Set in rural California and Mexico’s Pacific coast, director Rodrigo Reyes’ documentary, Sansón and Me, is a moving portrait of the unlikely friendship of two Mexican migrants, told within the frame of the dramatic clash between systemic forces and personal choices that envelop young, incarcerated men of color in America. Sansón’s life is defined by borders—between Mexico and the United States, between freedom and incarceration, between fact and fiction. While serving two life sentences for first-degree murder in Pelican Bay State Prison, Sansón grapples with the ways he has traversed these borders, moving from country to country, from rural California to solitary confinement, and from the truths of his life to the mythologies he’s created. A tale told through dramatic re-enactments, Sansón and Me recreates a life of multilayered border crossing as told by Sansón to his interpreter-turned-friend, filmmaker Rodrigo Reyes. Director and producer joins us to talk about his vividly portrayal of Sansón’s life from orphaned Mexican child to American prisoner, focusing on one man’s attempt at reconciling the things that have happened to him and the things he has brought on himself.
WINNER – Best Film, Sheffield DocFest 2022
Official Selection – Tribeca Festival 2022
Official Selection – SFFilm Doc Stories 2022
About the filmmaker – Director Rodrigo Reyes (Mexico City, 1983), makes films deeply grounded in his identity as an immigrant artist, crafting a poetic gaze from the margins, using striking imagery to portray the contradictory nature of our shared world, while revealing the potential for transformative change. He has received the support of The Mexican Film Institute (IMCINE), Sundance and Tribeca Institutes, while his films have screened on PBS and Netflix. His film 499, won Best Cinematography at Tribeca and the Special Jury Award at Hot Docs. Rodrigo is a recipient of the prestigious Guggenheim and Creative Capital Awards, as well as the Rainin Fellowship and the SF Indie Vanguard Award. For years, he has worked to mentor the next generation of diverse artists through his work as a member of the Board of Directors for Video Consortium and Co-Director of the BAVC Mediamaker Fellowship, and teaching masterclasses at renowned institutions such as Berkeley’s Journalism School, Princeton, The New School, UCLA as well as being a guest lecturer at the Stanford MFA in Documentary Film.
“An ever-engaging, innovative and moving treatment of race, class, and the criminal-justice system.” – Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail
“★★★★. With this startling and sombre documentary, Mexican film-maker Rodrigo Reyes has conducted an experiment in verbatim cinema, or what you might call witness cinema.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“This film is taking a much more sobering sweep than more frequently made films about jail time, which tend to end with exoneration or freedom, which Reyes notes from the start is not within this documentary’s gift.” – Amber Wilkinson, Eye for Film