Entertainment

A Desperate Mother Makes A Heartbreaking Decision In ‘Paper Boats’ To Spare Her Children From Immigration Policy Realities

While the country is rightly outraged at the current administration’s family separation policies that place children in concentration camps, “Paper Boats” offers the alternative storyline. Directed by Yago Muñoz, “Paper Boats” is a story about three young siblings who grew up in New York City, forced to move to México with their grumpy abuelo to avoid being placed in the foster system as their mother, Alma, faces deportation. Carolina, José, and Tomás, learn to navigate going from the city jungle of New York to the middle of nowhere desert in México with their abuelo who doesn’t understand English.

The first scenes of the trailer are as idyllic as it gets.

Credit: Desierto Films / Vimeo

The cityscape of New York at night lingers as we hear a young girl’s whisper, “Let’s go wake up mommy.” Three children, one in a princess costume, rush to wake up their young mother, Alba, by trampling all over her in bed. Laughter. She chases after them as they run to the park for ice cream. Then, we hear Alba’s voice, “Will I get deported?”

The first scenes feel familial–a Latino family comfortable in their New York City lives.

Credit: Desierto Films / Vimeo

“Paper Boats” seems to scream the possibility of familial feeling in highly contrasted situations. Alba stands staring at a subway as it zooms past her, as industrious as New York is known to be. We hear Alba bargain with her lawyer, “But I didn’t do anything wrong.” He tells her, “Alba, you crossed the border illegally ten years ago. It’s time to think of your children.” She needs to find a guardian that she trusts to care for the children, because the government can legally take away her children, American citizens, given that she committed the crime of crossing the border.

In seeming total contrast with Alba and the New York subway system is Alba’s father, Jorge, staring out over the vast Mexican desert.

Credit: Desierto Films / Vimeo

Jorge and Alba’s relationship is strained over border policies. She crossed to give her kids a better life, but it meant that she couldn’t return to México for her own mother’s funeral. Jorge still doesn’t understand why she left, and why she didn’t come back. Jorge’s grown comfortable with his isolated ranchero lifestyle, fishing by trade, and enjoying the solitude of the desert by night. 

Suddenly, Jorge must care for his three grandchildren, whom he’s never met, and he’s grisly about it.

Credit: Desierto Films / Vimeo

He doesn’t seem to take the responsibilities too seriously and even arrives at the airport late. These darkened silhouettes of strangers meeting for the first time invariably illuminates as the familial bonds are formed. It takes a while though.

“No te entiendo!” he shouts at los niños their first night with him. 

Credit: Desierto Films / Vimeo

The kids try to explain that they don’t eat fish and that the youngest has dietary restrictions. The three jóvenes and their abuelo end up staring blankly at each other–one side not understanding why they won’t eat, and the other not understanding why they aren’t being fed.

At first, the viewer is concerned that Jorge just tosses three young kids in the back of a pickup truck, but then it becomes delightful.

Credit: Desierto Films / Vimeo

We watch the children’s lives with a protective mother in the streets of New York transform into campo kids, wearing cowboy hats and even peeing out the back of a pickup truck. Imagine any of our mothers letting us do that. No puedo.

A new understanding of family is born, and we enjoy it fleetingly.

Credit: Desierto Films / Vimeo

As the novelty of the desert and their upended lives weans, the children miss their mother. The adult audience understands that the immigration system is complicated, winding, and unjust, but “Paper Boats” is telling the story through the lens of a child. There’s no anger at the system, or even the sound of Trump narrating in the background, “When Mexico sends their people, they’re not you, or you.” There’s just grief.

The brave children pack their bags and wander into the desert, following the railroad to find their mother.

Credit: Desierto Films / Vimeo

The trailer trails off as we see Jorge go after the children the next morning. But, like paper boats, the journey home is often undertaken by the current of the journey itself.

READ: A Border Vigilante Hunts Down Immigrants In The Intense Trailer For ‘Desierto’

One Of Mexico’s Biggest Beer Brands Is In Hot Water After Using Guillermo Del Toro’s Art Work Without His Permission

Entertainment

One Of Mexico’s Biggest Beer Brands Is In Hot Water After Using Guillermo Del Toro’s Art Work Without His Permission

@redAMLOmexico / Twitter

Artists often take inspiration from the works of other artists. This happens across all forms of art, from playwriting to musical composition to poetry. It certainly happens in the visual arts as well, where artists will make references or even directly incorporate aspects of another artist’s work into their own. But reproducing and selling an artist’s works without his or her explicit consent, consists of copyright infringement. That’s kind of what Cerveza Victoria is looking at, after their ‘limited edition’ Guillermo del Toro beer collection dropped — without Del Toro’s approval. 

