Transgresiones / Transgressions

Transgresiones = Transgressions. Actually, the title should contain at least two terms because this documentary film shows two entirely different forms of transgression. One of them follows directly from the setting: Tijuana / San Diego. A border region between Mexico and the U.S.A., the South and the North, the so called 'Third' and the 'First World', between poor and rich. It is the physical form of crossing the border: the transgression of migrants, both legal and 'illegal'. A man is sitting against the metal wall that divides both worlds. He receives some final advice about confrontations with the Border Patrol (“Do not run away if you see the migra!”). And also the transgression of goods: Due to low wage level and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Tijuana, seen from above, appears like a gigantic conglomeration of factories. Between them, an endless stream of trucks that wait for hours to cross through a single opening in the border fence, just a few meters wide.

The bird's eye view on Tijuana is also an example for the second form of transgression in our documentary, for the artistic one: transgression of the art, of the fantasy, of the thoughts. We met artists, writers and musicians who live and work in Tijuana. Those interviews create the second topic of this film, and at first sight they seem unrelated to the geopolitical situation. The art easily crosses the hard physical limit that the border fence represents to the migrant. In one of her poems, a writer flies over the fence, leaves behind the factories of Tijuana and heads towards the shining skyscrapers of San Diego. Another writer transforms into a mythological raven, guardian of the 'plumaged children'. The cultural borders are crossed with similar ease, the music of the documentary is a hybrid of Mexican folklore and U.S.-Hip Hop.

In this documentary we don't highlight the stark differences of the border fence's physical reality from the limitless possibilities in the arts as described above. Instead, when the poet Abril Castro says that “pain is also a form of contact“, we have to think of the borderlands as “an open wound” (Gloria Anzaldúa). Hundreds of wooden graveyard crosses are attached to the Mexican side of the metal fence, in memory of thousands of undocumented migrants who did not survive the transgression to the other side.

–Florian Geierstanger and Diana Grothues in June 2007