Sergio E. Avilés’ Einen Koffer is only six minutes long, but it is an effective film with a strong message. The film depicts a Mexican man, hoping to cross the border between Mexico and the United States in the hopes of rejoining his family. He is walking along the large wall that separates the two countries, with a recording of President Ronald Reagan’s 1987 “Tear Down this Wall” speech playing in the background. Comparing the two scenarios of the immigrant’s situation and Reagan’s speech is largely what makes this short film so powerful. The man walks around with nothing but a suitcase, hoping to move – this is the connection to the title of the film, which is suitcase in German.
Much of Reagan’s speech is about the freedom to travel and uniting all European people who are separated by the Berlin Wall. He recited the speech in Germany, encouraging Soviet Union President Gorbachev to tear it down in the name of freedom. The speech is all about how the Berlin Wall deteriorates basic human rights, and the film compares it to the border wall between Mexico and the US by showing shots of the border wall while Reagan recites the speech. It’s an immensely memorable way to get a simple message across: that the Mexican border wall is taking away human rights and is separating families. This message is certainly potent in the film since the audience gets a glimpse of the family that the man is hoping to reunite with.
Parts of Reagan’s speech were also spray-painted on the border wall. According to him, this section of speech was graffiti that was painted onto the Berlin Wall, stating, “this wall will fall, beliefs become reality.” The man paints this same message on the border wall, drawing further parallels between the two.
Furthermore, every time Reagan mentions Gorbachev, the man is showing a photo of President Barack Obama. Considering that he is the current leader of the United States, it makes it seem as though the film is using Reagan’s speech as a way to send a direct message to Obama. This message is to “tear down this wall.” The man also plants a photo of Obama with this message written on it, and the film ends with several shots of Mexican immigrants hoping to cross the border, also holding up the same photo of Obama.
After looking up information on Reagan’s relationship and policies with Mexican immigrants, it seems to be almost a direct parallel to what is happening today in American politics. “In 1986, Reagan signed the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which granted amnesty to 2.7 million undocumented immigrants,” (Moody & Lee, 2015), which is something Obama has done and many conservative politicians oppose it, despite Reagan being a Republican. But the wall stood in Reagan’s time, and the wall still stands. No matter how many years have passed, the Mexican border wall still separates families, and neither Obama nor Reagan has done anything to tear it down. It is also ironic that Reagan took the time to travel to another country and recite this speech about eliminating separation, but didn’t do so for his own country.
The most interesting aspect of this film, overall, is that it teaches so much in such a small amount of time. There are shots of Mexico with a Western Bank in the background – a clear indicator of Western influence and money into the country despite its maltreatment of human rights. There are shots of the man sending money to his family and being thrown into a cell. The short film pulls on many emotions, and exposes the hypocrisy of modern politics and how it fails people.
Moody, C. & Lee, A. (2015, September 15). GOP 2016ers collide with Ronald Reagan on immigration. CNN.com. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/15/politics/reagan-amnesty-2016/