Berlin film 'Soy Nero' looks at U.S. 'Green Card' soldiers

Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:57am EST
 
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By Michael Roddy

BERLIN (Reuters) - Foreign-born "Green Card" soldiers have been serving in the U.S. military since the Vietnam War, but the plight of deported veterans has not been explored on film until "Soy Nero" (I Am Nero), director Rafi Pitts said.

The program provides a path to full citizenship for people holding "Green Card" residency permits who enlist in the military.

But Pitts's movie, which was shown on Tuesday as it competes for the Berlin film festival's main Golden Bear prize, says that although the program works for many, some 3,000 foreign-born veterans were deported for one reason or another.

This gives rise to an almost surreal scene in the movie showing the graveside funeral for a soldier who died in service in the U.S. military being buried across the border in Mexico.

"When I came across the reality of the Green Card soldier, as a filmmaker you can't not tell the story," Pitts, who is of mixed Iranian-British heritage, told a post-screening news conference.

"War is hard enough on young men but to then be rejected by the country you have been fighting for is probably the worst thing that can happen to any human being," Pitts said.

"Yet nobody talks about it – I don’t understand what people have been doing over the past 30 years – why doesn’t anybody talk about it?"

In the film Johnny Ortiz, of TV's "American Crime", plays Nero, a young man of Mexican heritage who grew up in southern California but was deported as an illegal immigrant.   Continued...

 
Director Rafi Pitts poses during a photocall to promote the movie 'Soy Nero' at the 66th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin, Germany, February 16, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke