Pedro Ultreras' stark, uncompromising film 7 Soles (7 Suns) may be the most timely film out now. The movie depicts a band of Mexican migrants enduring a living nightmare to cross the Sonoran desert in the hopes of reaching Phoenix. Your last chance to see it any time soon will be tonight at Harkins Arizona Mills, 6:30 p.m., in a fundraiser screening to benefit the Macehualli Day Labor Center.
Why 7 Soles so timely? Sadly, current events. The Tucson-based human rights organization Coalicion de Derechos Humanos recently reported that there have been more than 183 human remains recovered in the desert since October 1, 2008.
"With five weeks left in the fiscal year," reads an August 29 CDH press release, "the count has already reached the fiscal year total for 2007-08. From the beginning of the fiscal year to the end of July, 162 human remains were recovered--this figure does not reflect any of the 21 remains recovered through August 24th."
"The count of 183 includes 121 males, 27 females, and 34 individuals of unknown gender (19% of the total)," continues the release. "The number includes 98 individuals of unknown identity, which is approximately 54% of the total recovered. The identification of at least 29 of the unknown individuals is hampered by the fact that only skeletal remains were recovered. The remains of 168 individuals had been recovered at the same time last fiscal year."
(Since the release, there have been more deaths. CDH's online ticker now reads "189 Arizona Recovered Remains.")
Infuriatingly, the U.S. government is actively engaged in hampering those who are attempting to alleviate this situation. Thirteen volunteers from the groups No More Deaths/No Mas Muertes, the Samaritans, and Humane Borders were arraigned in federal court in Tucson for "littering"; i.e., leaving jugs of clean drinking water along migrant trails in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.
The littering citations come despite the fact that the volunteers spend a lot of time taking trash out of the desert, as well as rescuing lost migrants and saving them from certain death.
In any case, the film tells the story of such migrants with a rare, apolitical honesty. The heavies are the coyotes, not the U.S. authorities, as you might expect. And there's very little redemption depicted to offset the evil you see.
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I've seen the film twice, and could easily watch it again. Thought 7 Soles has been showing in Mexico for months now, it has not gained American distribution, mainly because it's in Spanish with subtitles, and because it's hardly lighthearted fare.
Tickets are $10. Cash is preferred as it's a fundraiser, and the director is supposed to be present for a Q&A afterwards. Harkins Arizona Mills is located at 5000 Arizona Mills Cir. Tempe, AZ 85282, I-10 & Superstition Freeway @ AZ Mills Mall.
PS: In response to the anonymous conspiracy theorist below, I'm the one who's suggesting paying cash, for the sake of convenience. I'm sure they'll take a check too. I don't think the activists are set up to take credit cards, is all I'm saying, but I could be wrong. There's not a lot of money involved here. It's just one theater. and they have to pay to rent that, I believe.
It doesn't sound like you're going, but if you are, don't take any cash or check. See if you get in with your Visa. I don't care. What an idiot.