Al otro lado (2004) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Three separate stories of children from different places seeking to find their missing fathers.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • This drama follows the stories of three children who have a longing to find their absent fathers. One story takes place in Mexico where a boy's father has gone to the United States to look for work. The second is of a girl in Morocco whose father went to Spain and hasn't returned. The third is about a boy in Cuba who believes his dad emigrated to the United States. The children share a common longing for their fathers, who they either miss or have never known.

    Priciliano is an 8 year old boy in Mexico whose father leaves to go to "the other side" for work. He takes it pretty hard as he and his dad were close, and his 9th birthday is coming up. Struggling to understand and be able to carry on like normal, as his mom does, he decides that he wants to try and go after him. His drunk uncle tells him about all those who have tried to cross into the US and how some succeeded and some did not. Priciliano decides that he can do it and convinces a friend to go with him. The two boys believe that the land across a small lagoon is "the other side" and attempt to cross it in a little boat, which takes on water. Priciliano nearly drowns but is saved by a ghostly woman - the same woman who killed herself in that lake after being held captive according to a fairy tale his dad told him at the beginning of the movie. He then has a heart to heart with his uncle who explains the economic situation a little better, which makes Angel a little more accepting of his father's need to go to the US to work.

    A young girl in Morocco named Fatima decides she wants to find her father, who had gone to Spain two years earlier. She leaves in the early morning hours while her mother sleeps. She quickly meets a man who tells her he has a friend going to Spain by boat, and that there is sure to be room for her to come along. Excited, she goes with the man. She is kept with a group of about a dozen other girls, mostly teenagers a little older than her. They do travel to Spain where the girls are sold to a women into what appears to be sex slavery. The woman refuses to take Fatima as she is too young, roughly 10, but takes the others and leaves. The woman later comes back for her, fearing that the men may sell her to someone else. Though the woman in clearly involved in trafficking girls, Fatima's youth seems to tug at her conscience. She takes Fatima and helps her find her father who is living with his girlfriend, who does not appear happy about the situation. Fatima's father takes her back to Morocco where she belongs, but the ending does not show the reunion with her mother and whether or not her father stays with them or goes back to Spain.

    The third story is about a young boy in Cuba named Angel who lives in poverty with his mother and grandfather. His mother is a prostitute and Angel calls her out in front of his grandfather, who he seems to be close with. Angel spends most of his time with his best friend Walter. They discuss going to America to find Angel's dad who he believes lives there now. One day the two boys, around 10 years old, get an inner tube and decide to paddle to Florida to find him. Naively, Walter tells Angel that they have to hurry because he is supposed to get the bread for dinner and doesn't want to be late. Not far into their journey they are flipped over and Walter drowns. Angel returns but says nothing. Walter's family is worried, and though Angel seems scared he still doesn't say anything. They eventually find Walter's body and tell his parents, who are devastated. Angel later tells his mom that they were trying to find his father when Walter drowned, and his mom then tells him that his father doesn't even know he exists. She never told him she was having a baby and only told Angel that his dad was in the US to protect him from the truth.

    The three vignettes are intertwined throughout the film and are told from the perspective of each child, respectively. This film exposes the powerful effect that immigration and absent parents has on the children and families that have been left behind while they journey to "the other side."

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