TIFF 2018: Icebox – Timely in Current Environment

Icebox. Courtesy of TIFF.

Set at a child detention center for the large majority of the film, Icebox is a film that should really hit a nerve with audiences.

With the gang violence surrounding his native Honduras, 12-year-old Oscar (Anthony Gonzalez) soon leaves for the US with the main goal of finding his uncle.  This is easier said than done when the pre-teen is caught by a few U.S Border Patrol agents.  After they ask Oscar a series of questions and inform him of a pending trial, they lock him up in what’s described as a processing center for migrant children.  If we’re really being honest, let’s call it what it really is: a child detention center.  After all, these children are locked up in cages.  The facility itself is referred to as “the icebox” because of its temperatures.  Can you imagine sleeping underneath aluminum foil?  Start thinking about it because that’s exactly how the children are sleeping!

It’s while Oscar is detained when he comes across a journalist, Perla (Genesis Rodriguez) willing to help him.  All Oscar wants to do is find his uncle but no phone calls are going through.  Most of this is because his uncle, Manuel (Omar Leyva) is afraid to lose his green card.  Anyway, Perla doesn’t have to go out of her way but she does.

Writer-director Daniel Sawka tells a really good story here.  He bases the film on his short film.  The feature adaption is doubtful to happen without the great James L. Brooks.  Brooks saw the short film and the rest is history.  All of this said, it’s frightening at just how real the film feels at the moment.  It really puts eyes on the faces of innocent children.  All they want to do is be with their families but the US government would rather throw away the key.

The fact that the film’s end titles are likely to change again following the world premiere is frightening.  This very well may be the only film playing Toronto to have the end titles say “during post-production alone.”  This is because the child detention centers are such a hot topic issue.  It’s one thing to read things in the paper but to see actually see these depictions on film is a whole other animal.  I personally could not help but feel angry at what I saw.  These are children for crying out loud!

The following three things took place during said post-production:

  • Attorney General let it be known that any migrants fleeing from domestic or gang violence would no longer be eligible for asylum in the United States.
  • The Trump Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy means that some three-thousand children were forced to be separated from their families
  • While parents have been deported from the US, their children are still being housed in the child detention centers.

If Icebox doesn’t leave you feeling angry about our sorry immigration system, I honestly don’t know what to tell you.

CAST:  Anthony Gonzalez, Genesis Rodriguez, Omar Leyva, Johnny Ortiz, Matthew Moreno, Jessica Juarez

Icebox held its world premiere during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival in the Discovery program.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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