After watching Between 2 Shores by Mariette Monpierre on January 29, 2018 (8pm EST), as part of season 10 of AfroPop: The Ultimate Cultural Exchange, you may have a lot of questions and thoughts about the film’s key issues. Here is the background on the film and some discussion prompts for engaging audience members. For more prompts and resources for those seeking additional information, you can download the complete guide to Between 2 Shores here.
Based on work by journalist Christelle Théophile, Between 2 Shores: From Pointe à Pitre to Santo Domingo, tells the stories of two very different women who share a common dilemma. Johanna and Cristina are Dominican women who risked their lives by taking to the sea to search for a better life in Guadeloupe. After thirteen years, each of the women has gained legal status on the French island, but they are still fighting to get the proper papers for their children to come and live with them.
Theirs is a common story for thousands of immigrants who have left everything behind in order to improve the lives of their children, only to find that immigration laws and red tape prevent family reunification. This is especially troubling for women like Cristina and Johanna who have born children on both islands. Current government policies force them to choose which children to leave behind. Not surprisingly, the impact on the entire family, including the children that live with their mothers, is heart-wrenching. Still, the families manage to hold on to hope.
Topics: child welfare, colonialism, Caribbean, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, family, family reunification, human rights, human trafficking, immigration law and policy, migration, socioeconomic class
Selected People Featured in the Film
Johanna Olivares is 40 years old. After working in a political party and as a police officer in the Dominican Republic, she pursued the promise of a better job in Guadeloupe even though it meant entering the country without proper documents. She quickly discovered that the offer was scam to recruit prostitutes. Rather than succumb to that life, she found work as a nanny and then in the construction industry. She married, and eventually opened her own restaurant on the beach of Galbas in Sainte Anne.
Joan, the eldest at twenty, lives in the DR in an apartment his mother rents for him.
Jomeify, 13, lives in the DR with his mother’s friend; Johanna sends money for his expenses.
Léandra is 11 and lives with her mother and younger brother in Guadeloupe.
John-Sylvert is 3 and lives with his mother and older sister in Guadeloupe.
Angela Cristina Beato is 38 years old. She arrived clandestinely in Guadeloupe and has been employed on and off. She has one son, Widdy, who was born in Guadeloupe, and was able to bring her Dominican-born daughter to live with her. But her 13-year-old son, Edison, still lives in the Dominican Republic. She continues to fight to gain even a holiday visa so her entire family can spend time together.
Mariette Monpierre was born in Guadeloupe and grew up in Paris. She earned a Masters Degree in media & languages at the Sorbonne University and Smith College before beginning her career at BBDO New York, producing commercials for Pepsi, Visa, Campbell’s, Pizza Hut, Gillette, & FedEx. Her first independent piece, Knowledge is Power, was a documentary commissioned by the New York City Health Department in 1998 to raise HIV/AIDS awareness.
In 2002, Monpierre’s documentary “Sweet Mickey for President?” won Best Documentary at the Reel Sisters Film Festival in New York. Her first theatrical work, a short film “Rendez-Vous,” was also nominated for several awards and included in a handful of major film festivals.
Monpierre is best known for her acclaimed 2011 feature length film, Elza (Le Bonheur d’Elza) which explored issues of racism, colonialism, class, and children abandoned by their fathers. Subsequent works include Paris la métisse (2005) and Archipels (2007).
Recommended for: high school, college, and adult audiences
In a word, what’s your initial reaction to this film?
If you were going to tell a friend about this film, what would you say?
Describe a moment in the film that you found particularly moving. What was it about that scene that was especially compelling?
Did you see anything familiar? What do you have in common with the women and/or children in the film?
Were you surprised by anything in the film?
If you could ask Cristina or Johanna one question, what would you want to know?
Reviewing Core Content
What did you learn from the film about why people immigrate and the impact that migration can have on families?
Why would Guadeloupe want to prevent Dominican-born children from joining immigrant mothers who have obtained legal status on the French island?
For more discussion prompts on immigration policy, family dynamics, and filmmaking choices, download the complete guide here.