Synopsis: Crossing the border into the USA illegally proves more perilous than a teenager imagines.
Where did the idea come from? Is it based on a true story?
The story of La Carnada is fictional but it is very much based on true stories, facts and details I accumulated while researching this world. It’s a world I’ve been obsessed with since 2008 when I spent time living and travelling in Mexico and came into contact with some of its more explosive elements.
You can’t escape the political dimensions of this story. What does this film say about immigration and migration in general?
I suppose this film, especially now, does have undeniable political implications but the truth is my goal from day one was to make something honest and authentic about this world. What I hope people get from this is a deeper understanding of the conditions that lend themselves to both teenage smuggling and immigration as well as the rigors of the journey itself across our southwestern border. Beyond that I think the audience can form their own political deductions. But honestly, my goal as a filmmaker was to tell a truthful story first and foremost.
Where was it shot?
The film was shot true to every location depicted. We shot in Tijuana, Sonora, both the Mexican and United States sides of the border, as well as “the devil’s highway” itself, an area of desert in Arizona notorious for immigrant and smuggling fatalities.
How did you go about casting?
Casting was very tough, especially for the part of Manny. Finding Angel Soto (our eventual young star) was very difficult. I went back and forth to Tijuana for many weeks meeting as many young kids in that age range as possible and auditioning them personally. When we saw Angel, it was sort of obvious he was special and was the only person to play this part. Carlos Valencia (Beto) was a friend of our producer (Ivan Robeldo) and we were very fortunate to have him. He sent his audition from Mexico City via his cell phone and his screen presence (which I think is undeniable in the film) was immediately apparent. We asked him to play the part without ever meeting him and I’m so glad we did.
What are the challenges when shooting in Mexico?
Oh man, the challenges. Mostly, it was cars breaking down and heat. My first day of shooting in the desert I got a pretty legit case of heat exhaustion and it really humbled me. I was a water-Nazi every day after that and it saved me. I literally remember pounding Gatorade in one hand while use the other to urinate. Serious Hydration. That kind of weather is a challenge to shoot in but it has its benefits too. I think it brought the crew closer together and it enhanced performances, of course.
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