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Best Feature Documentary, 2013 Peace on Earth Film Festival, Chicago, IL
Official Selection, 22nd Arizona International Film Festival, Tucson, AZ
Film 4 Change Award, 2013 AMFM Fest, Cathedral City, CA.
Special Humanitarian Award (for Ellin Jimmerson), 2013 AMFM Fest, Cathedral City, CA
Film Heals Award, 2013 Manhattan Film Festival, New York City, NY
Official Selection, 2013 Red Rock International Film Festival, Hurricane, UT
Official Selection, 2013 Dominican Republic Global Film Festival, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Official Selection, 2013 Boston Latino Independent Film Festival, Boston, MA

Official Selection, 2014 Impugning Impunity ALBA Human Rights Festival, New York City, NY


Martin Sheen
Sheen is a stage, film, and television actor and a political activist. Born to an Irish immigrant mother and a Spanish immigrant father in Dayton, Ohio, his birth name is Ramón Gerard Antonio Estevez. He re-named himself Martin Sheen after Roman Catholic Bishop Fulton J. Sheen when he became an actor.
In 1965 Sheen received a Tony Award nomination for his role in The Subject Was Roses. He appeared in such television shows as Route 66, The Outer Limits, and My Three Sons before making his film debut in The Incident in 1967. In the 1970s Sheen had roles in Catch-22, adapted from Joseph Heller’s novel, Badlands (1973) co-starring Sissy Spacek and inspired by the story of serial killer Charles Starkweather, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979). He gave memorable performances in Gandhi (1982), Wall Street (1987), The American President (1995), and Catch Me if You Can (2002). He played Ben Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012).

Martin Sheen’s television credits include The Execution of Private Slovik (1974) for which he received an Emmy Award nomination, The West Wing (1999-2006) in which he played President Josiah Bartlett and for which he won a Best Actor Golden Globe Award (2001), and an appearance on his son Charlie Sheen’s comedy Two and a Half Men.

Sheen is a pro-life, anti-nuclear weapons, pro-workers’ rights activist. He is particularly committed to closing the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, otherwise known as the School of the Americas, located on the Ft. Benning, Georgia military base. He believes that the Institute is closely associated with Latin American military dictatorships and political torture. He has been arrested numerous times for non-violent civil disobedience.

Martin Sheen has an honorary doctor of letters degree from Marquette University (2003). In 2007 he realized his lifelong dream of studying at the National University of Ireland in Galway. Notre Dame University awarded him the Laetare Medal, given to prominent Roman Catholics, in 2008.


Director / Producer / Writer / Editor
Ellin Jimmerson
The Second Cooler is Ellin Jimmerson’s first film. She edited it using Final Cut Pro 7.

She has an MA in Southern History from Samford University, a Ph. D. in U. S. History from the University of Houston, and a Masters of Theological Studies from Vanderbilt Divinity School with a concentration in Latin American liberation theology. She is Minister to the Community at Weatherly Heights Baptist Church in Huntsville. She writes, speaks, and preaches on the intersection of history and faith and is a prominent advocate for illegal migrants, guest workers, and domestic laborers.

Jimmerson is the author of numerous published essays and articles. Her newspaper opinion-editorials on illegal migration include “If It Is a Sin to Cross, I Hope God Forgives Me,” Huntsville Times, December 22, 2006, “Illegal Immigration,” Mobile Press-Register, March 2, 2008, and “Open Letter to Governor Bentley, Senator Beason and Representative Hammon About HB 56,” which appeared in the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Press-Register, and the Montgomery Advertiser in the summer of 2011. One of her sermons on illegal migration is “Reflections on the Migrant Trail Walk.” You can read her opinion-editorials and sermon by going to “Writings.”

Jimmerson was a plaintiff in the case of HICA, et. al. v. the State of Alabama because of its anti-immigrant law, HB 56. The Southern Poverty Law Center represented her.

