Since 9/11, nearly 4 million people have been deported from the United States, 97% of them Latino. Mexican-American immigrants were hardest hit. Those who left Mexico years before to build a new life in the States, had families, and contributed to their communities, yet still had not achieved citizenship. Children were taken from parents, leaving tens of thousands as wards of the state. Many were deported without any hope of returning, their families trapped on the other side of the border.
Regardless of their country of origin, all Spanish-speaking immigrants are deported to the nearest Spanish speaking country, Mexico. Most land in Tijuana, at a rate of 400 a day. They are stripped of their identity and possessions and dropped off in Zona Norte, a dangerous, cartel-infested ghetto, where they are pursued relentlessly by police. Without support in Mexico, they remain homeless and desperate, and find themselves easy prey.
Disavowed by both nations, and abandoned to the streets to die, they are known in Tijuana as the "Plastic People." Their fate may have gone unnoticed by the world if it were not for one man, photographer Chris Bava, who moved to Tijuana to find a way of saving his life, and in the process, documented the plight of these people he saw as no different from himself.
Shot on location in Tijuana, this film follows the lives of a number of Mexican-American deportees living along the border just twenty miles from San Diego, while revealing how the exploitational policies of a failed war on drugs added Zone Norte to the growing international crisis of nationless refugees and deportees.
Spectral Alchemy, Lucidity, and Filament Features presents...
EXILE NATION: THE PLASTIC PEOPLE
Written, Produced & Directed by Charles Shaw
Produced by Ronnie Pontiac, Mitch Schultz, Tamra Spivey & DJ Turner
Edited by Daniel Garcia
Music by Random Rab
Principle Photography by Charles Shaw
Additional Photography by Taylor Cahill, Javier Godinez Mondragon, Jorge Nieto
Sound Supervisor - Dennis LaFollette
Featuring the photography of Chris Bava