Romantico

Kino International. 80 minutes. Billed as an “immigrant tale in reverse,” this beautifully filmed documentary follows a 57-year-old Mexican troubadour from his adopted home in San Francisco back to his hometown in Guanajuato.

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


Billed as an “immigrant tale in reverse,” this beautifully filmed documentary follows a 57-year-old Mexican troubadour from his adopted home in San Francisco back to his hometown in Guanajuato.

Carmelo Muñiz Sánchez came north in 1998, crossing the Rio Grande to support his family, even though that meant leaving them. The film opens in San Francisco’s traditionally Hispanic—now hipster—Mission District, where Sánchez and his fellow musicians go restaurant to restaurant performing for gringos. We then travel with him back to the town of Salvatierra, where his wife and daughters have been living for years on his remitted income and his diabetic mother is dying. Sánchez’s reunion with his loved ones—his ailing mother without legs and his daughters desperate for him to stay for good—captures not only the pain of cultural and familial reassimilation but also the complexities of love, particularly once Sánchez begins to consider returning to the States for more money.

Absurdly, Romántico has been criticized for being too bleak, as if to suggest that, like taqueria patrons seeking uncomplicated cultural “flavor,” we want to hear only the bouncy serenades and not the tragic songs, too. When Sánchez tries to get a visa to go back to California, and we see him being ignored by an indifferent middleman, it’s a profoundly sad moment in a film that is precisely as heart-wrenching as its subject requires.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest