“Some are born under a lucky star, some are born into collisions” (Mexican proverb)
A title card at the beginning of Collisions tells us “Every four minutes a US citizen child is separated from a parent by deportation.” The film is told from the perspective of two such children.
When twelve year old Itan (Izabella Alvarez) comes home from school one day with her little brother Neto (Jason Garcia), they find the home has been ransacked and their mother is missing. She has been arrested by ICE. Itan is smart and capable, but soon they must rely on Child Protective Services, who takes them to their estranged uncle Evencio (Jesse Garcia), a crude truck driver who has no interest in the family.
Itan has little patience with Evencio’s behavior, but she and Neto have no real choice. Itan manages to use the internet to locate which facility her mother has been taken to and demands that the uncle take them there to stop her mother’s deportation. A road trip in his tractor/trailer puts them on the road to Phoenix, but after a difficult night, Evencio abandons the children in a motel. By then Itan discovers her mother has been transferred again. Evencio and Itan both grow to understand each other a bit as the search goes on. Even when the journey comes to an end, there are problems facing the family.
Filmmaker Richard Levien is himself an immigrant (from New Zealand), but is now a US citizen. He understands that the immigration process can be labyrinthine. As the children search for their mother, she is also trying to contact them. However, the procedures in place make this very difficult. He wants us to understand that for those involved—especially children—it can be hopeless to understand the system.
The experience shown in the film is not a new situation, but it has been exacerbated by current government policies, such as the ending of DACA (Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Delayed Action for Parents of Americans). The film doesn’t place a political blame for the situation. It sees it as an ongoing way of life for many in this country.
It also shows that this is not only a political issue, but for many a very personal one. Itan has lived her whole life in the U.S. Her life is here. Her hopes for education are here. How can a twelve year old continue towards her goals without a family that will support her and care for her If she goes to live with her mother in Mexico, she will be an outsider. It is not her culture. It would not offer the opportunities she has at home. How can a just solution be found?
The personal side of the story is where Levien draws us in so that we can see the importance of finding the political will to address the issue.
All stills are photographed by Frazer Bradshaw