Beautiful and inspiring. La Casita Rosa tells the story of a group of women who work to feed immigrants on their way north. Now before the comments section becomes awash in partisan bickering. Try something for me, will you? Leave aside any ideas you might have on immigration or immigrants, just for a little bit. Imagine every day hungry people pass through your town. Not just hungry but starving. On the verge of death. An endless parade of people about to die from hunger and thirst. Many of them children. All of them willing to risk the slow, painful death of starvation or exposure because they are fleeing from something much worse. Of course, you’d want to find a way to help.
And that is what La Casita Rosa is about. It is about the perfectly natural impulse to help people who are in need, to take whatever you can and try to make sure they can live just one more day.
La Casita Rosa starts with one of the volunteers explaining to the new recruits the process of getting the food to the migrants on the passing train without getting hurt. We then go back to their kitchen, where we see the daily work of turning donated food and bottles into survival packs. Director Elvin Herrera makes the audience a fly on the wall of the daily hustle. And they have to hurry because as one lady explains, the train doesn’t have a set schedule. So they never know when they are going to be needed. We see the whole process of figuring out what they can make with the donations, cooking, cleaning bottles, refilling the bottles with water, collecting food donations, packing the meals. It all has manic energy like a high stakes version of Master Chef, but the prize isn’t a job in a kitchen; it’s one day more of life for a stranger.
“…go back to their kitchen…turning donated food and bottles into survival packs…”
We also get interviews with the volunteers who explain their daily routine. None of that is shocking. What is shocking is when you do get to their motivations. There isn’t some grand tragedy in their collective past or a family member who tried and failed to make it north, there is only the desire to help. There is no operatic origin story, just a group of women who saw people in need and thought to themselves, “I have to do something.” The remarkable spirit of true charity depicted in this documentary had me openly weeping in the theater — quick apology to the people sitting on either side of me.
La Casita Rosa is a reminder of our collective humanity, and a glimpse at the absolute best we have to offer as a species. A beautiful love letter to a truly astonishing group of women. A reminder that there is some hope in this world and a brilliant documentary filmed with a sensitive and gentle touch by a brilliant young director.
"…manic energy like a high stakes version of Master Chef..."