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Life on the Line twists the straight iron fence between the US and Mexico into question marks not followed by simple answers. Kimberly crosses the border of childhood into adolescence as she goes back and forth between countries every day, and as she matures, she joins the viewer in taking the conundrums of the border more seriously and personally. This short film will provoke profound conversations about immigration reform in living rooms and classrooms across America.
The filmmaking approach to Life on the Line elegantly interweaves observational scenes with interviews, animation, third party news clips, and text cards that help advance the story as needed. Life on the Line is a social issue film that eschews pedantic instruction and sentimentality in favor of subtle and empathetic storytelling. We don’t generally go along for the ride unless we can empathize with the characters––and the filmmakers successfully elicit our compassion, which fuels our curiosity and reveals a more nuanced way of looking at the world. Life on the Line doesn’t provide easy and formulaic answers. Instead, it successfully does what the best documentaries do: it transports us into someone else’s life, shows a different perspective, and leaves us thinking.
Life on the Line tells the story of millions of children whose lived realities epitomize what mestiza-feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldúa called “a struggle of borders” through a close-up look at one young girl who bravely tries to hold her family together in the face of great economic, social, emotional and political assault. As an antidote to the commonly xenophobic and dehumanizing public attitudes and policies surrounding illegal immigration, this film offers a heartfelt and humanizing portrait of a one of the most pressing issues of our time. This short film provides rich analytical fodder for teachers of Anthropology, Sociology, and Women’s Studies classes to explore transnational families, hybrid consciousness, the quest for belonging, and the frequent dramaturgies of citizenship marked by rupture, liminality, heartbreak and hope.