Pablo arrived in the Scenic City from Guatemala by way of Raleigh, N.C., not quite a decade ago. His story is a fascinating one, and although he is happy to share his story with those who ask, it is the story of others that he would rather tell. Pablo is a gentle soul who wears many hats. He is a son, a husband, a father, a coworker, a mental health advocate, a friend, a board member, an adolescent intervention specialist with the Family Justice Center Office of Community Health, an immigrant and a documentary filmmaker. Filled with an energizing passion for documentary film work, Pablo’s talent and creativity allow him to bring attention to those who are often marginalized by sharing their stories in a thoughtful and meaningful way. For him, telling stories is a way to highlight differences and commonalities among different groups of people, hopefully sparking an empathy that causes any preconceived notions, prejudices or stereotypes each may have for the other to fall by the wayside. Through his films, Pablo is helping to bridge the gap across the proverbial cultural divide.
His most recent film is “Un Nuevo Pasado,” which translates as “A New Past” and titled “Someday Soon” for the English film version. Pablo explains that the idea for this film came about from his being asked consistently, “Why are so many of Guatemala’s youth migrating to America on their own?” Curiously enough and despite immigrating to America from Guatemala when he was a child with his father, Pablo relates that he did not know the answer to that often asked question of him. Needless to say, the documentary filmmaker in him went and found the answer. He did so by starting with his immigration past, returning to the border to revisit his journey to America before attempting to share another immigrant’s story on film.
“Un Nuevo Pasado/Someday Soon” dives deeply into the motivation behind the increasing number of young Guatemalans coming to America and how they get here. For the majority of those migrating, it is a long harrowing journey through the woods filled with fear: fear of being caught by authorities; fear of being kidnapped; and fear of dying. It is a raw and honest look at the tenacity of these children who risk it all for one simple reason: a longing to be with their parents, in particular their mamas, who are already living and working in America. “Un Nuevo Pasado/Someday Soon” starts with Pablo’s return to the border, capturing his reaction as memories and emotions returned to him and culminates with the stories of three young Guatemalan immigrants living in Chattanooga.
What started as a film to answer an honest question, now has the potential to foster a genuine connection between Chattanooga’s Guatemalan immigrant community and locals through shared human experiences. Be among those who are interested in learning more about Chattanooga’s Guatemalan immigrant community and join Pablo and his film crew at Reflection Riding on the evening of September 15th for a truly immersive experience of Latin music, food and entertainment at the screening of “Un Nuevo Pasado/Someday Soon.”
Reflection Riding is the perfect backdrop in which to host a movie screening featuring Guatemalans as Guatemala literally means “land of many trees.” Of which the same could be said of Reflection Riding, which is home to lots and lots of trees. It is a Level 4 arboretum, after all, the highest level arboretum in all of Tennessee. Reflection Riding is proud to partner with Pablo to showcase this film for several reasons. When immigrants come to America, they often find housing in urban areas devoid of any greenspace, and although they are offered many resources to help assimilate into society, access and exposure to nature is never on that list. Simply put: Guatemalan immigrants miss their trees and greenery. On the flip side of Guatemalans’ love of nature, sadly, there is also a darker side to the relationship. Immigrants journey through the woods to get here. They are always among the trees: walking and hiding, walking and hiding, a process which can make being in nature somewhat traumatic. Recognizing Guatemalan immigrants miss nature, yet may also have experienced trauma among the trees, Reflection Riding seeks to provide opportunities for the immigrant community to reconnect with nature in a healthy, therapeutic way. Hosting multi-cultural events is one way Reflection Riding hopes to see an increased diversification of their visitor population, returning time and time again to enjoy one of Chattannoga’s best outdoor playgrounds.
Mark your calendars, now to see “Un Nuevo Pasado/Someday Soon.”
To learn more about “Un Nuevo Pasado/Someday Soon” and Pablo’s other projects, visit resilientstory.org.
by JD Harper
JD Harper is a local author. GLINT, her debut novel, is set in Chattanooga amid its rich Civil War history and rock climbing culture. You can email her at email@example.com.