Migration is frequently a multi-generational experience for families; not an individual choice or the particular economic decision of a
single family, but rather a collective practice, repeated again and again by both individuals and communities. The Time of the Fireflies portrays this
interconnected history through the narrative of Miguel and his family, questioning long-held misconceptions about immigration.
protagonists have lived their lives on both sides of the border, and
their stories bear witness to the everyday ties that bind the United
States and Mexico, as well as to the political and economic discords that
keep them apart. At 16, Miguel left Mexico to start a new life in New York City. Years later while opening a package from his mother, he discovers photographs that throw him back to his childhood in rural Mexico — a time when living in the US had been just a dream. Fueling Miguel's ambitions and altruism, these memories are the same ones keeping him trapped in the past. Sharing his tale of resilience and determination, including his harrowing border crossing as a teenager, he relates his longing for who and what he left behind at a turning point in his life.
Growing up, Miguel and his sister were primarily raised by their grandparents in Mexico as both of their parents were working in the US to build a future for their family. With rare phone calls serving as their primary source of contact, their parents were like strangers to them until he was 12. Then just four years later, Miguel left for the US when he was 16 in pursuit of a dream and has not returned since. Far from the prosperous picture painted of life in the US, Miguel finds himself working nearly 80 hour weeks and experiencing profound isolation, while struggling to seek out the education he thought he'd find.
Despite the tribulations and loneliness he experiences in New York City, and the distances that separate him from his home, Miguel remains committed to helping his family while also forging his own way forward. In The Time of the Fireflies, a family attempts to come to terms with their past, their
sacrifices, and the distance that has defined their relationships.
FILMMAKER'S STATEMENT: "As a Mexican national, Matteo has a strong connection to the issues of immigration in the US. He lived for ten years in Zapotitlán Lagunas. Among his classmates, two siblings — Miguel and his sister — struck Matteo as having a particularly moving and meaningful story. Throughout the time Matteo lived in the village, the relationship between Miguel's family and Matteo's family grew stronger. At the same time, a deep friendship emerged between Miguel and Matteo. This allowed us to gain immediate confidence with all the participants in the documentary and enabled a direct, trustful, and intimate dialogue.
We — the directors — met at the very time Miguel was starting his journey to the USA. The wish to tell Miguel's story was present from that stage onwards. As directors, our interdisciplinary qualifications in music (and sound design) and cinematography have enabled us to merge the musical/sonic and visual approach at every step of the filmmaking process.
As the migration crisis deepened and the subject became more recurrent in American politics with a strong partisan discourse, we felt that people like Miguel and his family were being deprived of their human qualities by hate speech and targeted policies. This is when the intention to create a documentary that would rehumanize the Mexican migrant community in the USA, became more urgent. By bringing into the open the individual, real-time experiences of Miguel and his family, we wanted to participate in bridging the gap of understanding that divides and separates social classes and reinforces cultural dichotomies. Through the juxtaposition of Miguel and his parents' testimonies, this documentary acts as a cinematic reunification, where members of a family who haven't seen each other in 13 years, are reunited on-screen. We provided a platform for this family to tell their stories, to let their words confront the common paradigm of migration within and outside the United States. By prioritizing the characters being interviewed and by brining their gaze closer to the lens, we intend to place the spectator face to face with the characters of the film, allowing them to feel the intimacy and complicity that the team experienced during the shooting."