In 2010, Ellin Jimmerson was nominated for a $10,000 prize for human rights advocacy by the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives and the Puffin Foundation. In 2011, she won a special award for social justice by the Interfaith Mission Service, Inc. in Huntsville, AL and received a special Humanitarian Award at the AMFM Festival of Art, Music, and Film in Cathedral City, CA

Consulting Producer
Hank Rogerson
Rogerson is a producer, director, writer, and actor who works in both documentary and fiction films. He directed Shakespeare Behind Bars, a documentary about prisoners in Kentucky’s Luther Luckett Correctional Complex who find forgiveness and healing by staging Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The film was shown at the Sundance and Edinburgh International Film Festivals and won 11 awards on the film festival circuit including various Best Feature Film and Audience Award prizes at the Orinda Film Festival, Bend Film Festival, Heartland Film Festival, River’s Edge Film Festival and the Special Jury Award at the Independent Film Festival of Boston. The film has been broadcast all around the world and had a theatrical run of over 25 US cities.

Rogerson’s current project is Still Dreaming, a documentary film about a group of elderly entertainment veterans as they bravely mount A Midsummer’s Night Dream, William Shakespeare’s romp through a fantastical moonlit forest. Its projected release date is 2012.

Rogerson has co-produced and edited Homeland: Four Portraits of Native Action, an award-winning documentary about four battles in which Native Americans activists are fighting to preserve their land, sovereignty and culture, and Circle of Stories, a cutting-edge multi-media project that brings to life the vibrant art of Native American storytelling for

As a film maker, Hank Rogerson twice has been a Sundance Institute Fellow. He is a professor of film at Santa Fe University of Art & Design. His production company, with parter Jillann Spitzmiller, is Philomath Films. As an actor, he has performed in film, television, theater, and improv, most recently on the USA Network series, In Plain Sight, ABC’s Scoundrels, and in the Starz series, Crash.

Sound Mixer
Bill Jackson
Bill Jackson has been mixing documentaries, shorts, episodic television and records most of his life, and has earned an Emmy Award for outstanding Sound Mixing for HBO’s Entourage. His other recent credits include House of Lies, How to Live with Your Parents, The Finder, Breaking In, and Awake. Jackson was a musician in his youth and spent much of his early career as a recording engineer in the record industry. He has engineered a number of gold and platinum records for such artists as Los Lobos and Sheila E, and was introduced to film work through composer Danny Elfman with whom he had worked on several album projects for the band Oingo Boingo.

Documentaries that Jackson has mixed include The Long Bike Back, Behind the Blue Veil, The Paw Project, Fate of a Salesman, Granny’s Got Game, Fight Like a Girl, Curtain Up, Surviving Disaster, Last Ride of the Chatham Bookmobile, “Keeping the Kibbutz” – PBS version, Rick Carter – A Day in the Life, Facing Forward, USIP, My Marilyn, C-C-Cut, Beyond the Mesas, Gullah, Beautiful Resistance, Whoosh, Bonus DVD for Lady and the Tramp 50th Anniversary Edition and Cinderella Special Edition DVD’s.

Other Films for which he has either recorded and mixed music, or mixed the final dub of the film include Goldilocks (shot with an iPhone 4), Affliction, Albino Alligator, Army of Darkness, Article 99, Back To The Beach, Batman, Batman Returns, Beetle Juice, Bereft, The Big Squeeze, Cabin Boy, China Moon, Cold Blooded, Cold Feet, Dark Man, Dead Presidents, Desperado, Dwegons, Edward Scissorhands, Face Like a Frog, Freeway, Ghostbusters II, Good Will Hunting, Hair Show, Heat, Hot to Trot, La Bamba, Little Big League, Meet the Deedles, Meet Wally Sparks, Midnight Run, Mission Impossible, Mississippi Burning, My Chauffeur, National Lampoon’s Senior Trip, Night Canvas, NightBreed, Nightmare Before Christmas, No Small Affair, Onami, Orgazmo, Pass The Ammo, Pee Wee’s Big Top, Phenomenon, Point Break, Purple Rain, Radioactive Dreams, Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion, Scrooged, The Secret Garden, Shout, Shrunken Heads, Summer School, The Tigger Movie, Things to Do In Denver W/Y Dead, To Die For, Under Siege, Winter Sea, Wisdom.

