Immigration is a hot topic in the current climate, especially in Donald Trump's United States of America.

However, it is hard to imagine the journey some people must have had to undertake in order to reach the Land Of Opportunity. Behind all the rhetoric, statistics and hot air, we forget these are real people and not simply numbers.

Amy Bench’s short, A Line Birds Cannot See, cuts beyond all that to give us the story of E.L., a girl who displayed miraculous courage to even be in a position to tell us her story. Now a grown woman who does not wish to be identified she is, even now, simply looking for a place to call home.

Born into an abusive home in Guatemala, E.L leaves with her mother only to be separated by smugglers at the Mexican border. The determined 12-year old sets out across the desert with only a plastic sack for protection from the cold yet manages to survive starvation on the streets of Mexican city Ciudad Juarez and escapes paedophile kidnappers to find her mother.

The only thing we know of E.L. is her voice, which often breaks with emotion when discussing her journey and her mother in particular. To complement this Director Bench, with animators Steve West and Thomas Kilburn, uses a stunning palette of colours to give her story justice.

Rosy reds brush up against thoughtful blues to give a true array of visual delight. The animation is simplistic enough, but that is the point. This is E.L’s story and the graphics should only enhance her words, not overtake them.

A Line Birds Cannot See

A Line Birds Cannot See

Bench trained as a cinematographer, which is felt here. Every frame feels like a labour of love, crafted with elegance and obvious skill. The film premiered at SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas, that state in which our protagonist is ultimately rescued and it would be interesting to have been a fly on the wall in that audience.

What would the crowd who saw it have felt? Pride? Shame? Who knows. Many often go through extreme hardship to reach America, something often neglected in the MAGA era. A complex issue such as immigration cannot be solved through one 9 minute film, but Bench is challenging us to think more deeply so, in that regard, she has succeeded.

The only detraction is that we are left wanting to hear more from this remarkable woman and put a story to a face. Obviously, this is against her wishes and we can only respect that. However, the viewer is left wanting for more than it’s run time can justify. The story rockets along at such a pace that it is near impossible not to feel disorientated.

This mini-documentary is ripe for feature-length treatment; a snapshot of why migration should be treated empathetically, not statistically. E.L has laid bare her story so we can confront our own faults, with Bench telling it wonderfully.

Verdict:★★★★☆