Robens and James have a story to tell...

...that will change the way you think about the Mexican border.

CHECHE LAVI / LOOKING FOR LIFE A Project of Documentaries

Our documentary, CHECHE LAVI, is an intimate story of friendship and abandonment, set within a new and little-known subsection of the migrant crisis along the United States' southern border. We need your help to finish the film!

Our main characters are James and Robens, two friends who have come a very long way to reach the US. They each left their homes in Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010, and each spent time working menial jobs in Brazil. We trace their story as they undertake an incredibly arduous overland journey north in 2016, along with thousands of other Haitian migrants, hoping somehow to be allowed into the United States.

But before they are able to enter the United States, a seismic shift takes place. Trump takes power, and the ramifications of changing refugee policy wreak havoc on Tijuana's migrant population. The Haitian asylum seekers can see that they no longer have any reliable path into the States. The door has closed.

Faced with these impossible circumstances, James and Robens are forced to make snap decisions that carry immense consequences, splitting their destinies further and further apart. James ends up in ICE prison, and is ultimately deported back to Haiti, while Robens struggles to establish a stable life in the foreign landscape of Tijuana. Following these parallel stories, we see the psychological violence of draconian US immigration policies in vivid detail.


Robens at the Border Wall, Tijuana, February 2017


James in Haiti, August 2017


Today's toxic political climate, in which refugees and migrants have been increasingly stigmatized and vilified, calls for cinema to cut through the popular news media narratives emphasizing large-scale movements of undifferentiated black and brown "others". We must, in stead, pay clear-eyed attention to the lives of individual people swept up in global winds of change. CHECHE LAVI is a film determined to act in this spirit, to fight against the media's impulse to generalize and homogenize the global migrant crisis.


James and Robens in Tijuana, December 2016


We have completed three quarters of our production at this point, and we're currently raising money to finish the project as a feature length documentary. Any donation you make will be used to help us complete filming in both Haiti and Tijuana - and of course your name will appear in the credits!

Every little bit helps.

Thanks so much,

Sam Ellison, Rachel Cantave, Abraham Avila, Nora Mendis


$7,630 Raised
50% towards $15,000 Goal

Supported by 97 Donations: