|THE OTHER SIDE|
|Crew: ||Executive Producers: Griselda San Martin - Producers: Griselda San Martin -
Just like every other weekend at Friendship Park, dozens of people have come to meet and greet one another on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border fence, an experience that many describe as being 'bittersweet'.Access to physically touch the wall on the U.S. side is limited to a small area and families lean against the fence trying to catch a glimpse of their loved ones through the steel mesh which is so tightly woven they can barely touch fingertips. Couples quietly whisper in each other's ears while Border Patrol agents walk back and forth in what can be compared to a prison yard on visiting day.On the Mexican side of the wall, the atmosphere is more relaxed. Among those present is Jose Marquez, a 67 year old Mariachi singer, who has come to see his daughter Susanna. Although they live just a few miles apart, they have been separated by the U.S.-Mexico border for almost 15 years. The documentary explores these border interactions at a time of rising xenophobic political tensions. The park is the only binational meeting place along the 2,000-mile border. Despite the massive metal walls and militarized checkpoints, love has no borders.
Griselda San Martin is a documentary photographer currently based in New York City. She is a graduate of the Documentary Photography and Photojournalism program at the International Center of Photography in New York and holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Colorado.
For the past five years she has documented the U.S.- Mexico border. Her long term projects delve into issues of immigration, deportation, inequality and human rights violations. She is currently focusing on the Hispanic community in the United States, exploring the effects of the rising xenophobic political and social climate in immigrants and ethnic minorities.
Her work explores transnational issues and focuses on concepts of identity and belonging. She is interested in in-depth stories that transcend borders and cultures and challenge popular assumptions and dominant media discourses.
Her work has appeared in publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times Lens Blog, The New Republic, The Huffington Post and El PaŪs among others.
I met Jose Marquez in May of 2016, during one of my frequent visits to the border wall at Friendship Park in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, just across the border from San Diego, California.
The 67 year old Mariachi singer had come to see his daughter Susanna. Although they live just a few miles apart, they have been separated for almost 15 years, since Marquez was deported from the United States.
But for the past 2 years, they try to meet at least once a month at the wall. They talk, they smile, they reminisce, they ask and answer each otherís questions and touch fingertips. Susanna wishes she could hug her father but for now she is happy just to see him, to be this close to him. Other people donít have this opportunity. Then Marquez sings to his daughter. The people nearby hear the music, a crowd starts to gather on both sides of the border around the small impromptu concert, such a simple thing, a father serenading his daughter at the park, only they are separated by national boundary lines, a 20 foot fence of metal and mesh and a broken immigration system. The concert comes to an end, the crowd cheers and applauds and as they disperse and spread along the wall, Susanna and her father are left alone again at the fence, leaning into it, looking at each other, talking about life, the times that they have missed. They wish they could embrace, instead they just touch fingertips.
This is how Jose, Susanna and so many families separated by immigration status meet at Friendship Park, the only federally established binational meeting place along the 2,000-mile border dividing the United States and Mexico.
I was touched by the story of Jose Marquez and his daughter Susanna. So much so, that two months after I met them, I was back in Tijuana to shoot this short documentary. My goal was to address the issue of the thousands of families who are suffering the tragedy of familial separation.