MAQUILAPOLIS [city of factories]
A film by Vicky Funari and Sergio De La Torre

A co-production of the Independent Television Service (ITVS).
A project of Creative Capital.
This film was supported by a grant from the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund.


Carmen works the graveyard shift in one of Tijuana’s maquiladoras, the multinationally-owned factories that came to Mexico for its cheap labor.  After making television components all night, Carmen comes home to a shack she built out of recycled garage doors, in a neighborhood with no sewage lines or electricity.  She suffers from kidney damage and lead poisoning from her years of exposure to toxic chemicals.  She earns six dollars a day.  But Carmen is not a victim.  She is a dynamic young woman, busy making a life for herself and her children. 

As Carmen and a million other maquiladora workers produce televisions, electrical cables, toys, clothes, batteries and IV tubes, they weave the very fabric of life for consumer nations.  They also confront labor violations, environmental devastation and urban chaos -- life on the frontier of the global economy.  In MAQUILAPOLIS, Carmen and her colleague Lourdes reach beyond the daily struggle for survival to organize for change:  Carmen takes a major television manufacturer to task for violating her labor rights.  Lourdes pressures the government to clean up a toxic waste dump left behind by a departing factory.

As they work for change, the world changes too:  a global economic crisis and the availability of cheaper labor in China begin to pull the factories away from Tijuana, leaving Carmen, Lourdes and their colleagues with an uncertain future. 


To create MAQUILAPOLIS, the filmmakers brought together factory workers in Tijuana and community organizations in Mexico and the U.S. to collaborate on a film that depicts globalization through the eyes of the women who live on its leading edge.  The factory workers who appear in the film have been involved in every stage of production, from planning to shooting, from scripting to outreach.  This collaborative process breaks with the traditional documentary practice of dropping into a location, shooting and leaving with the "goods," which would only repeat the pattern of the maquiladora itself.  The process embraces subjectivity as a value and a goal.  It merges  artmaking with community development to ensure that the film's voice will be truly that of its subjects. 


We are currently seeking funding to implement a binational Community Outreach Campaign, designed and implemented collaboratively with stakeholder organizations in the U.S. and Mexico.  The campaign utilizes a high-profile public television broadcast, top tier film festivals and community screenings of the film to create meaningful social change around the issues of globalization, social and environmental justice and fair trade.  Our outreach team includes dedicated activists on both sides of the border, mediamakers commited to social change, and most importantly a group of women factory workers struggling to bring about positive change in their world.