New documentary tells story of asylum-seeking mother in Southern California and Tijuana
The film “Seeking Asylum: A Mother’s Journey” was directed by Rae Ceretto and produced by Kelly Scott of Honeypot Productions and is available on Amazon, iTunes and other platforms beginning Feb. 21.
When filmmakers Rae Ceretto and Kelly Scott met Kensy, an asylum-seeking woman from Honduras, in Tijuana, they thought her chances of making it into the United States were slim.
It was 2019, and Kensy and her family were in the “Remain in Mexico” program, which obligated them and thousands of other asylum seekers to wait south of the border for their U.S. immigration court cases. They filmed her story as a proof-of-concept for a larger project. Then, soon after the pandemic began in 2020, they received a call.
Kensy was in Los Angeles. She and her family happened to be in San Diego for a court hearing when the border closed down due to COVID-19. Instead of being sent back, they were released.
Ceretto and Scott began following her case again. The result, a feature film directed by Ceretto and produced by Scott called “Seeking Asylum: A Mother’s Journey” is available starting Feb. 21 on Amazon, iTunes and other streaming platforms.
Because of the pandemic, much of the documentary was filmed by Kensy and her family on a cellphone. It gives an intimate portrait of what it’s like to wait in limbo, not knowing whether the United States will ultimately offer refuge.
“She really fights for her and her children, which I think is a very empathetic story that a lot of people can relate to, this idea of doing all that you can for the ones that you love,” Ceretto said.
The film also gets at the complexity of the system. Scott said that she and Ceretto found themselves calling Jewish Family Service of San Diego to understand what was happening in Kensy’s case. The pro bono attorneys with the nonprofit eventually decided to represent Kensy.
“Asylum is in the news almost every day, and I think most people don’t understand what asylum is or how many policies or deterrents there are,” Ceretto said. “Once we started following Kensy’s story, we realized we knew very little about this very extremely complicated process.”
Kensy recently saw the film for the first time, and soon after had a joyful phone call with Ceretto and Scott.
“She was very happy, so emotional, proud of way the story was told,” Scott recalled. “That was how we hoped she would feel in trusting us to tell that story.”
To accompany the film’s release, Ceretto and Scott organized a website that offers a variety of action steps that viewers can take to try to help people like Kensy who have fled for their lives.
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