Tribeca Film Festival Review: "Which Way Home"

In this haunting documentary, director Rebecca Cammisa chronicles the harrowing journey that immigrants headed to the United States must make through Mexico on the freight trains that transport commercial goods from south to north. Almost 5% of the people who brave the passage north are children, with nearly 100 thousand minors a year attempting the journey alone. And many don't make it.

The film, shot in a guerrilla style by Cammisa, along with Lorenzo Hagerman and Eric Goethals, gives the viewer unparalleled access into the lives of a bunch of rough and tumble boys seemingly up for the adventure of a lifetime. But as they move further north, the trip becomes more perilous, friendships are tested and lives are put at risk. Which Way Home poses an interesting question: If the journey is so dangerous and you are unsure what awaits you if and when you manage to get to the US, why risk your life? Each and every one of the boys has their own justifications for making the trip—and money, though mentioned repeatedly—isn't really one of them.

Kevin hopes to escape a verbally abusive stepfather who wishes him gone anyway. Fito, abandoned by his mother and father at a young age, is looking for a new family. Jairo's a romantic who dreams of obtaining a better education, and Perro, living on the street since the age of 3, just wants to start a new life where he has a fighting chance of making something of himself. The boys have no money, no family, and no support—just each other.

And even that gets taken away as they face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. A must see for anyone interested in learning about the immigration experience, this documentary illuminates a harsh reality that most people probably aren't ready to accept. From the coyotes, to "la migra," to the corrupt cops—no one has the best interests of the children in mind. As for the question: Is it worth it? Well, Kevin and Fito, with the indefatigable optimism of youth, make another break for the border just 9 short months after their first attempt.