Video Essay Review: The Sixth Section/La Sexta Sección

September 25, 2007

Transnationalism is the buzzword used by scholars seeking to explain the identity, culture and social structures of immigrants straddling two societies simultaneously. In the documentary The Sixth Section, director Alex Rivera rescues the concept of transnationalism from abstraction by exploring the complex and contradictory realities of a community struggling to maintain unity across vast spaces of distance and time. As the film follows a group of mostly undocumented Mexican immigrants who organize to fund social works projects back home, it provides a thoughtful critique of current U.S. immigration policy and its role in compounding the obstacles faced by immigrants attempting to maintain a cohesive community.

Huddling under a tent in a snowy backyard in upstate New York, immigrants from Boqueron, Puebla initially formed the community organization Grupo Unión to raise money for the construction of a baseball stadium in their hometown. Despite the desperate need for improved basic services like water, roads, education and health care, the stadium came first. But with the building of the stadium, Grupo Unión gains momentum and completes other projects in Boqueron, some more successful than others. The film conveys the significance of the stadium as a symbol of the group’s commitment to improving conditions in their home community and their determination to maintain roots in Mexico.

While hopeful about the potential power of grassroots organizing and hometown organizations, The Sixth Section is a sober portrayal of the paradox of opportunity and loss confronted by millions of immigrants seeking new spaces for home and community across borders.

About the Author
Sarah Garland is NACLA's editorial assista


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