Torn Apart: Separated at the Border
Directed by Ellen Goosenberg Kent
USA | 39 min | 2019
Separated at the Border illuminates a dark chapter in America’s immigration history through the traumas and triumphs of two mothers who fled life-threatening violence to seek asylum in the United States, only to be detained and separated from their children. The film investigates the intended and unintended consequences when government policies undercut our laws, creating a human rights crisis. Torn Apart takes an intimate, humanizing look at a deeply divisive issue and the heroic advocates fighting for justice.
Traveling across the country from Texas to New York, Georgia and Arizona, the film illuminates the grueling journey these and many other migrant families make to reach the U.S., only to have their children transported to facilities hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away.
Providing a human context to a fraught political issue, the documentary shows how arduous reunification is after separation for asylum seekers. The backlog of cases in immigration court is nearing 900,000, and the ACLU estimates that as many as 6000 children have been separated from their parents before during and since “zero tolerance” officially ended.
A few years ago, when a partner’s mother, a LGBTQ+ activist, asked whether I would be attending Pride, I answered with a resounding “No”. I felt a total disconnect to what I perceived Pride to be. Her response was: “You don’t know your history!”. She was right – I didn’t. I had no knowledge of Section 28 and knew only of rumours and lies regarding the AIDS crisis. Exploring our history has helped me to understand why I grew up as an isolated young gay man filled with shame and fear. I knew I had to make this film in the effort to prevent anyone else feeling that way.
Are You Proud? is an exploration of a community that has tirelessly campaigned for my existence; the lives and battles fought that aren’t discussed or taught in schools, of a community that I am a part of, and is a part of me. Through this journey, I found friendship, love, voice and purpose.
A work-in-progress screening at BFI FLARE 2017 was pivotal, giving the audience the opportunity to have their say in shaping the end result. What started as a film being made alone in my bedroom has now grown into a film made by the community, for the community.
I’d like to thank all of those who supported our Kickstarter, our Executive Producers Andy Whitmore, Glenn Scott Wright, Charlie Parsons, Andrew Su, and Bruno Wang for believing in a first time filmmaker; and Andrew Lumsden, Lisa Power, Fox Fisher, Phyll Opoko-Gyimah and Dan Glass for their advice, guidance and trust. This process has ensured Are You Proud? is like no other film on the LGBTQ+ community, a film that is truly reflective of who we are. And with that comes the reality that within our community there are issues and differences of opinion that have to be addressed. Are You Proud? is as critical of us as a community as it is of those who oppress us.
Are You Proud ? is the film I needed to see when I was a child, and as a young gay man coming out. Making this film has emboldened me to continue the fight that so many have fought before me, and I hope that it encourages others to do the same.
~ Ashley Joiner
Ellen Goosenberg Kent
Director/producer Ellen Goosenberg Kent is a multi-award winning filmmaker whose work includes the Oscar®-winning Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1, the Emmy®-nominated Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq, Wartorn and One Nation Under Dog, both of which earned TV Academy Honors. Her work for HBO includes the Primetime Emmy®-winning programs I Have Tourette’s But Tourette’s Doesn’t Have Me, Happy to Be Nappy and Other Stories of Me, How Do You Spell God? and Going, Going, Almost Gone! Animals in Danger. Ellen has also earned two prestigious Peabody Awards and two best director nominations from The Director’s Guild of America, among many other honors and film festival showcases.
Torn Apart is executive produced by Julian Hobbs (Emmy® winner for Gettysburg) and Elli Hakami (The Lake Erie Murders, America’s War on Drugs) of Talos Films.