Augie and Gino were living the American dream. Raised and educated in the United States since childhood, they were also proud veterans of the U.S. military. But in 1999, these two brothers were forced to leave the only country they’d ever known — and one they’d sworn to protect. Deported to Mexico by the U.S. government, they had to start over and forge new lives in an unfamiliar “homeland.”
Within two weeks, one of the brothers overdosed on heroin in a Tijuana hotel room. His body was left unclaimed for two months in a mass grave. In LOST SOULS(ANIMAS PERDIDAS), filmmaker Monika Navarro travels to Mexico and pieces together the tragic events of her uncles’s deportation, opening a Pandora’s box of family secrets.
Against the backdrop of increased attention to the U.S.-Mexican border, LOST SOULS draws on the Navarro family’s experience to explore national identity, migration, and what happens after deportees are sent to a homeland they don't even consider home. From idyllic Southern California — where the filmmaker’s Mexican American family has lived for more than four decades — to her uncles’s birthplace of Guadalajara, the film delves into the history that led to Augie and Gino’s deportations.
Featuring interviews with family members and weaving together family photographs, letters, and vérité footage, LOST SOULS is an epic story about an immigrant family with a complex history of abuse, addiction, and resilience. This compelling and personal documentary reveals what happens when a family confronts its past, and how its members have survived despite both physical and emotional forms of loss and exile. As Navarro says in the film, “I found myself also telling a different story — about the kind of exile that has nothing to do with the government.”
Filmmaker Monika Navarro provided an update in January 2010 on what some of the people featured in LOST SOULS have been doing since filming ended:
My Uncle Augie has moved out of my father’s house since filming ended, and his petition for readmittance to the United States will be a long process. The burden is on Augie to gather the necessary documents for his case, and unless there is a change in immigration law, there is little chance he will be able to return.