The perils of immigration are explored in Richard Levein’s timely film, Collisions. When twelve-year-old Itan, a straight-A student, comes home from school in San Francisco, she is stunned to find their furniture up-ended, and no trace of her mother, Yoana. A Child Protective Services representative takes Itan and her brother Neto to live with their unreliable, somewhat shady, carefree uncle, Evencio (Jesse Garcia, who also appeared in the film Quinceañera).
He lives in Oakland and is less than thrilled to be saddled with such a responsibility. Even though Itan does not like or trust her uncle, when she locates her mother at a detention center in Arizona, she plows ahead with a plan, convincing Evencio to take them on a search for Yoana in his truck. When they arrive in Arizona, their mother has been transferred to another prison, but Itan is desperate, and determined to free her mother before she is deported. Their difficult journey illustrates the tough challenges faced by today’s immigrants in the age of Trump. From the deserts along the southern U.S. border to truck stops and border patrol offices, the three travelers persevere on an arduous journey through the maze of current immigration protocols.
“Richard Levien’s wrenching debut Collisions follows a 12-year-old San Francisco girl (played by Izabella Alvarez) struggling to keep her family afloat after her mother is picked up by ICE agents. Levien devoted years to getting Collisions made—it premiered in October 2018 at the Mill Valley Film Festival—and the bad news is it’s as timely as the day he conceived of the idea.” —Michael Fox, KQED Arts
A New Zealand native and naturalized U.S. citizen who lives in San Francisco’s Mission district, Levien relates to the plight of immigrants who leave home in search of a better life in the United States. Collisions premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival in October ushered in an even more volatile situation with immigration, as the issue continued to escalate, becoming an instrumental part in the U.S. government shutdown early this year.
“Many people may be familiar with immigration from the headlines,” Levien says. “Watching the film, they will experience, viscerally, a mother separated from her children. They will see the incredibly difficult human choices at the heart of all immigration stories. Others may be intimately familiar with the experiences portrayed in the film, but have rarely seen them reflected back in a realistic, unsentimental way.”
When Levien began working on the script, his wife was a third grade teacher, and a child in her class had her father taken away and deported. It took weeks of building trust to discover why this girl, previously bright and engaged, was suddenly listless and prone to anger. He interviewed the child as part of his research, and discovered that her bravery and her sadness hit him in the gut in a way that no headline or statistic about immigration ever could.
Richard Levien has been writing, directing and editing award-winning films for 12 years. His short film Immersion, about a ten-year old boy from Mexico won the “No Violence” award at the Ann Arbor Film Festival, and Best Bay Area Short at the San Francisco International Film Festival. Thousands of families continue to be forcibly separated every year. Collisions is a powerful focal point for understanding how real families are affected by the “immigration crisis.”
There will be a Q&A with filmmaker after the screening.
Listen as KGUA radio host Peggy Berryhill and co-host Leigh Ann Lindsey interview the director.
For details about the film, showtimes, and to purchase tickets, click here.