‘Marisol’ Probes the Plight of the Undocumented 

Of all the issues dividing the United States in 2023, immigration tops the list. So, it’s not surprising that many filmmakers have viewed this perennially relevant topic as a rich source of storytelling for decades. Now, director Kevin Casanova Abrams—in collaboration with screenwriter Claire Audrey Aguayo—adds one more heartbreaking account to that list with Marisol (a coming-of-age film that is set to take on the big screen on September 1).

Marisol critically examines systemic oppression and the causality of racism through the struggle and spirit of Marisol Rivera (played by Esmeralda Camargo)—a 17-year-old first-generation Mexican-American girl, who spends her mornings cleaning horse stalls and her evenings studying.

After winning a prestigious scholarship, Marisol is preparing to leave her aunt’s home in Southwest Texas and embark on a new life in California. That is, until her promising future gets crushed in an instant, when one night, she is falsely accused of a crime and then discovers a frightening truth: she is undocumented.

The narrative, although fictional, deepens and enriches the USA’s national discourse on immigration.

In a desperate attempt to salvage the only life she’s ever known, Marisol goes on the run, searching for her mother, and looking for answers she may never find. The narrative, although fictional, is a poignant reminder of the precarious and painful realities facing undocumented individuals, and it deepens and enriches the USA’s national discourse on immigration.

“Agendas, politics, and biases have colored [national] conversation into a war of misrepresentation and hate,” said director Kevin Casanova Abrams (in a press statement). “The conversation is not about those who are trying to come to our country and contribute to its legacy of opportunity and advancement, it is about statistics and headlines robbing them of being seen as the individuals and humans they are. Marisol is my attempt to remind people of the lives at the center of this conversation, those young and old who are becoming casualties in a political discourse that challenges the ideals of how our country was built.”

Although the film’s title could be confused with a few other indie shorts and features with the same name in recent years, Marisol elevates the cry for empathy to the plight of the undocumented by calling to mind several other on-screen stories that have humanized the image of these faceless, nondescript individuals—thus combating our tendency to reduce them to a statistic.

For example, take the award-winning film ¡Alambrista! (1977)—written & directed by filmmaker Robert M.Young—for instance, which tells the story of a Mexican farmworker who sneaks across the border to California to make money to send to his family back home. Or Cary Fukunaga’s powerful, gut-wrenching drama Sin Nombre (2019) which chronicles the fate of three teens from Central America who make the harrowing trek through Mexico to get to the US. And Under the Same Moon (2007)—directed by Patricia Riggen with a screenplay by Ligiah Villalobos—which follows a young Mexican boy who traverses the border in search of his mother (who has been living and working illegally in the USA to provide a better life for him).

With Marisol, I hope to show that our country is not just colored red, white, and blue, but also brown.

“Immigration is part of the foundation of the USA legacy,” Kevin adds. “Every day, humans are destroyed by a system that forgets their humanity, and, with Marisol, I hope to show that our country is not just colored red, white, and blue, but also brown.”

All that being said, it’s clear that even if Marisol isn’t an easy watch, it’s a necessary one.

Marisol will be released in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on Friday, September 1 and on VOD on Tuesday September 12 via Screen Media. 

© Reanne Rodrigues (8/29/23) – Special for FF2 Media


Although FF2 Media was eager to interview Claire Audrey Aguayo–Marisol‘s screenwriter–it was impossible to do so at this time. We respect the strike rules established by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and we wish the WGA-SAG/Aftra strikers all the best.

You can learn more about Claire and her work online, by visiting her website here and her IMDb page here.

To watch Marisol’s trailer, click here. And check here for streaming details.

Under the Same Moon was released before there was an “FF2 Media,” but here is a link to Jan Lisa Huttner’s haiku on Films42 from 2009.


Featured Photo: Esmeralda Camargo in Marisol. Photo by Scott Aguayo courtesy MPRM Communications, used with their permission. All Rights Reserved.

Bottom Photo (from left): Director Kevin Abrams, actor Esmeralda Camargo, and screenwriter Claire Audrey Aguayo. Photo Credit: Matt Mintz for the Twin Cities Film Fest (10/28/22) Used with permission of TCFF executive director Jatin Setia. All Rights Reserved.

Tags: Claire Audrey Aguayo, DACA, Esmeralda Camargo, Films42, immigration, Immigration Reform, Ligiah Villalobos, Marisol, Patricia Riggen, SAG-AFTRA, Under the Same Moon, Undocumented, WGA, WGA 2023 Strike

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Reanne is an arts and culture writer based in Manhattan, New York City. She loves telling impactful stories about artists and the value they bring to the world. Reach out to her if you’d like to collaborate on any projects or indulge in a lively discussion over chai at www.reannewrites.com.
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