CineMujer preview, pt. 1

If you’ve heard of the T Don Hutto detention facility but don’t know much about it, tomorrow night’s a great night to get enlightened at the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center’s CineMujer Film Festival.

At 7:00 pm they will screen Hutto: America’s Family Prison, a pithy 17-minute, bilingual overview of the facility’s history, the controversy surrounding it, and current conditions. Filmmakers Lily Keber and Matt Gossage include interviews with employees of the University of Texas immigration clinic, the ACLU of Texas, a child psychologist, and detainees, along with images of the facility (inside and out), and documentation from news outlets like the New York Times.

The good folks at Esperanza were kind enough to provide me with a screener copy of the film, which I watched at work today. I was somewhat familiar with Hutto, the residential facility that "houses" immigrant families — many of them refugees — just north of Austin, but HAFP was still illuminating. The unique voices of the individuals Keber and Gossage interviewed is a big part of that. They incorporate these interviews as voiceovers, in the “talking head” style, and also with movement, as in an interviewee will show the camera around a certain area.

Music is woven into the film subtly and effectively, which may seem like a trivial thing to mention, as HAFP is filled with important, well-organized information, but even major Hollywood films do it so badly sometimes. I feel like it’s worth noting because a soundtrack that’s too loud, or not edited on beat, for example, could really get in the way of the message of this work.

Be sure to stick around after the film for a plática with HAFP’s filmmakers, who will be joined by activists and former Hutto detainees. I’m certain CineMujer will direct you to several avenues to get involved if you’re so moved.


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