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BALSEROS

Review by Chastity Campbell

Directors: Carles Bosch, Josep Domenech
Audio: Dolby Digital Stereo
Video:  1.33:1 Standard Fullscreen
Studio: New Video
Features: See Review
Length:  120 Minutes           
Release Date:  July 26, 2005

Film ***

I seem to take a lot for granted in my life.  I get to wake up every morning in a nice comfortable bed, go to my kitchen and fix pretty much whatever I want to eat.  I go to work at my office, and earn the money that keeps me in the manner that I have become accustomed to.

Then I sit down and watch a documentary like this one and realize (not for the first time) how lucky I am.  How much can a person really learn from watching a documentary like Balseros?  A lot more than I had given it credit for, Iíll say that much.

Balseros documents the dream, the journey, and the reality of a group of Cuban people trying to immigrate to the United States in 1994.

One man is trying to reunite with his family, one woman is trying to build a better life for herself in order to help her very young daughter, whom she is leaving behind.

Follow them, as they build their rafts, set sail, and wind up in limbo as the United States halts the entry of all illegal immigrants, and threatens to send them back to the homeland they abandoned.

I donít like the idea of saying I enjoyed watching people suffer, because that is definitely NOT the case.  However, I did enjoy watching this documentary.  It fascinated me with its color and stories.  While at the same time, it tore my heart apart to know that so many people have died trying to find a place where they can belong, and give back to those who gave to them.

I think what I liked most about this documentary was the fact that it not only showed you what these people went through to get to America, but it spans approximately ten years, to show you who they were, what they did, and who they have become.  This documentary is put together very well, and works wonderfully as a subtitled film. 

I think everyone should see this documentary.  Itís a very well done piece of cinema that causes you to do what a lot of films are afraid ofÖit makes you think!

If documentaries are your thing, then check out Balseros today!

Video ***

As I will mention in the audio portion of this review, documentaries are always hit or miss.  This one misses slightly in the audio department, but it hits the nail right on the head where the video is concerned.

The 1.33:1 Standard fullscreen was dark in all the right places, and vivid where it needed to be.  The contrast between dark and light was used to very good effect on this DVD.

The colorful Miami scenes towards the end of the DVD really set it apart when it comes to crisp, clean, vivid colors.

Audio **

Audio is a tricky thing when putting together a documentary.  You basically get what you can while out in the field, and work with it as best you can.  This film had some very nice audio in places, but for the most part the Dolby Digital Stereo mix sounded tinny and hollow.  The background music was used very nicely and did manage to thicken up the audio in places, but the levels tended to bounce around, which became a bit annoying.

Features **

This DVDís extras consisted of Filmmaker Biographies, Photo Gallery, and Timeline of Events for United States-Cuban relations.

Summary:

Decent video, interesting story telling, and good audio make a good combination on DVD.   If you are looking for a documentary that will touch you on every level, then Balseros is the one for you!

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