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.
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.