Leo and Mercedes Mejia crossed the border into California undocumented looking for a better life over forty years ago. I met them twenty-two years ago during their summer vacation in Oaxaca, returning to their pueblo with their three children. Newly documented, they had the freedom to travel legally, between their home in Fresno, C.A. and Jaltapec in the Mixteca. I made a 55minute documentary with them a year later, in 1995. It was a portrait of a family; Mexican parents and American born children. A simple narrative: that explored their worlds, their aspirations, their realities and their fears. We filmed life in Fresno, as the family prepared to visit Oaxaca for the summer for the annual fiesta of their saint. A place where the church had been built on the site of an ancient pyramid; a world once rich, but now lacking in water that had left a landscape worn out from over farming and suffering from extreme erosion. A place without much hope and without the means for change. Those who could, left, those too old or too young stayed behind. A familiar narrative repeated in pueblos all over Mexico.
Oaxacalifornia the sequel, twenty-one years later; we meet the Mejia's today. What has happened in their lives during these intervening years? Leo, the father is still a gardener, at 65 years old he is fit and hardworking and when he is not gardening he plays in a trio with two of his friends, who are still waiting to be documented. Once the children all left home, Mercedes put herself through beauty school and has a small beauty parlor in her converted garage, she works part-time and goes to zumba classes. Their oldest children Eli (42) and Noe (35) between them have 7 children. Adriana, the youngest, who was eight during our first film, doesn't remember the film, unlike her siblings she doesn't speak much Spanish and rejects much of her heritage. She recently married an Irish-American marine at Camp Pendelton in San Diego, not far from the San Yisdro border, where her parents first snuck into the United States decades ago. Brett the son-in-law intends to vote for Trump, he says he's not racist and wants to protect the U.S. His best man works as a border patrol officer "migra"
A film about a family: about identity, assimilation, contradictions, fears and aspirations and about the passage of time.