The Tijuana Project: Showing in a film festival near you!

John Sheedy’s documentary, The Tijuana Project, is being accepted to film festivals across the country right now.   If you hear of it coming to a city near you, watch it!  What a great story about families living inside the Tijuana municipal dumps.

Click here to read a story I wrote about the film and its directors.

Click here to listen to a radio interview I did with the film director.

The transcript of the piece is below:

Durango filmmaker finishes a film about kids living in the Tijuana dumps by Kinsee Morlan Durango, Colo. DJ INTRO: A DURANGO FILMMAKER PUTS THE FINISHING TOUCHES ON A DOCUMENTARY THAT TOOK MORE THAN TWO YEARS IN THE MAKING. THE FILMS TELLS THE STORY OF FAMILIES LIVING INSIDE A MUNICIPAL DUMP IN TIJUANA, MEXICO. KSUT INDEPENDENT PRODUCER KINSEE MORLAN HAS MORE.

NAT SOUND: MUSIC, KIDS PLAYING IN DUMP.

KINSEE MORLAN: JOHN SHEEDY SPENT PART OF HIS CHILDHOOD IN DURANGO, BUT HE EVENTUALLY FOLLOWED HIS FILMMAKING CAREER TO FAUSTO GONZALEZ, A SMALL NEIGHBORHOOD IN TIJUANA WHERE FAMILIES WORK AND LIVE IN THE CITY’S DUMP. AFTER FINISHING “EL INMIGRANT,” A FILM ABOUT THE MURDER OF A MEXICAN IMMIGRANT, JOHN WANTED TO STAY AWAY FROM BORDER POLITICS FOR AWHILE AND DO A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT KIDS. BUT AN AUTHOR IN SAN DIEGO TOLD HIM ABOUT THE TIJUANA DUMP AND ALL THE KIDS LIVING IN SUCH A DIRE SITUATION AND JOHN SET OFF TO AT LEAST HAVE A LOOK.

JOHN SHEEDY: I THOUGHT ABOUT IT FOR AWHILE AND I COULDN’T RESIST GOING DOWN AND AFTER ONE DAY OF GOING DOWN AND SEEING THIS GIANT MASS OF GARBAGE LOOMING ABOVE TIJUANA WITH THESE CLOUDS OF SEAGULLS OVER HEAD AND PROBBLY FIVE OR SIX HUNDRED PEOPLE IN THERE I JUST COULDN’T RESIST GOING BACK, I JUST COULDN’T BELIEVE PEOPLE WERE LIVING IN AN ENVIRONMENT LIKE THAT SO…

KINSEE MORLAN: SO JOHN TOOK HIS CAMERAS AND EQUIPMENT DOWN AND STARTED SHOOTING A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT A FAMILY AND A FEW OF THE KIDS LIVING AND WORKING IN THE DUMP. HIS LENS SWOOPS IN ON THE MASS OF WORKERS WADING KNEE DEEP IN GARBAGE TO GATHER RECYCLABLES AND, EVENTUALLY, HIS CAMERA IS TAKEN OVER BY THE KIDS WHO PERHAPS GET THE MOST STARTLING FOOTAGE THEMSELVES OF THE DRUG USE AND THE CHOP SHOP, WHICH ARE BOTH GOING ON RIGHT OUTSIDE THEIR DOORS . JOHN’S FIRST DAY IN THE DUMP WAS ABOUT TWO AND A HALF YEARS AGO, AND THIS WEEK THE YOUNG FILMMAKER SAYS HE’S READY WITH A DIRECTOR’S CUT. IF HIS CREW CAN JUST RAISE A LITTLE BIT MORE MONEY, HE SAYS THE FILM WILL BE COMPLETELY DONE WITHIN A MATTER OF MONTHS. BUT THE DIRECTOR’S CUT IS PRETTY CLOSE TO WHAT PEOPLE WILL END UP SEEING, AND JOHN EXPLAINS HOW THE FILM ENDED UP TAKING SHAPE.

JOHN SHEEDY: THE TIJUANA PROJECT IS THE STORY OF THE KIDS IN THE TIJUANA GARBAGE DUMP AND IT’S A PROFILE OF SIX OF THOSE KIDS. A DAY IN THE LIFE, OR IN THIS CASE, A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF THESE KIDS. THEY’RE ALL BETWEEN 9 AND 13. IT’S A BIT OF A COMING OF AGE STORY. WATCHING THESE KIDS GROW UP IN THIS ENVIRONMENT AND WORK IN THE DUMP AND THEIR STRUGGLES THEY WENT THROUGH, THE DRUGS THEY’RE UP AGAINST AND ULTIMATELLY THE HOPE OF A SCHOOL THAT WAS BUILT IN THEIR NEIGHBORHOOD. SO THE VIEWERS AREN’T LEFT HANGING.

