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"Who is Dayani Cristal?": Film Screening & Discussion

Wednesday, March 27, 2019 at 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm

Starr Foundation Hall, Room UL102, University Center 63 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10003

This screening is part of the Spring Performance in Motion Film Series. 

The film follows the search for the identity of a Latin American migrant who died in the Arizona desert, and whose  only identifying mark is a tattoo that reads “Dayani Cristal.” The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Zolberg Institute fellows working on U.S.-Mexico migration, Mónica Salmón Gómez, a graduate fellow in sociology, and Natasha Iskander, a faculty fellow and visiting professor from the NYU Wagner School of Public Service. 

Synopsis of Who is Dayani Cristal?

Following a team of dedicated staff from the Pima County Morgue in Arizona, director Marc Silver seeks to answer these questions and give this anonymous man an identity. As the forensic investigation unfolds, Mexican actor and activist Gael Garcia Bernal retraces this man’s steps along the migrant trail in Central America. In an effort to understand what it must have felt like to make this final journey, he embeds himself among migrant travelers on their own mission to cross the border. He experiences first-hand the dangers they face and learns of their motivations, hopes, and fears. As we travel north, these voices from the other side of the border wall give us a rare insight into the human stories which are so often ignored in the immigration debate.

Who Is Dayani Cristal? tells the story of a migrant who found himself in the deadly stretch of desert known as “the corridor of death” and shows how one life becomes testimony to the tragic results of the U.S. war on immigration. As the real-life drama unfolds we see this John Doe, denied an identity at his point of death, become a living and breathing human being with an important life story.

Winner of the Sundance 2013 Cinematography award and nominated in the World Documentary Competition, “Who is Dayani Cristal?” has been described by The Hollywood Reporter as “A deeply moving doc [which] finds a new way of making the immigration debate personal.”

Presented by Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility 

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