Letters from the Other Side

Several Mexican women live with cross-border video letters connecting them, their loved ones, and strangers.

PBS Plus Presentation
Premiere Date
October 1, 2006
60 minutes
Funding Initiative
Open Call

Heather Courtney

Heather Courtney is a filmmaker, cinematographer, and photographer based in Austin, Texas. Her recently completed Letters from the Other Side, which uses cross-border video letters to tell the immigration story from the perspective of the women left behind in Mexico, premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in January, screened at the South by Show more Southwest International Film Festival (SXSW). Her previous film, Los Trabajadores/The Workers, won the Audience Award at SXSW in 2001 and was broadcast nationally on the PBS series Independent Lens in 2003. In addition, it has screened at over 40 national and international film festivals and conferences, as well as at countless grassroots screenings in conjunction with immigrant rights groups all over Austin and the rest of Texas. She is currently producing the Texas segment of a national PBS documentary on the health insurance crisis. Prior to receiving her graduate degree in film, Heather spent eight years writing and photographing for the United Nations and several refugee and immigrant rights organizations, including in the Rwandan refugee camps after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Show less

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The Film

"How many more deaths does it take for the U.S. government to do something? Let it be on their conscience that since our tragedy many more have died and many more will die!"

So says Laura in a video letter to the U.S. government, speaking about her husband who died trying to cross the U.S./Mexico border to search for work. Letters from the Other Side interweaves video letters carried across the U.S./Mexico border with the intimate stories of women left behind in post-NAFTA Mexico. By focusing on a side of the immigration story rarely told by the media or touched upon in our national debate, Letters paints a complex portrait of families torn apart by economics, communities dying at the hands of globalization, and governments incapable or unwilling to do anything about it.