Bill Schweikert
Schweikert is a freelance cinematographer based in Huntsville, Alabama. He has 25 years filmmaking experience. His many credits include 20 Years After which was shown at the Cannes International Film Festival under the name Like Moles, Like Rats. He has shot numerous feature films, documentaries, and commercials in Alabama, Mississippi, New York, Arizona, Texas, Mexico, England, and elsewhere.

Adam Valencia
Adam Valencia is an Arizona born Filmmaker living in Los Angeles where he works as a cinematographer and editor on various visual media endeavors. His directorial efforts include a western short, shot at Old Tucson Studios, as well as LOST WEEKEND: his latest short film, which is an homage to 80’s action-adventure movies. His goal is to direct major motion pictures. He is also a drummer, comic book reader, and an all around nice guy.

“It didn’t take much to convince me to come onboard [The Second Cooler]. I can only hope that the journey we took in getting these interviews will likewise inspire others to ask questions, get involved, and more importantly, create change. Mask it what they will, this is an issue about human beings that are dying because of a system that seemingly gives them little or no option. I hope this film will make people stop and think the next time they walk into the grocery section of their local Super Wal-Mart.”

Consulting Editors
Miles Merritt
Merritt began his career with TV Guide Magazine in Los Angeles. Miles subsequently began working as writer/producer with New Century Images, a video production studio based in Los Angeles that specialized in the development of videos for private industry and various city departments.
In 1997, Merritt moved to New York to work with the cable news station in White Plains. As writer and producer, he helped create a show for the Mayor of that city, as well as several short documentaries.

His directorial debut was with the short film El Cochero (The Carriage Driver), based on Anton Chekov’s short story, “Heartache.” Produced in Mexico and starring Alonso Echanove, it was an official selection in 15 film festivals internationally. Billy Collins, U. S. Poet Laureate 2001-2003, wrote that, “El Cochero is a poignant, beautifully paced, vividly colored piece of cinematic lyricism.” It was chosen as one of the opening night films at the prestigious Expresión En Corto Film Festival in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico where it won four awards.

His subsequent short film, Una Causa Noble (A Noble Cause), about a Mexican worker who enlists in the US military, starred Montserrat de León. It was an official selection at twenty four film festivals internationally and earned two awards. Iconic Greek film maker, Costa Gavras, said of Una Causa Noble: “This is a necessary movie. We know these stories from the media. The film, its images and its characters, give reality and soul to the facts.” Una Causa Noble has also been screened at various Hispanic community organizations, global justice centers and high schools as part of an outreach program to bring greater awareness to the public on issues pertaining to immigration.

Gail Kempler
Kempler co-produced and edited the two award-winning short films El Cochero ( and Una Causa Noble (, both of which were filmed in Mexico. From her work related to Una Causa Noble, she became involved in outreach in the area of immigration. She has also edited a number of corporate and special occasion videos.

Joseph Harchanko
Harchanko is an electric cellist and composer. He has written extensively for traditional instruments, large ensembles, digital media, and film.
Harchanko lives in Salem, Oregon. He received an ASCAP Film Scoring Fellowship to the Aspen Music Festival and has received fellowships from the Lilly Endowment and the University of Texas. His works have been performed across North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia including performances at New York’s Carnegie Hall, London’s Colourscape installation, France’s Bourges and Videoformes festivals, The Korean Electroacoustic Festival, and New Music Tasmania.


Running Time: 79:40


MPAA Rating: (NA). Suitable for all audiences over 13. No offensive language, nudity, sexual content or violence.

Aspect Ratio: 16:9

Format: 1080/60p


Production Company
Huntsville Immigration Initiative, LLC in cooperative agreement with Interfaith Mission Service, Inc., a 501c3 charitable organization.

The Huntsville Immigration Initiative, Limited Liability Company is a program of the Huntsville Immigration Initiative (HII). HII, LLC is a legal entity in the state of Alabama formed to “advocate for migrant civil rights.” It was formed in May, 2008 by HII member Ellin Jimmerson for the purpose of writing, directing, and producing a documentary that will develop awareness among Latino migrants, their non-Latino advocates, and anti-immigrant groups about fundamental immigration issues.


Electronic Press Kit: kit

Contact Ellin Jimmerson @ Contact.

The Second Cooler

The Second Cooler is a migrant justice documentary for English and Spanish speaking audiences which unravels why twelve million Latin American migrants are in the U. S. illegally and brings major implications into focus. Martin Sheen narrates.

Expanded Synopsis
The Second Cooler asks, ‘Who benefits?’ from illegal immigration while bringing major systemic issues into focus. These issues include US complicity in creating Latin America’s extreme inequality, the Federally anticipated, devastating impact of the North American Free Trade Agreement on millions of Mexican peasants, the militarization of the US / MEX border in anticipation of those displacements, the US’s socially-encoded dual legal entry system which discriminates against poor and/or indigenous people, the exception of the guest worker program which is a system of legally indentured servitude, and the deaths of thousands of illegally-crossing migrants along the United States’ southwestern border.

By bringing the major factors behind illegal migration into focus, The Second Cooler reframes the debate and suggest solutions that will primarily benefit foreign and domestic workers rather than corporations and employers. Most of these suggested solutions, including creating a legal way for poor and / or indigenous Latin Americans to come to the United States, a way which would automatically stop the deaths of migrants, have never been proposed as aspects of “Comprehensive Immigration Reform” most of which include expansions of the militarized border and of the guest worker program.

The title refers to the second morgue refrigerator, or “second cooler” as it is called, which the Pima County, Arizona Medical Examiner’s Office had to install to store the hundreds of migrant bodies which come to their offices every year. Many of the bodies cannot be identified and are sometimes stored for years at a time.

The movie includes rare interviews with illegal immigrants, including several children, and guest workers in on-going law suits. Original art, music, and score. Fully subtitled in English and Spanish.

There is a postscript in which director Ellin Jimmerson acknowledges that, during the editing of the movie, her sixteen year old daughter and her daughter’s boyfriend were killed by a drunk driver. The driver was an unauthorized migrant from Mexico.

Story Line
The Second Cooler consists of three overlapping story lines. First, illegal migrants talk about their lives and their experiences crossing borders illegally. 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 white crosses and snarling police dogs 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 in terms of focus, approach, and artistic qualities.

First, 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 film. 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 in the United States illegally and will be able to offer an informed answer to the question, “Who benefits?” The premise is that only when we understand who is benefitting from illegal migration and who is paying the highest price can we begin to find solutions grounded in justice rather than political expediency.

Second, The Second Cooler deliberately does not follow the formula of following one migrant or a group of migrants through a harrowing crossing experience. Instead, approaching the subject matter as a murder mystery to be solved it asks the viewer to call into question the system that pushes migrants into crossing illegally.

Third, the look and sound of The Second Cooler are original. Its approach to illegal migration as a mystery to be solved resulted in a score that prompts unease with and shock over the system. The look, too, is unusual because of its extensive use of murals, paintings, sculptures and other border art that sometimes offer ironic commentary on statements being made by the narrator or witness.

Director’s Statement
“As a child in two viciously segregationist southern towns—Albany, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama—I saw how easy it was to humiliate and injure other human beings. As a historian, I know that the United States is not an innocent bystander to Latin America’s outpouring of its people. As an ordained Baptist minister, I feel called to advocate for justice by exposing humiliating, death-dealing systems in order to change them.

The Second Cooler is intensely important to me. We in Alabama still invoke the memory of the four little girls who died in the 1963 bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Little girls are dying again. Milka Lopez-Herrera was 1 year old when her body was recovered from Arizona’s Sonora Desert. Lorna Celeste Robles Enriquez was 5. Olivia Elizabeth Luna Noguera was 11. Lourdes Cruz Morales was 12.

I want the deaths to stop. And I want Alabama to honor Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley by taking the lead.”

Production History
Production of The Second Cooler began in April, 2008 and concluded in October, 2012. It is Ellin Jimmerson’s first film.

