The independent film, “Smuggled,” directed by Ramon Hamilton, is a genuine drama created to answer “why immigrants cross the border,” and put viewers in the shoes of the illegal immigrants.
The film was screened at CSUSB in the John M. Pfau Library Oct. 10 and tells the story of Miguel and his mother as they embark on a journey towards America as stowaways on a bus.
Miguel, played by Ramsses Letrado, is being questioned by two police officers, played by Cisco Marcial and Garrett Marchbank, whom are trying to help Miguel but struggle to gain his trust as he suspects that they are trying to deport him.
“Smuggled” is a strong independent film that captures the love between a mother and son.
Letrado and Denisse Bon do well in their portrayal of a mother and son, their performance transcends beyond race by allowing the audience to empathize with the characters.
The director does well in crafting realistic situations; such as the officers who choose to go against their training to make a choice that they know is morally correct.
The film’s weak points come from tertiary characters whom often sound like parodies of blue collar workers; however this doesn’t detract from the film’s overall accomplishments.
Miguel and his mother traveled in a container, which gave a sense of claustrophobia and anxiety during the movie, as the audience can imagine the discomfort of being inside a such a small space as Miguel struggles to make do in such a confined area.
In a Q&A screening on campus, the director, Ramon Hamilton, said, “I wanted to make something powerful and engaging by showing what some individuals go through without a major Hollywood budget”.
“I thought of the tremendous amount of sacrifice,” said Hamiton as we expressed his concerns about drawing real life experiences into his story.
Although he did not disclose the film’s budget, he stated that it was considered a “Micro-budget” film by Screen Actor’s Guild standards.
The simplicity of the film has not impeded on its success in various film festivals and campuses.
It was awarded the Official Selection at the 2012 Big Bear Lake International Film Festival as well as being the Official Selection at the 2012 SoCal Film Festival.
Blogger Lee Romero of corrientelatina.com stated, “The magic that exists within the core of this film clearly eliminates the negative and accentuates the positive”.
“Overall, it’s a pretty nice film that touches people,” said Romero.
Gabriella Bondi of The Young Folks blog stated, “Movies have the power to take us out of our own little world and transport us into someone else’s.”
Bondi added, “It’s then that we can learn or experience how someone else lives and I’ve found that’s a very effective way to get people interested in immigration reform and these kind of issues.”
Among smaller films that are gaining traction through the internet, “Smuggled” is one that deserves being watched by fans of indie films and those that are looking for a sincere drama.