Migrant Moviestar: Gael García Bernal @ the GFMD

Not many people can transform seasoned migrant activists into a state reminiscent of excited teenagers. Gael García Bernal can. The star of “Amores Perros”, “Sin Nombre” and “Motorcycle Diaries”, where he played a young Che Guevara, paid a visit to the GFMD on the second day of the Civil Society Days. His mission:

To promote “The Invisibles”,  a series of short films he produced in collaboration with Amnesty International. Two of the films were also screened at the GFMD and all 4 of them can be seen here:



The films take different angles to look at the fates of the thousands of migrants that are kidnapped, murdered and raped every year in Mexico, yet they stay “invisible”. Mexico is also a country of transit to the USA for migrants from Guatemala and other countries in the region.

Apart from the video presentation, Bernal also participated in a session of the “CSD Common Space”. Not to be confused with the common space with the governments that took place the following day, these sessions presented very specific projects to assist migrants or to benefit from their knowledge (i.e. “Competency Networks Germany-Morocco”).

The session Bernal attended was one of the highlights of the GFMD: It presented the work of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Immigrants in Chiapas, Mexico.

You can find a paper with background on this laudable new institution at:


What struck me in the discussion was the openness and the critical stance most participants took towards the federal government – some said, the speech the President of Mexico, Felice Calderón Hinojosa had held earlier the same day painted the picture of a “fairytale land”. (more on the speech in a later blog)

A lot can be criticised about the GFMD, but adding a session on such a controversial topic dealing also with domestic issues is something that would have been unimaginable, say, in Manila two years ago.

Bernal was not the first filmmaker to visit the GFMD – Costa-Gavras chaired the civil society days last year in Athens – but his visit was definitely a welcome addition to the program.


About Dr. Stefan Rother

Senior Lecturer and Researcher at the Arnold-Bergstraesser-Institute at the University of Freiburg -- Freelance journalist -- You can find my CV at the links below:
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