Meet globalization personally, at one of its major touchdown points: Tijuana, also known as Maquilapolis (city of maquiladoras, or sweatshops). Lourdes, Yesenia, and Carmen take us on a tour, with the expert and elegant help of directors Vicky Funari and Sergio De La Torre, who worked with a transborder rights organization for years in order to get this film made. MAQUILAPOLIS gives the viewer a fascinating look at the experiences of the usually invisible women who work at these maquiladoras. Through bold, imaginative imagery-video diaries, interviews, visits to homes and hulking factories-we see the costs of globalization. Stop-motion photography, vivid symbols (color-coded uniforms in slow-motion close-up, representing the reduction of a life to menial toil), and even choreography (the women perform the remembered, mechanized hand motions of their former jobs in tai chi-like gestures) are some of the ways reportage becomes reflection and statement. The film is structured around two struggles: Lourdes works with Yesenia and other allies to clean up an abandoned factory site that is polluting the water, while Carmen works to win severance pay owned to her by a transnational company. There is no pithy victimization here; the women we meet are smart, tough, hardworking organizers. There is also a lack of knee-jerk politics. These women came to Tijuana for the chance to work, and they gratefully found it. But many were laid off when certain maquiladoras moved to Indonesia and other even cheaper locales, so what the women want now is simply the chance to keep working under conditions that don't poison the land and for a wage that allows them to feed their children.
Vicky Funari began her film career in 1985 as an assistant director on Working Girls. She produced, directed, and edited the acclaimed nonfiction feature film Paulina, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1998 San Francisco International Film Festival and the 1998 Hamptons Film Festival. Funari teamed up with Julia Query to direct and edit the award-winning Live Nude Girls Unite!, a documentary on the first successful strippers' union in the country.
Sergio De La Torre is a photographer, performance artist, and installation artist. His photographic, performance, and installation works have focused on issues regarding diaspora/tourism and identity politics. In 1995, De La Torre cofounded the performance/installation group Los Tricksters. De La Torre's works, Access Denied, Disappearing, and Mexiclone have appeared in numerous museums in the Americas.