EL PASO — Having to wake up every morning to get ready for school and get to class is something most American college students do not think twice about. But for Mexican students who live across the U.S./Mexico border, this simple task can become a challenging chore, which transports them into a more complex Americanized version of their own culture.
Award winning director Maru Buendía-Senties wrote and directed a 29-minute short film based on how students tend to compare their situations and cultures to one another when they come from opposites sides of the border and attend the same university. “Entre Líneas” was filmed on the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) campus and on the El Paso/Ciudad Juárez border. Buendía-Senties is also a UTEP alumnus.
In the opening scene of the film, Ricardo (Sergio Bonilla) is rushing to get ready for another day of school. As he finally reaches the border crossing, he faces a massive line of people waiting to cross from Cd. Juárez to El Paso, Texas. He explains to his professor that the long line at the border made him 30 minutes late for class. He then sits behind Caroline (Fátima Paola) asking for paper and a pen to begin his day at school. Ricardo giggles with Caroline saying that people from the El Paso side of the border have it so much easier than students from the Cd. Juárez side.
Hundreds of students from Cd. Juárez cross the border to El Paso to attend UTEP every day, they constantly compare each other with students who live in El Paso, when in reality more than most the UTEP campus is of Hispanic origin, according to the Center for Institutional Evaluation, Research and Planning. As of fall 2009 76 % of 21,011 students enrolled are Hispanic.
“Technically and in an aesthetic sense [I wanted] to show that Ciudad Juárez has a different facet, that not all in our border is immigration and drug trafficking. There are other more pleasant aspects and here we show it in a story about young people with the same origin but with different and clashing cultures without disturbing the relationship between Mexico and the U.S.,” said Francisco Buendía, Buendía-Senties’ father and producer of the film.
Throughout “Entre Líneas” Ricardo constantly jokes with Caroline, telling her that her name should never be pronounced “Carolina” because she lives in El Paso. He also playfully jokes about Mexican Americans eating quacamole because that’s a type of food that originated in Mexico. In a different scene Ricardo has a hard time convincing Caroline to accompany him to a bar in Cd. Juárez, she argues that it will take her a long time to cross the International Bridge and beside of all of that she probably won’t enjoy her because of the different atmosphere.
Director, Buendía-Senties, said that since she had lived a life similar to the lives of Caroline and Ricardo as depicted in “Entre Líneas.” she wanted to show how people from Mexico and El Paso mostly spring from the same origins but now their cultures tend to clash.
Ricardo Rojas, a UTEP senior who crosses the international bridge everyday and says he sometimes feels a little different from students who live in El Paso.
“My friends here in El Paso sometimes joke around with me and say I belong in Spanish-speaking bars, or when I speak to other friends in Spanish I convert into a Mexa, and they sometimes change my name from Ricardo Rojas to Ricky Reds, Rick, or Richard, it’s okay I guess, I just laugh,” Rojas said.
Because director Buendía-Senties understands biculturalism through her own experience, she wanted to show both Mexican and American cultures in a way that the stereotypes that plague both cultures are dissipated.
Hispanic Heritage Celebration 2009 is now happening at UTEP and several other films and works of literature will be presented throughout the school year. The next film in the schedule is “Death Squadron” by Marie-Monique Robin.
“Entre Líneas” was shown once at the University of Texas but a free copy can be requested at maru [at]bloodbankproductions.com. The official web site for “Entre Líneas” can be found at http://bloodbankproductions.com/?page_id=25.