FILM REVIEW – Debris – A raw and powerful glimpse into the US migrant crisis

If you own a TV, smartphone or have any access to global news then there’s no doubt you’re aware of the current US Mexico border crisis. This is where director Julio O. Ramos positions his story in the film Debris, with trafficked migrant workers in America allocated to the construction of family homes.

Site boss Armando is responsible for his workers and when one of them falls from the rooftop his life threatening injuries are unmistakably clear, something that is an ode to the raw performances in this film. Armando’s cool exterior quickly melts away when he realizes the severity of the situation, and the danger to life.

Ramos keeps the camera tight to Armando’s evolving expression of dread, allowing no respite from this nightmare situation in which we are positioned as a helpless voyeur. The reality of the film is what hits hard; the hand held shots and natural lighting remove any sense of cinematic gloss that would make the events easier to swallow.

Though succinct the script provides a lot of context to the workers plight, enough to make you understand the risks they take everyday and the treatment they’re subject to. From the outset the sense of foreboding is hard to shake, but the real climax of Ramos’s short is the horrifying conclusion.

Debris is a raw and powerful glimpse into the crisis of illegally trafficked migrants that demonstrates short filmmaking at its best. 

Jessica Harman

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