“We live locked in a golden cage. The cage is made of gold and there is a lot of abundance in this country, but it’s a cage. One is limited. One is locked up.”These words come from the documentary “Vidas in the Golden Cage,” which senior film production major Sarah Lopez Ramirez developed for Maple Scholars this past summer.
“My project is about highlighting the stories of Latino immigrants in Goshen and their experiences with a term many Latinos use called ‘the Golden Cage,’” Lopez Ramirez said. “That term describes the feeling of being in a place that offers a lot of opportunities and gateways to follow your dreams, but at the same time you feel stuck for various reasons — whether that be you can’t go back to your country or there are certain opportunities that you can’t [be a part of].”
She began the documentary in May and worked on it until the end of August, noting the help of Joshua Garcia, Aliah Campbell and Ryan Carrillo.
Kyle Hufford, associate professor of communication, served as the adviser for her Maple Scholars project, which is a role he is accustomed to. “I’ve pretty much done one every year, and it gives us a nice opportunity to focus and concentrate on one project over the summer,” he said.
“We’ve had a wide, diverse group of projects over the years,” he continued. “This topic was Sarah’s. She came up with it even before I had a chance to give her some suggestions.”
Lopez Ramirez says her initial inspiration came from an assignment in her Latino Community Histories class. “[I wanted to create] a tiny documentary … about Latino businesses in Goshen and Elkhart County,” she said. “From there I wanted to expand on it.”
In addition to the documentary, Lopez Ramirez also worked on creating a mural that would represent some of the concepts present in the film.
“I also have an art minor, [so] there’s an artsy side to me and I wanted to incorporate that into the documentary,” she said. “I brainstormed with Kyle, and we came up with the idea of a mural that progressively showed [the story] so it goes around clockwise, and then in the middle is the Golden Cage.”
From there, Lopez Ramirez considered how to integrate the mural into the community. “That’s when we came up with the paint-by-number idea,” she said. “I designed the painting and digitally painted it and based on that we copied it to a large piece of wood and me and my friend Aliah traced it and put the numbers based on all the colors I had designed in the digital drawing.”
The mural was completed by community members on Aug. 4 as a part of First Fridays.
“After the community painted it, there needed to be some fixes because there’s little kids that go in,” she said, “So we spent some time fixing it and then I took it to my house to completely polish it.”
While the mural has been completed, the documentary has yet to receive its finishing touches. Lopez Ramirez is away from campus for a semester in Los Angeles as part of a program Goshen College provides in partnership with Columbia College in Chicago.
“It’ll be done by the time we come back for spring semester,” she said. “We’re hoping to premiere it either by January or February.”
The trailer for “Vidas in the Golden Cage” is available here.