Just two years ago, the Torrez family looked a lot like many American families: Mexican-American with immigrant roots, multilingual and multicultural, working class with two kids in public schools getting a decent education, living in a mid-sized American city and weathering the economic downturn with any work the primary bread-winner could find. But in an instant, everything changed.
After fourteen years of living undocumented in the U.S., Vanessa Torrez crossed into Mexico when visiting her dying mother, and as the only family member without U.S. citizenship, was not allowed to return to her family in the U.S. So the Torrez family left everything behind and moved to Nogales, Sonora, committed to remaining together.
Now, while the family lives in a dilapidated public housing compound at a dangerous border crossing, Kimberly must cross the border daily on foot to go to school in the U.S. Meanwhile, her father, Rick, finds himself unemployed, stricken with Hepatitis C, and in dire need of a liver transplant. Vanessa travels to Juarez to obtain the visa that will allow her to live in the U.S. with her children if her husband dies.
Told through the eyes of adolescent Kimberly over the year in which her family is forced to straddle two countries, Life on the Line offers an intimate story from a quintessentially American place, illuminating the changing face of America and the impact of our immigration policies through the story of one girl and her family.
"Life on the Line tells the story of millions of children whose lived realities epitomize what mestiza-feminist theorist Gloria Anzaldua 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."
Clara Magliola, Sociology and Women's Studies Professor, Chapman University
If you are a student or a professor:Watch now
If you are a librarian or a professor: