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INDEPENDENT LENS: Lost Souls (Animas Perdidas)

Airs Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Above: Augie Garcia outside the boarding house where he lived in downtown Guadalajara, Mexico. Set against the backdrop of increased attention to the U.S.-Mexican border, “Lost Souls” explores national identity, the lives of immigrants and what happens after deportees are sent to a homeland they no longer consider home.

Augie and Gino were living the American dream. Raised and educated in the United States since childhood, they were also proud veterans of the U.S. military. But in 1999, these two brothers were forced to leave the only country they’d ever known — and one they’d sworn to protect. Deported to Mexico by the U.S. government, they had to start over and forge new lives in an unfamiliar “homeland.”

Within two weeks, one of the brothers overdosed on heroin in a Tijuana hotel room. His body was left unclaimed for two months in a mass grave. In "Lost Souls (Animas Perdidas)," filmmaker Monika Navarro travels to Mexico and pieces together the tragic events of her uncles’s deportation, opening a Pandora’s box of family secrets.

Behind the Scenes

Director/producer/co-writer Monika Navarro talks about the challenges of filming a relative who is struggling with addiction, her decision to put her own story into the film, and the impact of the film on her family. Watch now

Against the backdrop of increased attention to the U.S.-Mexican border, "Lost Souls" draws on the Navarro family’s experience to explore national identity, migration, and what happens after deportees are sent to a homeland they don't even consider home. From idyllic Southern California — where the filmmaker’s Mexican American family has lived for more than four decades — to her uncles’s birthplace of Guadalajara, the film delves into the history that led to Augie and Gino’s deportations.

Featuring interviews with family members and weaving together family photographs, letters, and vérité footage, "Lost Souls" is an epic story about an immigrant family with a complex history of abuse, addiction, and resilience. This compelling and personal documentary reveals what happens when a family confronts its past, and how its members have survived despite both physical and emotional forms of loss and exile. As Navarro says in the film, “I found myself also telling a different story — about the kind of exile that has nothing to do with the government.”

Video

Video Excerpt: Independent Lens: Lost Souls (Animas Perdidas)

Above: In 1999, filmmaker Monika Navarro's uncles were deported from the United States to Mexico, forced to leave the only country they knew and, as servicemen, had pledged to protect. Set against the backdrop of increased attention to the U.S.-Mexican border, "Lost Souls (Animas Perdidas)" explores national identity, the lives of immigrants and what happens after deportees are sent to a homeland they no longer consider home.