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The Second Cooler: Documentary by Alabama Filmmaker Ellin Jimmerson

Posted: Mar 03, 2011

The Second Cooler or Le Segunda Nevera is a documentary film by Ellin Jimmerson, Alabama filmmaker, that asks the questions: why are there twelve million Latin American migrants in the United States illegally and why do thousands not survive the border crossing?

The film The Second Cooler, narrated by Martin Sheen, is a migrant justice documentary. The premise of The Second Cooler is that Arizona is the new Alabama, the epicenter of an intense struggle for migrant justice. Shot primarily in Alabama, Arizona, and northern Mexico, the film's purpose is to bring basic immigration issues into focus. Those issues include the impact of free trade agreements on migration, the lack of a legal way for poor Latin Americans to come to the United States, the inherent abuses of the guest worker program, the fact that many migrants are indigenous people, anti-immigrant politics, the reality of thousands of migrant deaths at the border, and an escalating ideology of the border. (photo of unidentified body bags in Pima Co, AZ)

The Second Cooler differs from every other documentary to date on the subject. It raises a well-focused question: “Who benefits?” The film features interviews with 25 illegal migrants, including three children under the age of 12, and it follows several of the migrants throughout the film. In addition, it includes interviews with 55 professionals, including historians, lawyers, clergy, labor union organizers, politicians, a Border Patrol agent, human rights advocates, and others who untangle the threads of a complicated issue.

The Second Cooler has an original score, original songs, and uses murals and other visual art extensively.It is sub-titled in English and Spanish throughout. My longtime friend, legendary Alabama bluesman, Microwave Dave Gallaher, is composing an original song for The Second Cooler soundtrack. After viewing the short, Dave was inspired to write the song about displaced workers in Mexico and in Fort Payne, Alabama. The song, "Why Did You Take My Job?", includes vocals as well as Dave's superb guitar styling. (photo of Microwave Dave)

Director and producer Ellin Jimmerson has this to say about the film The Second Cooler :

"As a child in two viciously segregationist southern towns—Albany, Georgia, and Birmingham, Alabama—I saw how easy it was to humiliate and injure other human beings. As a historian, I know that the United States is not an innocent bystander to Latin America’s outpouring of its people. As an ordained Baptist minister, I feel called to advocate for justice by exposing humiliating, death-dealing systems in order to change them.

"The Second Cooler is intensely important to me. We in Alabama still invoke the memory of the four little girls who died in the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Little girls are dying again. Milka Lopez-Herrera was 1 year old when her body was recovered from Arizona’s Sonora Desert. Lorna Celeste Robles Enriquez was 5. Olivia Elizabeth Luna Noguera was 11. Lourdes Cruz Morales was 12."

Jimmerson adds: "I want the deaths to stop. "

The work on this important film is not yet done. There is editing and post-production work aheadin order to incorporate all the great footage into a 90-minute documentary. Artists and musicians must be paid, and it takes money to enter film festivals and work on distribution. Making an independent film is both difficult and expensive.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post for Swampland called It's Not Easy Being Indie. Today, independent filmmakers have it harder than ever as money just get tighter. You can make a contribution to this documentary through the Interfaith Mission Service in Huntsville, Alabama under the words "Huntsville Immigration Initiative (HII)." All contributions are tax-deductible.

You may contribute by clicking on the Interfaith Mission Service website (just scroll down to Huntsville Immigration Initiative). However, if you would like to send a check, please make it out to the Interfaith Mission Service, write "HII documentary" in the "for" line and mail to The Second Cooler, 2812 Vista Drive, HSV, 35803.

----Penne J. Laubenthal
Related Links
    It's Not Easy Being Indie

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