Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Indiewire logo

In Tale of Migrants, Gael Garcia Bernal Traces Path of "Dayani Crystal"

ReelPolitik By Anthony Kaufman | ReelPolitik January 18, 2013 at 12:16PM

Of the many issue-oriented docs at Sundance this year, the first day's screenings brought the world premiere of "Who is Dayani Crystal," a well-crafted documentary about the plight of Latin American migrants. Produced and featuring Mexican star Gael Garcia Bernal, I was initially suspicious about his role in the documentary. But as the film unfolded, I found the actor's easygoing presence to be a helpful guide into the lives of the thousands who make the often ill-fated journey to cross into the United States each year.
0

Of the many issue-oriented docs at Sundance this year, the first day's screenings brought the world premiere of "Who is Dayani Crystal," a well-crafted documentary about the plight of Latin American migrants. Produced and featuring Mexican star Gael Garcia Bernal, I was initially suspicious about his role in the documentary. But as the film unfolded, I found the actor's easygoing presence to be a helpful guide into the lives of the thousands who make the often ill-fated journey to cross into the United States each year. 

cristal

I reviewed the documentary for Screen Daily. Here is an excerpt.

"A dead man found in the Arizona desert becomes a potent symbol for the 2,000 missing persons found along this area of the U.S. border in the last decade. While 'Who Is Dayani Crystal?' doesn’t necessarily expose any new facts about the plight of immigrants, the film effectively humanises the thousands of individuals attempting to make a better life for themselves in the US—and the hundreds that die trying each year. As producer-actor Gael Garcia Bernal puts it in the film, “This is the wager: Can you make it past Mexico with your family’s future in your pocket?"

"Bernal plays a dual function in Who Is Dayani Crystal?, both as narrator, and as a stand-in for the unidentified man, tracing his journey from Honduras to Arizona. The film interweaves Bernal’s restaged trip with testimony from Arizona-based pathologists, missing persons’ experts, and Mexican and Honduran officials, as well as interviews with friends and family of the man who was only known by the calligraphy tattoo scrawled across his chest, reading “Dayani Crystal.”

"But by constructing the film in this manner, Silver gives up the secret identity of its central figure early on. Of course, the Hondurans speaking about their husband and son are the mystery’s man’s family. Who Is Dayani Crystal?, then, is less successful as a nonfiction mystery, and more convincing as an intimate case study."

This article is related to: Gael García Bernal, Immigration

Follow us

E-Mail Updates



Recent Comments

By Bob Connors: The thing to remember is the video has some actual data but it's conclusions are far fetched and inaccurate. This is a Progressive propaghand…

Who is "Politizane" and What's Next for the Income Inequality Viral Video

Mar 21th, 2015 8:47am

By Ostlee: This makes very sad reading - i feel for the people of Maldives. Everyone should boycott the island as a holiday destination until Nasheed…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 13th, 2015 5:35pm

By Ahmed Shahid: Release the first democratically elected president. The only president of Maldives who has reached the people of Maldives, heard them and…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 12th, 2015 9:37am

By Hanne Neve: Please take care of your country and the climate by freeing your real selektet president.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 11th, 2015 9:09am

By Iqbal: Please release President Nasheed

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 10:27pm

By Martha Robertson: I strongly urge the immediate release of Nasheed!

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 9:37pm

By Ned Rollins: Bad business, going to bite you.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 3:47pm

By John Painter: The guy isnt a terrorist.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 12:00pm

By Sofia Vera: I support Presdient Nasheed and add my name to this letter of support for his release.

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 11:14am

By Margarett R Mulkey: A civilized society is required of the current government of the Maldives. The world is watching injustice and crimes, and many realized thes…

Documentary Filmmakers and Activists Call for Release of "Island President" Nasheed

Mar 10th, 2015 10:53am