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Purgatorio on - The Best Documentaries... Instantly On Demand

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A mosaic of vignettes about the everyday struggles of those who work and live in the borderlands separating Mexico and America. Purgatorio is a surreal journey through this stark, other-worldly no-man’s-land. Women dressed as angels walk the streets, urging people to seek God, while many look for salvation elsewhere: drugs, crime or across the border in the fabled land of hope. Border politics meets the poetic in this provocative portrayal of the brutal beauty that is the US-Mexico border.

For most, the border is just a line on a map, but it has a definite physical presence; three measurable dimensions. The most important one - the height of its fence - is sized up by two Mexicans who are standing in its shadow. Their well-stuffed bags make their intentions clear. "It took me 22 days to get here", says the younger one. "Twenty-two days, to go back with empty hands? No, boss." On the other side, somewhere in the seemingly interminable USA desert, patrol cars roam.

But the police aren't the only Americans out there. An old Christian man is also wandering the inhospitable borderlands, hiding care packages containing food and water in the scarce vegetation. They will provide welcome, perhaps vital, sustenance for the border-crossers. Another collects litter that he claims marks the trails that the immigrants follow. His intentions are less altruistic, though imbued with patriotism. By removing the cans and bottles that mark their path, he throws off the immigrants and gives the border police the upper hand. "You know, some people hunt dear, elk. Well if you hunt an individual, that's even a greater thrill", he enthuses.

Twenty-thousand dogs euthanised in a clean-up operation. A Western immigrant based showdown in a border town-turned-film set. A home for the mentally unstable set up by a recovering drug addict. These are just some of the sights and places that feature in this unique portrait of a region known above all for its illegal human traffic. Purgatorio asks the question: would anyone ever really want to be here for more than a few hours? Amazingly, the answer is that there are many who choose to spend their lives in this hell hole of a region.


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