Co-directors Michael Ray Escamilla and Mando Alvarado (both of whom have featured in TV’s “Law and Order” series) are also the stars of “Cruzando”. This clever, funny and atmospheric feature is set in the directors’ home town of La Valle, on the Mexico / US border. It depicts a delicately shaded rites of passage and a deeply moving exploration of the relationship between place and personal identity. A young man, Manuel, needs to cross into the USA, not for economic reasons but to visit his estranged father who, he discovers, is on Death Row. His friend, Diego, comes along to video the journey (adding a layer of witty meta-narrative to the, already rich, texture of the film). With its cool, knowing soundtrack and brilliant cinematography, “Cruzando” avoids all the usual clichés and adds up to a profound and heartfelt account of a personal quest, as well as a thought-provoking treatise on the paradoxes of exile and belonging. Highly recommended.

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