POV: What happened to Magdiel? Did he make it?
Natalia Almada: It was very important for me to leave the film open-ended because I wanted the audience to really feel what Magdiel felt when he embarked on his journey and what his family felt when they said goodbye to him. That said, for those who come to the website, Magdiel did make it to the United States. He worked in the Los Angeles area for three months and then decided to return home to Sinaloa. However, through Pepe Garza from La Que Buena, Magdiel got a visa to return to the United States and have two of his songs recorded.
The important thing is that when someone embarks on the uncertain journey across the border, they don’t know what the outcome will be. When Magdiel left his family and home he didn’t know what his future held. He could make it across and become a star like Los Tigres, make it across and become another illegal worker, or die along the way and be another anonymous body found along the border.
POV: What’s been the overall reaction to the film?
Almada: The film has been really well received in the U.S., Mexico and in the most unexpected places around the world. The biggest difference I find between a Mexican audience and a U.S. audience is that Mexicans tend to laugh more when they watch the film.
POV: What is the inevitable question that you’re asked after screenings? Any memorable moments or incidents that made you re-think how you approached any aspects of the film?
Almada: The first question is always “What happened to Magdiel?” and while I always try to keep the audience in the dark, someone inevitably traps me into giving away the answer.
POV: Can you tell us about your current projects? Has your subsequent work been influenced in a particular way because of your experiences (both stylistically and technically) from working on this film?
Almada: My new project, currently titled El General, is about my family history in Mexico. The film will be very different from Al Otro Lado because it is a more personal story and is set within a historical context. As a filmmaker I’m interested in finding diverse ways to express my point of view. My hope is that I can one day have a body of work that is very diverse in form and content, yet reflects my perspective and experience. I am very excited that I will be working with Chuy Chavez and Sam Pollard on El General.