On today’s case of “Who approved this?,” Grupo Modelo —the large Mexican brewery that exports beers we all know and love, such as Corona, Modelo, Pacifico and Victoria— managed to anger one of the most beloved Mexicans in the world: Guillermo del Toro.

Cerveza Victoria, recently announced a beer can collection featuring three specially designed cans featuring the director’s face, and two of his iconic monsters; one from his acclaimed film “Pan’s Labyrinth,” the other from his Oscar winning picture “The Shape of Water.”

The cans, designed by illustrator Guy Davis, were to be sold in convenience stores in Mexico City, Jalisco, San Luis Potosí, Michoacán and México state.

Here’s where things turn sour. Guillermo del Toro called out Victoria, and Grupo Modelo, for using his image and those of his characters, without his permission.

‘The Shape of Water’ director tweeted at Cerveza Victoria on Thursday, and urged the company to donate all the profits raised from the sales of the beer collection to young students competing in math and robotics competitions. “Very poorly done, @VictoriaMX. These cans do not have my authorization, my consultation or my signature to use my image or my name . . .” he tweeted in Spanish.

But why, oh why, would a huge company such as Cerveza Victoria, follow through with such a massive marketing strategy like this without even asking the artist himself for his consent?

As it turns out, Victoria beer was one of the sponsors of Del Toro’s “At Home with my Monsters,” exhibition in Guadalajara, Mexico. The exhibit featured over 900 objects the Oscar-winning director used in the making of his films, such as costumes, notebooks, drawings and personal objects.

The exposition was on display at the University of Guadalajara Art Museum (MUSA) from June 1 to November 3 of this year, and we believe that perhaps this fact granted the beer maker, the liberties to run a whole collection of limited edition cans with the artist’s face and work emblazoned all over them — without expressly asking for his take on it, much less his permission.

The beer maker took to Twitter to “apologize”.

Victoria, by Grupo Modelo, tried and failed to contain this crisis by tweeting that “they would never take liberties with something like this,” when in fact, they did — smh. The company, however, did apologize and admitted to making a mistake:

“We would never take liberties with something like this, @RealGDT. We are reviewing where the wires got crossed. Apart from this, we will continue to support Mexican talent as we have done up to now,” tweeted the company.

But in another twist of events, the very next day, Victoria deleted all tweets, images and every single trace of the ‘Guillermo del Toro’ campaign from the company’s social media — including the half-assed apology tweet.

On Thursday of the same week, Del Toro tweeted out that things had been patched up between himself and the beer maker.

At the end of last week, the director announced that the beer company’s faux pas was a thing of the past, and that the two managed to find a solution: “The misunderstanding has been fixed in good will. The cans with my signature will be substituted by a new graphic project (with no profit for me) and the proceeds will be going to @CDMXOMM and @SOMEXICO_ Thank you,” he tweeted in Spanish.

The organizations mentioned in the critically acclaimed director’s tweet, work for causes he continually supports.

@CDMXOMM is Mexico City’s math olympics, an academic program that helps students and young people develop their creative math skills. @SOMexico_ or Special Olympics Mexico, is an organization that offers sports training and support for intellectually disabled athletes.

Del Toro has supported these causes in the past and continues to champion children’s academic needs.

When he’s not directing award-winning films or being celebrated at award shows, the director works closely with organizations, supporting students’ ambitions in math, animation and now, sports. Only this year, he offered a full scholarship to young Deborah Balboa for a Masters in Arts and Animation at the best university in Paris, France. Also this year, in March, he helped two students attend university to study film thanks to the Jenkins-Del Toro scholarship. He also paid for two students to attend a math world tournament in England, from his own pocket.

Our Tías’ Nacimientos Will Never Be The Same Since Mexico Has Outlawed Buying And Selling The Moss

Culture

Our Tías’ Nacimientos Will Never Be The Same Since Mexico Has Outlawed Buying And Selling The Moss

sony_a6000photos / Instagram / Pinterest

Growing up Mexican I looked forward to the Christmas season yes, tbh mostly because of presents but also because it was the time when mom and I got to go way overboard with our Nativity Scene decorations. If you’re Latino, putting up a nacimiento is just as essential a part of Christmas, as putting up a tree. If there’s one cliche that has proven to be true, time and again, it’s that Latino moms tend to be extra AF in everything they do. The representations of Jesus’s birth vary from minimal, to OTT baroque, to hyper-realistic. There’s one element that remains the most important aspect of the nacimiento across the board, in Mexico at least, the moss and other dense green clumps are usually used to adorn the decoration. So, what if we told you that buying and selling moss is actually illegal in Mexico?

