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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Values examined in AIFF’s Bridging Culture shorts






    Laredo, Texas

    “”Laredo, Texas”” follows the interactions between new employee Juan and his assigned mentor, Sam. Sam is supposed to be teaching Juan the trade of the pay phone maintenance man. They go through the motions of the collections process and functionality tests. As they work, Sam makes snide comments about the Mexicans who come across the border and have to use the pay phones to get in touch with those they are meeting on the other side. He gets suspicious and begins asking questions about Juan’s origins, which Juan answers with shrugs and vague gestures. Sam is enraged at the thought that this new worker might be undocumented, and fumes about the “”job-stealing”” citizens from across the border. Juan points out that Sam is Hispanic himself; this accusation only angers Sam further. The two of them have a heated argument about values and the struggle to make a living, no matter your background. In the end, they drive away in near-silence, with Juan asking only one last question about Sam’s full name. “”No Samuel, just Sam,”” is Sam’s curt reply.

    This short is particularly relevant to the local Tucson audience. Though it is set in the title city of Laredo, Texas, the film could just as easily take place in any other border town, including those close to us in Arizona. Sam’s abandonment and then denial of his own culture is especially poignant, as such losses are frequent among many cultures, whether native or immigrant. In contrast, Juan’s pride in his heritage, though he refuses to talk about it in detail, is apparent. This short film personalizes the issues surrounding immigration through the characters of Juan and Sam.

    Lychee Thieves

    On the islands of Hawaii, the lychee tree is a prized commodity. The tree only flowers and bears its decadent fruit once a year. Some have made a livelihood out of roaming around and stealing fruit from unsuspecting neighbors’ yards. Arnie and Ethel, who appear to be fairly recent imports from the mainland, have one of the beloved lychee trees in their garden, and it is bearing fruit for the first time. All of Ethel’s coworkers are covetous of the fruit, and the couple decides it must be picked. However, instead of allowing a native Hawaiian to pick their fruit by hand for a small fee, they contract a team of Caucasians to get down the fruit. In their hurry and prejudice, Arnie and Ethel wind up sacrificing the branches and limbs of the tree, ensuring that it will never bear fruit again.

    “”Lychee Thieves”” examines cultural contrast in terms of value. Arnie and Ethel value “”getting theirs”” over preserving the life and future of the tree which bears the very fruit they covet. Only the local fruit picker mourns the loss of the tree, which could have been spared were it not for the couple’s greed.

    Easy Made Hard

    From the opening scene, the audience comes to understand Mr. Brown as a licorice-bearing, God-fearing man. One day, after handing out licorice to the neighborhood children on his way home from the grocery store, he arrives at this house to discover his estranged son inside. Tension mounts as Mr. Brown must tell his son that he is no longer welcome in his home. The son has been accused of rape, along with a number of other crimes, and seems to feel no remorse. The anger between the two builds, their argument becoming more vicious by the moment until the son brandishes a handgun at his own father. During the ensuing struggle, the gun changes hands. Mr. Brown insists his son repent, and when he is ignored, he pulls the trigger. The gunshot rings out overtop the chanting of the girls’ jump rope rhymes outside.

    “”Easy Made Hard”” addresses the potential for clashing cultures even among families and blood relatives. Mr. Brown and his son clearly had different values and understandings of morality, and yet the son was convinced that his father would take him back in and give him sanctuary. This is clearly not the case, and Mr. Brown ends up committing an act he never would have under other circumstances. Music and rhythm play a powerful role in setting the tone of this brief and somber short.

     

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