Rae Ceretto’s documentary, Seeking Asylum, is not concerned with questions of a clear path for immigration or naturalization. Rather, it seeks to shine a light on the refugee crises that have been incited all across the globe and the obstacles faced when needing refugee status swiftly. Whether it’s the Rohingya in Bangladesh or the Syrians fleeing Aleppo, numerous flash points exist involving refugees. In Central America, U.S. policy has created a void in which gangs have formed. They then go about violently and bloodily controlling a region of any number of countries found along the Central American land bridge.
In Honduras, a middle-aged lady named Kensy is attempting to flee the gang violence that has overtaken her home. When her daughter leaves the house at 16 and hooks up with a gangster, abusive calls from the gang are all the encouragement Kensy and her three other kids need to leave. A series of vignettes follows her 31-day odyssey of reversing Mexico from Honduras. She and her kids were robbed and threatened all on their way to receive asylum as a refugee. We watch as Kensy abides her time in a Mexican internment camp, though not before several court appointments and the arrival of COVID.
“…seeks to shine a light on the refugee crises that have been incited all across the globe…”
But, Kensy is granted temporary residence in the “land of the free” (specifically Los Angeles) if she agrees to wear an ankle bracelet. Now that Kensy and her family are in the States, the real challenge begins: staying. As the subject mentions, if you are returned to your home country, it is often a death sentence. Kensy must line up an apartment, legal representation, and survive the pandemic, all at the same time. This is no easy feat when English is not a language you have any sort of command over.
The way Seeking Asylum seamlessly cuts between vignettes of Kensy’s life to demonstrate facts of other refugee situations is brilliant. This is not solely an American issue. The whole of the First World is failing at its duty to welcome the refugee in need. It helps that Kensy is a strongly charismatic and indefatigable person. She is fully determined not to leave America. Having heard what she left behind in Honduras, I don’t think anyone could blame her.
Ceretto has prepared a strong and powerful statement in Seeking Asylum. The film serves as a damning denouncement of the last three or four presidents and their failure to adequately handle the refugee crisis simmering on the Southern border. This is a must-see film as a tool to build empathy.
"…a strong and powerful statement..."