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Getting intimate with Intimidad at the Denver Film Festival

An image from Intimidad.
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The first measure of any non-fiction narrative, whether written or visual, is how close it gets to the real lives of its subjects. As its title suggests, Intimidad, which screened at the Starz FilmCenter last night as part of the Denver Film Festival, seeks a level of depth into the daily experience of a young Mexican couple that viewers can feel as though they’ve stumbled upon the most heartbreaking and tender of home movies.

Shot over five years by filmmakers David Redmon and Ashley Sabin, the documentary follows 21-year-old Camilo Ramirez and his wife Cecy, who have moved from their isolated village to Reynosa, a large industrial city near the American boarder, with dreams of saving money to buy some land of their own. Both work long hours – Camilo at a factory building fire hydrants, Cecy sewing bras for Victoria’s Secret. So they were forced to leave their young daughter back at their village with relatives. After a year, the strain of separation is seriously affecting Cecy.

The problem is the grindingly slow progress toward their goal. Both make a monthly wage of $240. After food, bus fare, rent (they live in a shack with a wobbly tin roof) and money sent home, they can only save $15 per month, making the $7,200 cost of land seem unattainable. With such daunting math it’s no wonder why so many risk the illegal trek into the United States for work. Cecy returns home to be with their child and her sick father, while Camilo continues to work fourteen hours a day at the factory.

Clearly, filmmakers Ashley Sabin and David Redmon – who also co-directed last year's hurricane survivor study Kamp Katrina -- chose this topic with broader social issues in mind. But the real subject of this film isn’t immigration or even poverty. It’s about hope and love. If that sounds simplistic, that’s because the longing exchanges between the young couple reveal a love that is simple and amazingly pure.

Though the situation Camilo and Cecy ultimately find themselves in is far below what many audiences might consider hopeful, they end up together. And you can’t help but feel ecstatic for them. -- Jared Jacang Maher

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