Antonio Gutierrez was one of the 300,000 soldiers the U.S. military sent to
war in Iraq in March 2003. A few hours after the war began, his picture was
broadcast all over the world: he was the first American soldier to be killed
in this war. He was a so-called green-card soldier – one of approximately
32.000 non-U.S. citizens fighting in the ranks of the U.S. military.
The film tells the moving and nearly unbelievable story of a one-time street
kid from Guatemala, who headed north along the Pan-American Highway –
full of hopes and desires for a better future – ultimately to die an
American hero far from home.
Searching for the images and stories that made up this life, we set out to
retrace José Antonio’s path – from Guatemala through Mexico
to the United States.
This story is told by the people who accompanied José Antonio on his
path: his friends from the street, the social workers at the orphanage, his
sister, his foster family, his comrades at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
But the narrators of the film are also the people we encountered as we were
repeating José Antonio’s odyssey from the world of the poor to
the world of the rich. People who day after day join the endless stream of
emigrants – with no identity, no papers – equipped with nothing
but their ability to work hard and their willingness to turn their backs on
their home and family forever.
José Antonio’s story is no adventurer’s tale. It is the
story of an attempt to survive – on both sides of the world.