RIDM 2015 Review: Llévate mis amores (All of Me)

In a scene from the film LlŽevate mis amores, a member of the group Las Patronas holds bags of food for Central American migrants travelling north on a freight train.
In a scene from the film LlŽévate mis amores, a member of the group Las Patronas holds bags of food for Central American migrants travelling north on a freight train.

Llévate mis amores (All of Me) is a film about a group of Mexican women known as Las Patronas, after La Patrona, their village in Veracruz state. They’re poor in possessions, but rich in humanity and love. Even though they have very little themselves, they work hard to help people who have even less than they do.

Since 1995 they have been preparing food and water for migrants from Central America who ride freight trains through Mexico into the U.S. The trains are called La Bestia (the Beast), or sometimes, the Train of Death, because people can die if they fall off. The migrants are victims of a bad economy and globalization – there isn’t enough work in their home countries and they can only travel via freight trains because passenger service ended when the Mexican railroads were privatized in the 1990s. A train might have as many as 800 riders, with some inside the boxcars cars, others on the roof or even hanging precariously between the cars. The train is not the only danger on the trip – there are crooked police, thieves, kidnappers, human traffickers and extortionists.

Every day the women cook huge pots of rice and beans and make tortillas over wood fires. They pack the food in plastic bags and fill recycled bottles with water. When they hear the whistle of an approaching train, they rush to the tracks to toss the food and water to the migrants, who hold their hands out eagerly. They never know when the trains will come or how many there might be.

In this scene from the documentary film LlŽevate mis amores (All of Me), a Central American migrant is able to call her mother, thanks to the helpful women known as Las Patronas.
In this scene from the documentary film LlŽévate mis amores (All of Me), a Central American migrant is able to call her mother, thanks to the helpful women known as Las Patronas.

Some migrants jump off the train for the food, and then they can’t get back on. When that happens, they are driven to the next place that the train stops or slows down. That’s not all that La Patronas do. They have taken injured migrants to hospitals, and on those occasions when doctors or hospitals refused to help, they have nursed them back to health themselves. They lend people cellphones so they can check in with their families.

When the director asks the women to describe themselves the younger ones talk of their hopes for the future (to be a lawyer or a journalist) while the older ones talk about their pasts – one had an abusive husband who was murdered, another had a potential husband who stayed up north too long, yet another was pulled out of school at a young age because someone told her father that the vaccinations given to students would cause sterility. One woman liked to sing and dance; she had wanted to be in a band. Some worked in the fields, others worked as maids; those with children want them to have a better life.

Llévate mis amores (All of Me) is truly inspirational; long before it was over I was wondering what I could do to make the world a better place. It was great to see the screening sell out, too. You can buy tickets online to make sure that you get in. Director Arturo González Villaseñor will be at the screening to answer questions after the film. When asked if the film will be available for rent or purchase he said that it probably will be eventually, but for now it’s still making the rounds of film festivals.
Llévate mis amores (All of Me)Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, 9:15 p.m., Excentris (Salle Cassavetes), 3536 St Laurent Blvd.

RIDM (Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal) runs from Nov. 12-22, 2015. Visit the web site ridm.qc.ca for more information.

RIDM 2015: My suggestions for Sunday, Nov. 22, the last day of this year’s festival

A scene from the Mexican documentary Llevate mis amores (All of Me), one of many films being shown at RIDM, Montreal's documentary film festival.
A scene from the Mexican documentary Llevate mis amores (All of Me), one of many films being shown at RIDM, Montreal’s documentary film festival.

Before I go to bed tonight, I hope to write proper reviews of these films that I’m suggesting to you, but for now, I’ll just write a short description to get something online as soon as possible.

Click on the underlined name of a film to be taken to the synopsis on the RIDM web site.

Oncle Bernard – L’anti-Leçon d’économie
Words of wisdom from the late economist Bernard Maris. He was one of the people killed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo earlier this year.
Oncle Bernard – L’anti-leçon d’économie, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, 7 p.m., Excentris (Salle Cassavetes)

The next two films are on at the same time. What a shame, and what a quandary, because I think they’re both wonderful. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest Llévate mis amores (All of Me), directed by Arturo González Villaseñor, as a first choice because there is no guarantee that it will come back to Montreal again, though I truly hope that it does. This is a film about people in Mexico, mostly women, who do a lot to help others, even though they have very little themselves. Every day they prepare food and water for migrants who are making their way north to the U.S. by train. RIDM says it is “A wonderful human adventure,” but that’s really an understatement. It’s inspiring! Seriously.

This film was sold out on Saturday, so if you want to see it, consider buying your tickets online to avoid disappointment. I almost missed it myself.  I thought that Saturday’s screening was the second, and last one. I am so glad that it isn’t, so that I can suggest it to you. Director Arturo González Villaseñor will be at the screening to answer questions after the film.

Llévate mis amores (All of Me), Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, 9:15 p.m., Excentris (Salle Cassavetes)
Another film that starts at 9:15 p.m. is Le Bouton de nacre (El botón de nácar in Spanish, The Pearl Button in English), directed by Patricio Guzmán. It’s quite wonderful too, but given Guzman’s fame, it is more likely to return to Montreal screens. (Guzmán directed Nostalgia For The Light, one of my very favourite documentaries, along with Salvador Allende, The Pinochet Case, The Battle of Chile, and others.)

Le Bouton de nacre is about water, the universe, Chile’s native peoples and the disappeared of the Pinochet years. It is full of beautiful images and sounds and also contains tales of incredible horror. Some of those tales are quite recent, while others are much older.
Le Bouton de nacre, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, 9:15 p.m., Cinéma du Parc 2

I have seen the three films above, and recommend them wholeheartedly.

In Police Academie (Cop Class) director Mélissa Beaudet follows “three very different cadets during their final year of training.” It sounds interesting, and it has received good reviews, but it starts at 9 p.m., which puts it in conflict with Llévate mis amores (All of Me) and Le Bouton de nacre (El botón de nácar). Police Academie will be shown at Excentris starting on Nov. 27, and it will be on TV (ICI RDI) on Jan. 16, 2016.
Police Academie (Cop Class), Sunday, Nov. 22, 2015, 9 p.m., Cinéma Du Parc 1
RIDM (Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal) runs from Nov. 12-22, 2015. Visit the web site ridm.qc.ca for more information.