I Carry You With Me is documentarian Heidi Ewing’s first narrative feature, even though there is undoubtedly some non-fiction involved, especially towards the end. Heidi knew the real Ivan and Gerardo from going to their restaurant in New York, and one year at Sundance, they told Heidi the story of their relationship, which she thought would make an excellent film. She was not wrong. I Carry You With Me is an emotional powerhouse that had me and the other moviegoers crying our collective eyes out.
The plot description given above does not mainly do the film itself justice. There is so much more involved. So many emotions and so much truth are contained within I Carry You With Me that it can’t be put into words. It can only be discovered by watching the film. It gives a message of hope to lovers and immigrants. It shows the despair and loneliness of being an immigrant as well.
Especially heartbreaking is the fact that Ivan and Gerardo had to leave the family and friends they loved behind for good because risking going back to Mexico is something that could ruin everything they built in the US. This means that the real Ivan hasn’t seen his son in over twenty years. He even has a granddaughter that he hasn’t met. He was also unable to go back to Mexico to attend his father’s funeral.
“…moving, intimate, heartbreaking…”
We all, well most of us anyway, know that the immigration situation in the United States, especially now thanks to our wall-obsessed “president,” is grim. Undocumented immigrants are in the most dangerous position ever, and it doesn’t show any signs of getting better soon unless things change in November. I Carry You With Me humanizes the struggles that millions of Latinx people face every day. This is absolutely necessary for the volatile political environment in which we currently reside. Everyone should be more concerned about the actual human beings that are involved when it comes to issues such as immigration, and that might give us a chance at unifying us as a human race.
Heidi Ewing and co-writer Alan Page expertly tell the story of two real immigrants that is devastating, beautiful, and human. Juan Pablo Ramirez’s cinematography espouses a magical quality that makes even something as horrifying as crossing the U.S./Mexico border look gorgeous. About 90% of the production crew is Mexican, as is the entire principal cast. This is proof that allies can help people of color tell their stories in an authentic way that is not pandering or patronizing.
I Carry You With Me is an excellent guideline for future filmmakers who wish to tell stories about people of color, which are so desperately needed, now more than ever. I implore you to watch this film, it just might melt even the hardest of hearts when it comes to immigration and gay rights, and for that, it should be thunderously applauded.
I Carry You With Me screened at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.
"…a love story that spans decades."