Who is Dayani Cristal? Award-winning film airs nationally this weekend


As President Obama ponders when and what executive action he will take on immigration, he has made clear that he is committed to increased border enforcement (Sept. 5 press conference in Wales). While we urge the broadest possible forms of relief from detention and deportation of immigrants, we cannot relent on the need to shift US policy from its emphasis on punitive border enforcement, with its real consequences of immigrant abuse and deaths. Coupling some form of relief from deportation with increased border enforcement does not “balance” as a sound and humane policy.

What is taking place at the US-Mexico border? Watch the award-winning film, Who is Dayani Cristal?, for one story of a migrant journey at the border. Be sure to view the film's  educational and action tools.

Airing on Univision on Saturday, Sept. 6 and on Fusion on Sunday, Sept. 7. Click here for screenings.

[Photo and text via Who is Dayani Cristal?] Who is Dayani Cristal?, is an intimate examination of the journey of one migrant who perished in the Arizona desert, far from his native Honduras, with no real identification but a name tattooed over his heart. The documentary was produced by and features Gael Garcia Bernal. The film weaves together real-life attempts to identify the migrant's body with Bernal's retracing of the journey he would have most likely taken through the "corridor del muerte" to reach the U.S. with hopes of improving the lives of his family. 

Deep in the sun-blistered Sonora desert beneath a cicada tree, Arizona border police discover a decomposing male body. Lifting a tattered T-shirt, they expose a tattoo that reads “Dayani Cristal”.

 Who is this person? What brought him here? How did he die?

And who—or what—is Dayani Cristal?

 Following a team of dedicated staff from the Pima County Morgue in Arizona, director Marc Silver seeks to answer these questions and give this anonymous man an identity. As the forensic investigation unfolds, Mexican actor and activist Gael Garcia Bernal retraces this man’s steps along the migrant trail in Central America. In an effort to understand what it must have felt like to make this final journey, he embeds himself among migrant travelers on their own mission to cross the border. He experiences first-hand the dangers they face and learns of their motivations, hopes and fears. As we travel north, these voices from the other side of the border wall give us a rare insight into the human stories which are so often ignored in the immigration debate.

Who Is Dayani Cristal? tells the story of a migrant who found himself in the deadly stretch of desert known as “the corridor of death” and shows how one life becomes testimony to the tragic results of the U.S. war on immigration. As the real-life drama unfolds we see this John Doe, denied an identity at his point of death, become a living and breathing human being with an important life story.

Stay posted on border information and updates

Check out NNIRR's website section on Border Justice, a work in progress, for information and updates on "the border":