There is a force of healing in nature and a power of connection — connection with ourselves, our hopes and dreams, and with the mystery and grandeur of life on our planet. For Nadia Iris Mercado, there is also in nature a connection with her ancestry. And, the connection she makes most strongly, and most tenderly, is with her mother — who sacrificed her own hopes and dreams to give Nadia the best possible chance to realize hers.
In 2013, the Dominican Republic’s constitutional court stripped citizenship from persons of Haitian descent. The impact is directly felt by Pikilina, who survives as a sex worker yet dreams of a better life for her children as she faces a virtually impossible challenge of obtaining documentation. The title of Mountainfilm Festival Director Suzan Beraza’s new film refers to the killing of as many as 20,000 Haitians on the Haitian/Dominican border in 1937, a little-remembered act of genocide, just as today’s ongoing ethnic cleansing in the Dominican Republic is scarcely noted in a world where there is a seemingly unending supply of stateless refugees. Chillingly, the earlier massacre is revealed to be a prelude to an event that unfolds before our eyes — and not only on the island of Hispaniola. In telling Pikilina’s story, Beraza simultaneously captures the human toll and recognizes the scale of the global humanitarian crisis.