The movie is independent in terms of financing and vision. Financially, it was produced solely with charitable donations. In terms of vision, from the first day, everyone from recent film school graduates to programmers for public television told Jimmerson that audiences were not interested in such things as the North American Free Trade Agreement. What she needed to do, they said, was follow one migrant or one group of migrants through a harrowing illegal crossing.

However, because she had spoken to thousands of people about immigration for years, she knew that audiences genuinely are interested in policy–in fact they were more interested in policy than in crossing stories in many instances. She decided to go with her instincts and her passion for revealing injustice in order to change it. Audience responses have proved her right.

On the night of April 17, 2009, Jimmerson’s personal life intersected in a dramatic and very public way with her migrant advocacy. Her 16 year old daughter, Leigh Anna Jimmerson, and Leigh Anna’s 19 year old boyfriend, Tad Joseph Mattle, were killed by a drunk driver at an extremely busy intersection in Huntsville, AL. The car exploded on impact and Leigh Anna’s body burned up in view of people who had known her and Tad. The driver was an undocumented migrant from Mexico who had helped one of the translators for the movie. The story, and Jimmerson’s decision to continue editing her movie and in her advocacy, was on the front page of the local newspapers and eventually made its into national and international publications. The driver subsequently pleaded guilty to two counts of murder for which he was convicted. He is now in prison in Alabama.

A year after her daughter’s death, Jimmerson became part of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s suit against Alabama Governor Robert Bentley over HB 56, the nation’s harshest anti-immigrant law. Univisión, the largest Spanish language network in the US, did a long piece about HB 56 on its show Aquí y Ahora which ran on August 2, 2011. The Univisión piece focused on Ellin Jimmerson and The Second Cooler as well as HB 56 generally. Broadcast of the show brought Jimmerson hundreds of Facebook “friend” requests from im/migrants, their families, and advocates all over the United States, Canada, and Mexico. A number of those friends have since become part of her unofficial production team. For example, Tucson’s Joel Smith lent her dozens of photographs for the movie. Others helped with translation, financing, focus group screening, and encouragement.

Jimmerson believes that having the movie and her advocacy to get back to was what helped keep her going after her daughter’s death.

The most difficult task was determining whether to acknowledge what happened to her daughter in the documentary. There were two compelling reasons for acknowledging the accident. One was that hate talk show hosts as well as bloggers latched onto the story the day after the accident–it was not going to be possible to ignore it. The other was that Jimmerson’s point of view always had been that reality in its fullness has to be revealed if unjust systems are to be changed.

Some people close to the project suggested that she make her personal story part of the movie. However, she decided against this, choosing instead to offer a simple acknowledgment of what had happened in a postscript.

Screening History
As of January, 2014, The Second Cooler has screened at the 2013 Peace on Earth Film Festival in Chicago, the 22nd Arizona International Film Festival in Tucson, the AMFM Fest in Cathedral City, CA, the Manhattan Film Festival in New York City, the Boston Latino International Film Festival, the Red Rock Film Festival in Hurricane, UT, and the Dominican Republic Global Film Festival in Santo Domingo.

It had a week’s run at the Magic Lantern Theater in Spokane, WA.

It screened at events sponsored by the Interfaith Mission Service and at the Restorative Justice Conference in Huntsville, AL, the Alliance of Baptists in Greenville, SC,  and at St. Luke’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Allentown, PA. It also screened at DeSales University in Center Valley, PA.

It is scheduled to screen at several events sponsored by the New Mexico Coalition for Immigrant Justice in Albuquerque, NM, the Cal Thomas Program for Moral Leadership at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, TN, and at the Chicago Theological Seminary.

There have been no free screenings.

Target Audience
The target audience for The Second Cooler are migrant advocates, migrants, and people with an interest in illegal migration who need to understand, for example, why they don’t come legally in order to become advocates.

Shooting Locations
The documentary was shot primarily in Alabama, Arizona, the US / MEX Borderlands, and central Mexico.

English-Spanish, Spanish-English subtitles throughout.

Press Kit Photos

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The Second Cooler Official Trailer-Vimeo Upload 720p from Ellin Jimmerson on Vimeo.