Updated: May 16, 2022
Directed by: #RogerEdwardsJr.
Written by: #RogerEdwardsJr.
A recently adopted teenager is treated to a an insightful tale from her mother, about a time when she helped an adventurous Bolivian migrant girl return home.
LUCHA and the EKEKO (2022) is an award winning American short animation, written and directed by Roger Edwards Jr., which raises awareness for immigration justice and examines the devastating results of the Zero-Tolerance immigration policy on families.
This enlightening short opens with shy middle-schooler, Marisol (Simeon), searching for items to sell at her school’s upcoming fund-raiser. When she stumbles upon a peculiar doll, a lucky Ekeko, her adoptive mother, Elena (Vidal), recognises the gift she received a year ago from an undocumented migrant, Lucha (Beatriz). This pleasant discovery prompts Elena to recount the colourful story of how she helped Lucha reunite with her mother in Bolivia, which, in turn, opened up Elena’s heart to eventually receive Marisol for adoption.
The film presents a simplistic, clean style of animation to tell its straightforward story, resulting in a nice appeal for both adults and children. It is not clear whether Roger Edwards Jr. intended to include young people in his target audience, however, the character animation is easy to identify with and there are some fun adventurous montages and snappy editing which will likely keep children engaged. The main purpose of the short certainly sways more towards advocacy and educating viewers than entertaining, by exploring the tragic reality of many parents and children being separated as a result of the Zero-Tolerance Policy of 2018, leading to psychological and emotional trauma for thousands of families, many of which have still not been reunited.
An original score by Carl Taylor does a fantastic job at conveying the adventurous tone of the narrative, as well as effectively remaining poignant during more serious, dramatic moments. Whilst trekking across the country to reunite Lucha with her mother, the tone remains optimistic and playful, however, when Lucha expresses her individuality to Elena in a memorable moment where she wants to appear as a little girl just needing her mother and not some immigrant statistic, the score becomes tender. The themes of motherhood add much heart to the short, so that it does not only raise awareness of socio-political issues, but also positively enforces foster care and and adoption, resulting in a touching viewing experience.
At times, the film does feel a little exposition heavy regarding the story Elena tells her daughter. Running at only eight minutes, the short does have to cram a lot of information in so it can result in a slight disconnect at points, especially in light of the very simplistic animation style. Marina Vidal and Camila Beatriz both deliver praiseworthy voice work for each of their respective roles, however, Allison Simeon as Marisol is a little less convincing, with rather bland and lifeless delivery for most of her lines.
All in all, these are only small issues which do not distract too much from the admirable qualities the film does have to offer with its honest intentions to celebrate motherhood and support unfairly disgraced immigrants.
LUCHA and the EKEKO (2022) trailer: