MAQUILAPOLIS is a documentary about (and by) workers in Tijuana's assembly factories, the maquiladoras. The project is a collaboration between filmmaker Vicky Funari, artist Sergio De La Torre, and Tijuana women's organization Grupo Factor X, with the participation of the human rights organization Global Exchange and the environmental activism non-profit The Environmental Health Coalition. MAQUILAPOLIS is currently in production.

"Thinking about relocation?"

Maquiladoras are the multinationally-owned assembly plants which dominate the economy of the U.S.-Mexico border region, employing over a million people. Carmen is one of these people. She works the graveyard shift, six nights a week, in Tijuana's Panasonic factory. After making television components all night, Carmen comes home to a shack she built out of recycled garage doors, in a neighborhood with no paved streets, no sewage lines and no electricity. A single mother, Carmen takes care of her three children all day, and if she's lucky she sleeps for an hour or two before heading off to work again. At 29, she suffers from kidney failure and anemia resulting from her years of factory work. Carmen earns six dollars a day.
This unique documentary tells the story of globalization from the personal perspectives of Carmen and a dynamic group of Mexican maquiladora workers who together are working towards creating liveable solutions to the complexities of life in a globalized city. The film meets women who are each dealing with the hardships of environmental toxins, labor rights abuse, infrastructure and housing issues, and women's rights. MAQUILAPOLIS approaches the workers as experts who can provide us with keys to our common future, inviting them to co-author their own story on videotape.
MAQUILAPOLIS is being created through a collaborative storytelling process which allows the characters in the film to have a voice in their own representation. Over a six-week period the producers of MAQUILAPOLIS conducted a video workshop in Tijuana, training a group of promotoras (community-based activists) to use digital video cameras. The workshop covered filming techniques, sound recording, and ways to tell a story using the documentary medium. Participants made intimate video diaries and worked in teams to document their lives and their stories. MAQUILAPOLIS' final incarnation will incorporate footage recorded during the workshop and beyond, as the women continue to use their filmmaking skills and donated cameras to record the world they see around them.

The MAQUILAPOLIS project is a documentary that will exist beyond the traditional boundaries of film. As cameras remain with the promotoras in Tijuana, the activists are continuing to record their struggles and visions of the world around them. The project is currently still seeking funding for an editing workshop to train the activists in desktop editing techniques, as well as for a community outreach plan and grass-roots distribution of the film in Mexico and the U.S. We hope to give the promotoras opportunities to represent the film by bringing it and their stories to audiences around the world.

all photos this page: darcy mckinnon