Nacimiento, Pesebre, or Belen, are the names that different Latin American countries give to the traditional Nativity Scene representation under the Christmas tree.

Credit: Pinterest

The representation of Jesus’s birth, known as nacimiento in Mexico, pesebre in Colombia and other South American countries, or Belen in Spain, is a centuries-old tradition in the Catholic world. All you really need to tell the story are three basic figures: Virgin Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. But why limit yourself? 

You could make the case that the three wise men and the star that guided them to the newborn baby are also essential. Jesus was born in a stable because there was no place at the inns in Bethlehem, so naturally, there should be farm animals around, and hay, and moss —and why not a stream made of cellophane, while you’re at it? 

Nativity Scenes are usually elaborate, over the top extravaganzas that families work tirelessly on for the holiday season.

In Mexico and many other countries of Latin America, nacimientos can turn into elaborate extravaganzas, populated by all manner of animals and plants that you would never find side by side in the real world. Some scenes display pump-operated rivers with real water, others feature waterfalls and ponds. Some include whole cities built around the manger where Jesus was born. The creative license extends to the characters, which range from unrelated biblical figures such as Adam and Eve to random shepherds, farmers, and the devil. It’s clearly not an exercise in authenticity, but it’s festive and fun.

Part of the fun is the use of moss and other types of grass to add to the ‘look’. 

Credit: Pinterest

Moss is used to decorate the scene, but it also has a special symbolism. Spanish moss is of particular importance in the catholic representation of baby Jesus’s birth. A little patch of the gray grass is always placed underneath Satan —to highlight his presence and set him apart from the rest of the crowd. According to tradition, Satan should always be present in a nacimiento to remind us that although the birth of Jesus offers love and the possibility of redemption, sin and evil are always present in the world —and moss plays a big part in his representation.

As soon as November starts drawing to an end and December is around the corner, every mercado in Mexico is flooded by vendors who sell the coveted greenery of the season. 

Credit: @jjoel777 / Twitter

Every city and town has a market where, for about a month between the end of November and the first week in January, a large number of vendors offer items, especially for Christmas.  Some larger cities, like Mexico City, Guadalajara, Morelia, and others, offer several tianguis navideños (Christmas markets) where literally hundreds of vendors set up shop, to sell the infamous moss. 

But as it turns out, selling and/or buying moss is illegal.

Credit: losconfites_organicfarm / Instagram

This type of grass is essential for the survival of Mexican forests. The species is protected by the country, which makes its trade ilegal —and you might want to think twice before you buy it. 

Mosses are actually essential for the health and wellbeing of many ecosystems and all the organisms that inhabit them.

Credit: sony_a6000photos / Instagram

The term moss encompasses any of at least 12,000 species of small land plants. Mosses are distributed throughout the world except in saltwater and are commonly found in moist shady locations. They are best known as those species that carpet woodland and forest floors. Ecologically, mosses capture water and filter it to underground streams, or substrata, releasing nutrients for the use of more complex plants that succeed them. They also aid in soil erosion control by providing surface cover and absorbing water, and they are important in the nutrient and water economy of some vegetation types. Essentially, they are the pulse of forests and ecosystems everywhere.

Protection and conservation are relatively novel concepts in Mexican bryology, the branch of botany that studies mosses. 

Credit: @elbigdatamx / Twitter

Mexico is home to more than 900 recorded species of moss —and much of the country’s territory is yet to be explored thoroughly for more flora. However, local mosses face habitat destruction and over-harvesting as their major threat. 

In 1993, a diagnostic study of mosses that required protection Mexico was conducted, and supported by the federal government as well as other international agencies. At the time, six species were recognized as ‘rare’ or ‘endangered’ and were placed under official protection. 

The Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources of Mexico regulates the extraction and trade of moss. 

Credit: @iinfodeac / Twitter

In order to extract moss from its natural habitat, and furthermore, to commercialize it, vendors must follow strict requirements in order to attain a license. According to Mexican Forest Law 001 expedited by SEMARNAT (The Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources of Mexico), the extraction of moss is only permitted when the plant is in a mature state and ready for harvest, other conditions require that moss must be extracted in parcels of no more than 2 meters of width and that only 50 percent of each patch of moss may be extracted, etc. 

During this time of year, Mexican police are on high alert. 

Credit: @mimorelia / Twitter

Around the holiday season, police in Mexico double up on their patrolling. Authorities will be on high alert, inspecting those establishments who are authorized to sell moss and searching for those who aren’t. The Secretariat of Environmental and Natural Resources and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection will be watching —so you might want to tell your mom and tias to avoid shopping for moss in Mexico this year.

READ: Check Out Some Of The Most Tiny And Adorable Nacimientos