A portrait of migrant farmworkers grappling with the faultlines of the American Dream


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RECOMMENDED - Educational Media Reviews Online | BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE - Brooklyn Film Festival

Latinx Experience • Border Studies • Film Studies • Migrant Workers • Mental Health

Date of Completion: 2016 | Run Time: 78 minutes​​ | Language: Spanish with English subtitles | Captions: No | Director: Rodrigo Reyes | Producers: Su Kim

LUPE UNDER THE SUN is a neorealist film following an aging migrant worker living in California, who longs to return to Mexico before it is too late. Featuring a cast of nonprofessional actors, real farmworkers and authentic locations, LUPE UNDER THE SUN tackles issues of depression, homesickness and the immigrant myth of the American Dream.

Long estranged from his family in Michoacán, migrant laborer Lupe finds relief from the backbreaking work of harvesting peaches in California’s Central Valley through camaraderie and a quiet love affair with fellow immigrant Gloria. Soon the stability of his daily routine begins to crack under the weight of a life scarred with regret and missed opportunities. Filmed in a classic neorealist style, director Rodrigo Reyes’s deeply moving debut fiction feature, inspired by the life of his own grandfather, is at once an intimately drawn meditation on life’s missed chances and a tale of the universal struggles of immigrants. Winner of Film Independent’s Canon Filmmaker Award, Reyes’s unforgettable film heralds the arrival of an important new voice in American cinema.

Francisco Laguna-Correa, PhD, MFA
"The 85-minute film is a realist yet dreamlike exploration of the vicissitudes of an aging undocumented farm worker who rummages his time through a cyclic and tedious series of everyday activities. He begins his day at 4am, when he wakes up and prepares for work at a peach farm where both manual labour and repetition emphasize his alienating human condition. The pace of the film is purposely slow to introduce the audience to the everyday rhythms of the aging undocumented experience, a life that is rendered in the film with minimal dialogue, a device that Rodrigo Reyes deploys in a masterful way to portray the unknown inner life that all humans have the right to posses, even “undocumented human beings” (sic). In the film, speed is framed as a metaphor for social mobility; Lupe works on his feet and rides a tricycle as his means of transportation, in contrast with the very few Anglo people we see in the film, whose jobs and everyday lives are transported on four wheels and consequentially at a faster pace."

Plume Noire
"Paying homage to his grandfather as well as migrant workers, Rodrigo Reyes’ Lupe Under The Sun follows an old Mexican peach picker who, after finding out he’s sick, decides to go back to Mexico to see his estranged family. The movie has a raw, meditative and documentary-like feel, which won’t surprise those who saw Mr. Reyes previous work, the intriguing Purgatorio, which gave a stark, reflective look at the Mexican US border."

Brooklyn Film Festival
"Rodrigo Reyes’s Lupe Under the Sun is a story that transcends boundaries and also marks boundaries between cultural systems. It’s a simple story about Lupe, an aging undocumented Mexican that wants to return home. The film brings us inside of the migrant’s dilemma. We feel with him. Rodrigo’s camera allows us to create a moment with Lupe in which we start to experience our own desire to reach out to him and connect. More than being a poetic story, it’s an invitation to question the times we are living."

Hollywood Reporter
"The beaten-down life of an aging undocumented Mexican migrant slowly falls apart under the bright California sky in Lupe Under the Sun....."

Best Narrative Feature | Brooklyn Film Festival
Grand Chameleon | Brooklyn Film Festival
2017 Fellow | John Simon Guggenheim
Narrative Lab Fellows Independent Filmmaker Project
25 New Faces Independent Film
Special Mention | Los Angeles Film Festival


LA Film Festival
BFI London
Guadalajara International Film Festival
Boston University



Rodrigo Reyes is a 2017 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow and award-winning filmmaker. His presentations for college students focus on the immigrant experience and challenge preconceived notions of the US-Mexico border. He is the grandson of migrant farmworkers from Michoacán, and was raised between Mexico and the United States. His visceral and beautiful films explore the fractures separating these two worlds. His GOOD TALK includes screening one or both of his award-winning documentaries. PURGATORIO is a compelling journey into the heart of the US-Mexico border. A work that challenges audiences to re-evaluate their notions of this conflicted space, the film has toured more than 40 international festivals, winning Jury Awards at the New Orleans Film Festival and San Diego Latino Film Festival, as well as the Michael Moore Award for Best Documentary. His latest work, LUPE UNDER THE SUN, is a neorealist film following an aging migrant worker living in California, who longs to return to Mexico before it is too late. Featuring a cast of nonprofessional actors, real farmworkers and authentic locations, LUPE UNDER THE SUN tackles issues of depression, homesickness and the immigrant myth of the American Dream. Rodrigo was awarded a 2017 John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and has received the support of the Tribeca Film Institute, Sundance Institute, Film Independent, both IFP Filmmaker Narrative and Documentary Labs, California Council for the Humanities, Spotlight on Storytellers Grant, and more. He is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and in 2013 was named one of the ‘25 New Faces of Independent Film’ by Filmmaker Magazine. He has spoken at campuses including University of San Diego, Princeton, California State San Marcos, California State Monterey Bay and Oakland University.