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The Second Cooler is a documentary about illegal migration shot primarily in Alabama, Arizona, and northern Mexico. The premise is that Arizona is the new Alabama—the epicenter of an intense struggle for migrant justice. The documentary’s purpose is to bring basic migration issues into focus. Those issues include the impact of free trade agreements on migration, the lack of a legal way for poor Latin Americans to come to the United States, the inherent abuses of the guest worker program, the fact that many migrants are indigenous people, anti-immigrant politics in Alabama, the thousands of migrant deaths at the border, and an escalating ideology of the border.

The Second Cooler consists of three overlapping story lines. First, illegal migrants talk about their lives, their experiences crossing borders illegally, and their experiences with deportation. Second, it proposes that illegal migrants’ lives and deaths are entangled with historical, economic, legal, racial, and social issues on both sides of the border. Third, visual motifs including Christian crosses relate these issues while emphasizing the approximately 5,000 migrants whose bodies have been recovered from the American southwest.

The Second Cooler differs from every other documentary to date on the subject. It raises a well-focused question: “Who benefits?” from illegal migration. It has interviews with 25 illegal migrants, including three children under the age of 12. It follows several of them throughout the feature. In addition it includes interviews with 55 professionals including historians, lawyers, clergy, labor union organizers, politicians, a Border Patrol agent, human rights advocates and others who untangle the threads of a complicated issue. When a viewer reaches the end of The Second Cooler, he or she will understand why 12 million migrants are here illegally and will be able to offer an informed answer to the question, “Who benefits?”

Hispanic men and women have a strong presence in The Second Cooler. Twenty-five of the cast of 80 interviewees are Hispanic. Most are migrants; others are professors and a Border Patrol agent. Mexican or Mexican-American artists who lent visual art to the documentary include the late Alberto Morackis and Guadalupe Serrano in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, Tucson, Arizona’s Alfred Quíroz, and Leticia V. Huerta of San Antonio, Texas. Two Latino songwriter / performers have provided original songs: migrant Tony Zapata “El Descendiente” of Birmingham, Alabama and Tucson’s “Pablo.”

English-Spanish, Spanish-English subtitles throughout.

This is writer / director Ellin Jimmerson’s first film. She has a Ph. D. in U. S. history, has done post-doctoral study in Latin American history, is an ordained Baptist minister, and is a prominent specialist in illegal migration. She uses Final Cut Pro software in editing. Noted actor Martin Sheen provided the voice-over. Composer Joseph Harchanko is a cellist, works with electronic music, and has scored four films. Hank Rogerson who wrote and directed Shakespeare Behind Bars, is the Senior Consulting Producer. Miles Merritt and Gail Kempler, whose movies include El Cochero and Una Causa Noble, are the Editors. Cinematographer Bill Schweikert, whose feature film, “Like Moles, Like Rats” was shown at the 2008 Cannes International Film Festival, has twenty-five years experience. The documentary was shot in HD, in part with a Red Camera.

The production company is the Huntsville Immigration Initiative, LLC. Its stated mission is “to advocate for migrant civil rights.” It has a cooperative agreement with the Interfaith Mission Service, Inc. for its 501c3 charity status. All donations are tax-deductible.

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