KINSEE MORLAN: THERE IS A BIT OF A SURPRISE ENDING, THOUGH, THAT NOT EVEN JOHN PREDICTED. ABOUT HALFWAY THROUGH MAKING THE MOVIE, THE CITY CLOSED DOWN THE DUMP IN FAUSTO GONZALES AND MOVED IT ABOUT THIRTY FIVE MILES AWAY. WHEN WATCHING THE FILM, YOU EXPECT THE FAMILIES TO FIND BETTER JOBS OUTSIDE THE DUMPS, BUT AS THEY EXPLAIN IN THE FILM, THE FACTORY JOBS PAY A LOT LESS THAN THEY MAKE BY RECYCLING THE GLASS AND METAL THEY CAN FIND IN A DAY. IT’S A BIT HEARTBREAKING, BUT THE WORKERS HIRE A BUSDRIVER TO TAKE THEM TO THE NEW DUMP OUTSIDE THE CITY SO THEY CAN CONTINUE THEIR WORK.

JOHN SHEEDY: THAT REALLY OPENED MY EYES, THAT HERE WITH NAFTA GOING THROUGH AND AMERICAN COUNTRIES SETTING UP FACTORIES, MANY OF THESE DUMP WORKERS HAVE WORKED IN THESE FACTORIES AND HAVE FOUND THAT THEY’RE GETTING PAID $10 A DAY MAYBE AT THE MOST WHEREAS IF THEY CAN WORK AT THE GARGABE DUMP THEY MIGHT AVERGAE $20-$25 A DAY WHICH IS A LITTLE BIT BETTER MONEY IN MEXICO AND IT’S MUCH BETTER THAN WORKING IN FACTORIES.

KINSEE MORLAN: AND YET AS JOHN SAID EARLIER, THERE IS A BIT OF HOPE IN THE FILM. A VISIT FROM A NEW YORK TEACHER ENDED WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF A BRAND-NEW SCHOOL FOR THE KIDS IN THE DUMP.

JOHN SHEEDY: DAVID LYNCH, AND HE’S NOT THE FILMMAKER, HE’S THE OTHER DAVID LYNCH AND HE WENT OU WITH A CHURCH GROUP IN 1981 AND VOWED HE’D NEVER GO BACK BECAUSE THE PLACE SMELLED SO BAD. BUT AS THESE TYPE OF LIFE-CHANGING PROJECTS GO HE COULDN’T RESIST GOING BACK. LITTLE BY LITTLE HE KEPT COMIGN BACK AND HE WOULD LAY OUT A BLUE TARP AND TEACH CLASSES. AND ULTIMATELY HE GOT ENOUGH DONATIONS TO BUILD A SCHOOL…..PART WAY THROUGH THE PROJECT WE DID AN ART WORKSHOP. SO IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY TO BREAK THE CYCLE OF ONLY WORKING IN THE DUMP.

KINSEE MORLAN: CASE AND POINT IS FELIPE, WHO GREW UP WORKING IN THE DUMP AND IS NOW A TEACHER AT DAVID LYNCH’S SCHOOL. HERE’S A PIECE OF FELIPE’S INTERVIEW FROM THE FILM.

FELIPE: I STARTED IN THE BASURA, THE GARBAGE, WHEN I WAS FIVE YEARS OLD. BY SIX, I WAS WORKING THE DUMP. COLLECTING FOOD, GLASS, PLASTICS. DO YOU LIKE WORKIGN WITH DAVID LYNCH? YEAH, I LOVE IT. I LOVE WORKIGN WITH THE KIDS AND THAT’S WHY I’M HERE.

KINSEE MORLAN: JOHN WILL BE HOLDING A PRIVATE SCREENING OF THE FILM THIS SUNDAY AT THE ABBEY IN HOPES OF RAISING SOME MONEY TO HELP PUT THE FINISHING TOUCHES ON THE FILM. FOR KSUT PUBLIC RADIO, I’M KINSEE MORLAN.

DJ OUTRO: TO FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT “THE TIJUANA PROJECT,” VISIT WWW.TIJUANAPROJECT.ORG OR TO ATTEND THIS WEEKEND’S FUNDRAISER, CALL JOHN SHEEDY AT 970-259-7614.

About Kinsee Morlan

Arts and web editor at San Diego CityBeat. Interested in art and the Tijuana/San Diego border.
This entry was posted in Art & culture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Tijuana Project: Showing in a film festival near you!

  1. Three of our students just shot part of their semester film projects in Tijuana and reported a good filming experience. We posted their story on the New York FIlm Academy Blog http://www.nyfa.com/film-school-blog/film-students-shoot-cinematography-projects-in-tijuana-mexico/

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