Who is Dayani Cristal? DVD Review

The movie title and DVD cover gives nothing away nor does the brief write up on the back of the DVD Case in terms of what exactly this move is about. I love watching movies like this as you don’t know what to expect and I refused to Google it, I mean “who is Dayani Crystal” is a strange name.

It boils down to a documentary but beautifully shot and portrayed on screen.

The Plot

It’s a documentary style movie about the plight of a single undocumented immigrant who travels and braves the 58 day journey from Honduras by foot, bus and train then crossing the border in Texas, to finally hike over the Arizona desert to illegally get to an America town to find a job. This is not a spoiler as the intro to the movie shows his dead body, 20 minutes from the border. Authorities on both sides of the border work together to try to identify this man based on a prayer found in his pocket and the tattoo of the words Dayani Crystal on his chest.

In the traditional style of a documentary which involves numerous interviews with the all U.S. officials who handled the case from the time the body was found to the time it was identified. I can’t tell you what the tattoo represents you will have to watch the movie, but it’s an excellent portrayal of this struggle of both the immigrants and the officials set in the present and touches on the events in the past leading up to his death. 

The Target

Those who will love it would also be fans of the slow paced dramatic documentary style genre and human interest expose.


The Bottom Line

Immigration is a controversial issue to most Americans and especially those states living close to the southern borders of America. A bill was passed to build a massive wall around Texas and neighbouring states to prevent illegal border crossing. When will governments learn that a wall is never the solution, this forced these poor desperate immigrants in to dangerous border crossings resulting in over 2000 deaths per year.

The movie personalises the categorically shameful manner in which governments and people have come to use the term “immigrant” to dehumanise. It turns the spotlight back on an age old problem in an emotional rollercoaster of how many lives have been touched and the long reaching effects of an individual. From the first step of the journey of an actual border crossing to the treatment of the unlucky ones who don’t make it. It is amazing how immigrates have formed what seems like an “underground railroad” to help get people across the borders of America from the time they decide to leave their country, there are buses, safe houses, forex services and pathways created to help on every leg of this dangerous journey where people die even in their own country just trying to get across their borders. Crossing the border has become an industry in these countries with these systems supporting this industry.


It seems to me that America would prefer spending copious amounts of taxpayer money building walls and cremating, transporting and investigating dead immigrants than actually trying to help these people or solve the problem. That makes me furious, however this is only a small piece of the problem, I have been watching documentaries for a while now and this is an issue that ties into bigger problems in America like the lack of free market pricing in which the American farming industry is heavily subsidised which makes it impossible for their counterparts from other countries to make money from farming (Watch the movie Food Inc. for a more detailed understanding). Once again this forces these unskilled labourers to seek jobs in America, and who do you think is driving the blue collar workforce? No one else but illegal immigrants from across the border. So it’s an endless cycle of people dying and no system has been created to help. Yet there are numerous systems established by the USA to keep undocumented immigrants out of the country and none in place or resources spent to make it an easier transition to subsidize there workforce.

However we can’t judge America, the system is flawed and there are a lot of factors contributing to this and we can easily point the finger at South Africans as we are in the same boat with America on the problems and treatment of illegal immigrants from the North who cross over our borders.

The Americans interviewed in this movie seem to have a profound understanding and sympathy for these immigrants and their struggle, they painstakingly put a lot of care into their work and never give up trying to identify these bodies to give the families of these immigrants some closure. I do applaud these government officials for the work they do.