Director: Shruti Parekh
United States, 2022, 18 min
Shooting Format:Sony Venice 6K
Cast:Anwar Molani, Vico Ortiz, Rosa Frausto
Crew:Writer: Shruti Parekh. Producers: Laura Scarano, Shruti Parekh.
Dev, a taxi driver in upstate New York, ferries asylum-seekers to an unmarked Canadian border crossing in the hopes of earning enough to bring his family over from India. One night, he picks up Estrella and Marisol, a Salvadoran couple with dreams of a new beginning and a great deal at stake. When they challenge his tactics, he must confront how far he will go for his American Dream.
About the director
Shruti Parekh is an Atlanta-bred, Brooklyn-based filmmaker who tells intimate and incisive stories of life on the margins of society. Her work spans fiction, documentary, journalism, and animation. Shruti’s short films have played at Oscar-qualifying festivals and in museums, and her first narrative short Blood Moon won the Audience Award at the South Asian Film Festival of America. Shruti has a BA from Brown University and an MFA in Directing from UCLA, where she received the Jack Nicholson Distinguished Student Director Award and the Wasserman Film Production Fellowship.
As the American-born daughter of Indian immigrants, I have always been interested in exploring the experiences of immigrants and their cross-border journeys to survive and thrive. Immigrant stories reflect the extent of human resilience, determination, and hope. But in xenophobic societies, even kindred communities are often pitted against one another in their struggles for success and self-preservation. In “Esperanza,“ I explore these tensions in the immigrant narrative while questioning the cutthroat nature of the elusive American Dream.
“Esperanza“ is inspired by real surges of asylum-seekers crossing into Canada at an unmarked border between New York and Quebec after Trump's election. I covered this story as a journalist in 2017 and was struck by this alternate border narrative—one in which migrants flee the U.S. instead of coming to it. Many making the journey are undocumented or at risk of losing their immigration status in the U.S., and many face dangerous futures in their home countries. Near the border, taxi drivers shuttle people to their destination, sometimes following U.S. border protocol at their passengers’ expense. Some of the drivers are immigrants themselves. Through the stories of Dev, Estrella, and Marisol, I explore the complex dynamics at play between those in pursuit of a better life and the systems they are up against.
“Esperanza“ was made as part of the MFA directing program at UCLA. The cast and crew reflects the story—a women-led and majority POC and queer team.