Turn Back South

Using two decades of archival footage, a Mexican American reporter, himself an immigrant to Mexico, reflects on his 30 years of telling the stories US-bound immigrants.

  • Franc Gabriel Contreras
    Notes From a Long Walk
  • Franc Gabriel Contreras
    Notes From a Long Walk
  • Franc Gabriel Contreras
  • César Parra
    Editor and Camera
    Cartas a distancia
  • Jaime Franciso Hernández
  • Guinduri Arroyo
    Sound Design
    Frida (2002),
  • Dave Fonseca
    Line Producer
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short, Other
  • Runtime:
    11 minutes 33 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    July 15, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    7,610 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Spanish
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Cannes
    Winner Best Human Rights Film
Director Biography - Franc Gabriel Contreras

Award-winning nonfiction filmmaker Franc Gabriel Contreras was born in Tucson, Arizona and has been living in Mexico City since 1996. His television and radio reports from Latin America and the U.S. Southwest have been seen and heard by audiences around the world.

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Director Statement

Turn back south is the name of a little-known U.S. Border Patrol tactic that uses military helicopters, all-terrain vehicles, infra-red cameras, razor wire and military-grade firearms to frighten would-be undocumented migrants just as they are about to cross into the United States.

But this short nonfiction film is not about the Border Patrol. It could never be. Instead, it aims to stir deep feelings of empathy for the people who make this extraordinarily dangerous journey, often with their little children. They take this extremely difficult decision and leave behind their families and the lands of their birth. And we arrive at the possibility that perhaps it is part of human nature to cross great stretches of land, like the birds and forest creatures, in an attempt to change one’s own fate.

Turn Back South is built largely from the director’s personal archive of footage captured across Mexico during years of following migrants from the most southern part of Chiapas state to the northern border with the United States. A two-tone 1969 Volkswagen sedan makes its debut in this short nonfiction film.