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Which Way Home

4.7 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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(Jan 25, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This award-winning film and Academy Award nominee takes viewers along on freight trains with children from Mexico and Central America who are trying to get across the U.S. border and to a better life. Cammisa captures children begging for food, hopping the trains, and clinging to the tops of their dangerous rides. The film crew is so close to the action, viewers can almost feel the train lurch. While the journey itself is wrenching and suspenseful, Cammisa's best decision was to allow the travelers--adolescents without money, adult supervision, or basic human comforts--to do most of the talking. Their guileless recounting of how they came to be riding "The Beast" and what they hope for makes this an exceptional program. The risks of this activity are highlighted through the introduction of a young woman who lost her legs and a family that receives a coffin bearing the decomposed remains of a son who died on the trip. The film offers no solution but illustrates with each frame that finding one is crucial. Viewers who are moved to get involved can do so through the website www.whichwayhome.net. Bonus features include deleted scenes and English and Spanish versions of the film. Strongly recommended for children's and immigration advocacy groups and general viewers.--Joan Pedzich, Harris Beach PLLC, Rochester, NY Copyright 2011 Reed Business Information.

Amazon.com

Nominated for a 2010 Academy Award, Which Way Home, through its shocking depictions of neglected immigrant children struggling to sneak into America by train, manages to charm viewers into concern for its audacious young stars. Director Rebecca Cammisa's choice to focus almost exclusively on interviews with the train-hopping children, who range in age from roughly 8 to 18, makes this documentary infinitely more touching and effective. One gets a more well-rounded impression of the socioeconomic problem here; for every feeling of liberation the children experience, there are dangers lurking around the corner, several of which come to fruition during the filming period covered. For example, Kevin, a 14-year-old Honduran boy, and his pal, Yurico, a.k.a. "The Dog," a 17-year-old from Chiapas, occupy the bulk of the film footage, as the two boys and their cohorts ride "The Beast" through various territories. But as they skirt some sketchy situations, they can't help but tell stories of less lucky children who die on the trains en route to the United States. Additionally, tracing the aftereffects of their journey offers a less than ideal outcome for both boys. Many of the children in Which Way Home, like José from El Salvador, have experienced abandonment by their parents, who left in search of income and provided little in the way of role models. A few key scenes, like that filmed in the Guatemalan Consul where national officials interview boys before deporting them back to their home countries, and the scene showing Grupos Beta, a grassroots group that travels by van alongside the trains to provide free supplies and medical care to these children, are inspiring. Still, one comes to realize that the problem is overwhelming, as viewers gain access to the filthy flophouses, like House of Migrants, that are packed wall to wall with minors running away from home to find work. However, Cammisa captures a certain hobo humor here, which permeates the film's sad subject matter, as the boys tell jokes, lounge around with each other in the most brotherly ways, and care for each other in the absence of their parents. While Which Way Home chronicles a problem that demands attention, it does so in a touching manner, leaving its star characters' dignities intact as they confess their motivations, namely devout family loyalty. --Trinie Dalton

Product Details

  • Directors: Rebecca Cammisa
  • Producers: Andrew Holbrooke, Eric Goethals, Lorenzo Hagerman, Rebecca Cammisa, Benjamin Goldhirsh
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 8
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: January 25, 2011
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0042EJDGM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,353 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Which Way Home" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Harris HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on February 4, 2011
Format: DVD
A surprisingly effective and affecting documentary about children trying to migrate to the United States, "Which Way Home" tells a harrowing story of hope and disappointment. With four Emmy nominations and an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary Feature, I'm perplexed more people haven't commented on this powerful illustration of human perseverance. The film highlights a world in which Central American immigrants ride dangerous freight trains across Mexico for a chance of a new life in American. A significant proportion of these individuals are unaccompanied minors and "Which Way Home" is primarily focused on humanizing a few of the kids on this trek. At times humorous, but largely heartbreaking, they cross the country with an idealized portrait of what to expect--but very few will ever reach their destination safely and those that do may not find the independence, security and wealth that they are seeking.

The film crew has all access and rides the rails with our protagonists. We see every different aspect and result of the journey within "Which Way Home," and this completeness to the story really distinguishes the film. There is a boy who barely survived a desert crossing to live with his grandmother in America. There is a boy who crosses the border to get detained in Houston at a juvenile center before his deportation. There are kids that are caught by Mexican immigration and sent home. There are kids who disappear completely. And there are kids who don't survive the journey. If it sounds unpleasant, it certainly can be! The resilience and hopefulness never seems to fade, however, even in the direst of circumstances.
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With immigration a major issue for the States, it is often easy to take a position and argue one's beliefs and feel comfortable with those beliefs. This film makes one realize, whatever our position, there is a human element to the
story, much greater than we ever thought possible. Several months ago I saw the movie Sin Nombre and was astounded at what many of the immigrants had endured in attempting to come to this country, even though it was fictional. After that, I accidentally learned that one of my female students had come from Ecuador and traveled for two months, alone, to get here. She has no relatives in the country and is basically alone. Fortunately, she is an adult and attends night school to get her high school education.
As I was watching this documentary I felt I was watching Sin Nombre as many of the scenes and actions were identical. This film is an eye opener and I recommend it to everyone interested in the immigration issue.
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This is an amazing documentary. I showed this film to my Spanish classes last year and they loved it. The students were amazed at just how brave the boys and girls are for leaving their home and traveling to the United States via train...alone! This is a must have for all Spanish teachers or History teachers to focus on the issue of immigration for children. John Malkovich has done a wonderful job with this film.
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Setting aside (for a moment) the personal feelings i have regarding people of other nations trying to come illegally to our country , i would unreservedly suggest you see this documentary . The stories , hardships and so forth of these childen and their families , i would not wish on anyone . I was aware this sort of activity occured (not quite at these ages though) . Because i love my country and fear for its economic well being , i do believe we can't let human beings come to it illegally . Watching the stories of both the young and old is what i would call required viewing though . If for no other reasons , so that we (as a people) neither live in a blissful state of denial nor think the provenance of suffering is unique to us . Absolutely heartbreaking and truly informative .
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As you watch you will be drawn in to the lives of a few people and find yourself hoping they complete their goals. I did not find the presentation balanced at all though. It focuses on the hardships and struggles, but not the legality, morality or social impact on the effect of illegal immigration. It is worth watching though as it shows you a portion of this journey you are likely not aware of.
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I had watched this video several years ago on cable. Searched for it and found here. Although quality is that of a documentary and visual quality is basic, the message and topic is one that people need to see.
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This documentary brings home the danger and trauma experienced by anyone trying to get to America to better their lives. It should be illegal to have laws that prevent these poor, starving children from entering America's borders. Unless we are a Native America all of our ancestors got here through immigration. It is disgraceful that certain countries have to wait 15 or more years to get permission to enter America and people in other countries can apply and get a visa in a short time and come on over.
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This is a heartbreaking documentary. It is real. It is not a film that preaches for or against immigration - it simply shows who comes, what they do to get to the USA, and what they left behind. I appreciate that they tried to follow up with the kids they shadowed in the film.
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