Seminar and didn’t have to be illegal at all.”
While growing up in Brazil, Carminati stayed in touch with the US through visits to an uncle and finally moved here at age 20, to attend film school.
That was 1998 and as a Brazilian in New England, Carminati soon became intrigued by the stories of the many immigrants he saw everywhere. As a student at Emerson College, he had experience with some short movies, but then decided on this much bigger project backed originally by the enthusiasm of about 10 people.
A Fronteira was shot in 70 locations and had a budget of only $200,000, Carminati said. The production, which included some 200 people — 50 of them with speaking parts — no doubt took its toll on the few who carried the project all the way.
“This movie is a heroic feat by five people”, said Dauro Aquino, the producer. “Of course it has flaws, but it’s our first movie and it’s truly heroic for us to have gone through with it, despite all the odds.”
On location shooting included the Mexican-American border, several scenes in El Paso and the Big Bend State Park, in Texas. Desert scenes were done to show the reality throughout Mexico, but for safety reasons were shot in the US, where “the desert is identical”, as Carminati puts it. A large part of the movie was shot in the Boston area.
Screenplay writers Barros and Carminati have said they hope to have different audiences reflect on the reality of immigrants in modern America.
“We didn’t tell the story of any ‘one person’”, said Carminati. “We interviewed about 80 people and some 75 percent of them had similar plights, having come across the Mexican-American border with incredible difficulties.”
According to Aquino, the title A Fronteira refers to at least three obstacles that are somewhat like borders in different steps of an immigrant’s path.
“First, there’s the geographic border, the frontier itself”, he said. “Then, there’s confrontation with language barriers, adaptation to a new culture, job search, lack of documentation, and finally, there’s the dream frontier when immigrants wonder, ‘is it worth it?”
Barros said he had several audiences in mind as he got his words on paper.
“I wanted to look for ways for people to reflect upon this reality of immigrants all around them”, he said. “I had to think of those who are against or in favor of immigrants. This became quite intense because immigration is part of the DNA of this country.
“Some may think this is a story of two Brazilian couples, but it’s not. It is about struggles, but it is great because it is not bias as much as we could help it. It shows the problems as they are, with Brazilians exploiting Brazilians, teenage gangs and drugs, but it also gently taps the American system to show that the immigrants are not at all seen as the enemy.”
Carminati points out that “the simple fact that ones says ‘I came through Mexico’ and still gets a green card reveals a lot about the way immigrants are seen by the government .
“This may be the only country where one is still welcome after breaking the law”, he said. “If you go to Australia on a tourist Visa and stay, they won’t let you become a legal resident. Here they know they need the immigrants.”
Publicado originalmente no Metrowest Daily News, EUA, em setembro de 2002.