Five Years North
Five Years North is the coming-of-age story of Luis, an undocumented boy in New York City desperate to bring the American Dream back home to Guatemala. Alone, he struggles to work, study, and evade Judy—the Cuban-American ICE agent who patrols his neighborhood.
Grand Prize Winner of DocPitch at the 2019 DocLands Film Festival
MountainFilm 2019 Commitment Grant Winner
Directors: Chris Temple & Zach Ingrasci
Editor: Alejandro Valdes-Rochin
Producer: Jenna Kelly
Consulting Editors: Pedro Kos & Fernando Villena
Executive Producers: Morgan Kays, SJ Murray, Ari Rastegar, Kellie Rastegar
Fiscally sponsored by Creative Visions Foundation
We didn’t set out to make an immigration film. In 2010, while working on a different project, we met seven-year-old Luis, a quirky kid in a rural Mayan village in Guatemala. We’ve kept in touch with him ever since, watching as this shy child grew into a bubbly and opinionated teenager. Then in late 2017, at just 16 years old, Luis arrived alone, and without papers, to New York City.
We began to make a documentary about his new life, but quickly realized we’d have to reckon with a powerful force: ICE. It took over a year to get filming approval from the agency, but we eventually did. That’s when we met Judy, the supervisor responsible for Luis’ neighborhood. An officer, single mother, and daughter of Cuban immigrants, she’s been candid, personal, and critical of the agency in ways that we’ve never seen on screen before.
Because we had such unique and personal access to our two main characters, we avoided adding outside voices from news anchors, politicians, or activists. We didn’t want the film to provide a broad view of the issue as a whole, or to be a representative take on the experiences of all immigrants or ICE officers. Instead, our goal was to focus on Judy and Luis, and to provide a deeply personal look at their lives as complex individuals inside of the system.
Judy and Luis challenged our preconceived notions with every turn. Their choices often surprised us, and were at times enraging. Questions began to surface: How do we justify our actions when we know they are hurting others? What lengths should we go to for family? What is the human cost of the American Dream?
We didn’t plan to make a film on this topic. But we’ve been inspired through the process to deepen the conversation about immigration, and to drive tangible change to help those being crushed by the system.
- Chris Temple and Zach Ingrasci