Main content

Border South

To stem the immigration tide, Mexico and the U.S. collaborate to crack down on migrants, forcing them into ever more dangerous territory.

Every year hundreds of thousands of migrants make their way along the trail running from southern Mexico to the US border. Gustavo's gunshot wounds from Mexican police, which have achieved abundant press attention, might just earn him a ticket out of Nicaragua. Meanwhile anthropologist Jason De León painstakingly collects objects left behind by migrants on the trail, which have their own stories to tell. Fragmented stories from Hondurans crossing through southern Mexico assemble a vivid portrait of the thousands of immigrants who disappear along the trail.

BORDER SOUTH reveals the immigrants' resilience, ingenuity, and humor as it exposes a global migration system that renders human beings invisible in life as well as death.

'Compassionate...Vivid...We receive the message strongly that these are ordinary people expected to do extraordinary things...This is skillful film-making, not to present the migrants as heroes, but just as people with mundane plans and dreams like the rest of us.' Charlie Phillips, The Guardian

'Gustavo's story is fascinating; it's a perspective that's been vilified by the media, and Paz Pastrana seeks to treat him with respect and dignity when giving him a platform to speak...Border South is all about putting a human face to the South American migrant, an important action at this critical time.' Musanna Ahmed, Film Inquiry

'The dangers and threats they face are daunting, but equally evident is the range of personalities, the ingenuity and the creativity they bring...Border South's many small, revealing moments evidence the power of documentary, to tell us what is left out of even excellent researched reporting on this urgently topical issue.' Patricia Aufderheide, International Documentary Association

'A mesmerizing, gritty, and deeply caring portrait of the harsh realities of migration and deaths on the US/Mexico divide. Border South forces viewers to look startlingly close at human beings shot at, trafficked, and abused in their effort to provide for their families. It also shows what the Undocumented Migration Project is doing to address this human rights crisis. This is a spellbinding depiction of the popular slogan: Migrar es amar(To migrate is to love).' Charlie D. Thompson, Jr., Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University, Author, Border Odyssey: Travels Along the US/Mexico Divide, Director, Brother Towns/Pueblos Hermanos

'Border South is an educational film on immigration that students will never forget. It tells the stories of real people crossing the U.S./Mexico border seeking a better life. Navigating danger on trains and hot and desolate deserts, these migrants literally risk life-and-death in pursuit of a better life.' Kevin R. Johnson, Dean, UC Davis School of Law, Co-Editor, ImmigrationProf Blog, Co-Author, Opening the Floodgates? Why America Needs to Rethink Its Border and Immigration Laws

'Essential watching for those wishing to better understand the violence and trauma of the border experience...While the film's focus is on the small and personal, Border South also ensures that the broader political economy that underpins the necessity of migration remains squarely on the horizon.' Jared Margulies, Department of Politics, University of Sheffield

'[A] vital perspective...Border South gives voice to those who have been silenced...Without sanitizing the horrors of life on the trail, Pastrana shows the resilience of those many thousands who are forced to make an impossible choice in the hope of a better future.' Sophie Maxwell, One Room With A View

'An insightful, moving and utterly raw survivalist take on the most crucial issue of our times...An intense, compassionate and provocative diary of an uncertain quest for the future.' Roger Costa, Brazilian Press


Main credits

Paz Pastrana, Raúl O. (film director)
Paz Pastrana, Raúl O. (director of photography)
Paz Pastrana, Raúl O. (film producer)
De León, Jason (film producer)
Girón Pérez, Cecilia (film producer)

Other credits

Editor, Ellen Knechel.

Related Films

East of Salinas

Jose is an excellent student with a bright future except that he is undocumented,…

Brother Towns / Pueblos Hermanos

An uplifting story about Jupiter, Florida's humane response to an influx…


Refugees, asylees and caregivers share their stories to help professionals…