About the Director
Yolanda Cruz is an award-winning Chatino filmmaker from Oaxaca, Mexico. Cruz, a Sundance Institute Native Lab Fellow, has produced seven documentaries on native people in the US and Mexico. Her first film while a graduate student UCLA, Entre Sueños, was selected to the Sundance Film Festival in 2000. Her other films include: Women Who Organize, a look at Mixtec women who have created a mini-credit to provide emergency funds to their community; Sueños Binacionales, a documentary about the bi-national experience of indigenous immigrants from Mexico; Guenati'za (The Visitors) is the story of Ulises, an Indian Zapotec who is a gardener in Los Angeles. The film follows him back to his community to host a traditional party in the Northern Mountains of Oaxaca; and MENA features the stories of a group of indigenous women who are organizing the exportation of their product, the nopal cactus, to the United States. Her recent film, 2501 Migrants: A Journey is a feature-length documentary that explores global migration through the beauty of Oaxacan artist, Alejandro Santiago. Upon his return from France to his village, Teococuilco, Alejandro experiences, first hand, the reality that Oaxaca has emerged as one of Mexico s leading exporters of human labor to the United States. Inspired by this, he decides to create a monumental installation art piece: 2,501 life-size sculptures an homage to each migrant who left his village. The film was an Official Selection as the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and was the Winner for Best Documentary Film at the Expresión en Corto International Film Festival. Additionally, the film has screened as LACMA, the Santa Barbra Museum of Art and will be screening at the Smithsonian in New York and Washington DC during Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 - October 15). Her work has received the support from The Rockefeller Foundation, Latino Public Broadcasting and the Ford Foundation. It has also screened at film festivals and museums internationally, including the Sundance Film Festival, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Park la Villette in Paris and the National Institute of Cinema in Mexico City. Cruz is fluent in English, Spanish and Chatino, and harbors a passionate drive to increase the representation of indigenous people in the media. In 2003, she formed Petate Productions. The focus of the company is to transcribe the voices of sustainable indigenous communities in Mexico to their new, still very Oaxacan destinations throughout the U.S. Yolanda currently lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband.
Daily, thousands of primarily poor and young indigenous Mexicans abandon their native homes. They start voyages to the first world in search of jobs and the hope of a brighter future - or, any economic future at all. In their wake, they leave behind the hollow footprints of a cultural and domestic abandonment. 2,501 Migrants: A Journey illustrates this through the story of Alejandro Aantiago, a middle-aged artist and family man from Oaxaca, Mexico. relatively affluent and erudite, Alejandro returns home after a brief self-exile in France. But upon arrival to his native Teococuilco, he is struck by what he perceives as a virtual ghost town. Alejandro experiences, first hand, the reality that Oaxaca has emerged as one of Mexico's leading exporters of human labor to the united states. Inspired by this, he decides to create a monumental installation art piece: 2,501 life-size sculptures - an homage to each individual migrant who left his village. Filmmaker and native Oaxacan, Yolanda Cruz, explores the questions of art and an indigenous community in the context of global migration and how that impacts the roots and livelihood of a small village. Alejandro's quiet demeanor and passion for art is celebrated and captured as respectfully and beautifully as each individual sculpture. His passion and his knowledge is shared with those who have stayed behind. They've dedicated their lives to this installation in honor of their small Oaxacan town. Special Features: Additional Interviews, Deleted Scenes, Slide Show, Trailers