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El Norte Details


El Norte is a realistic picture of both the Guatemalan government's oppression of the Quiche Indians and the hard life of illegal immigrants in the United States. After the Guatemalan army destroys their village of San Pedro, two teenage Quiche Mayan Indian siblings journey north (hence El Norte) through Mexico to the United States to start a new life. The film opens with the destruction of the village and the peasants' pointless appeals to the authorities for justice. Realizing that the government is seizing their land, Enrique and Rosa make the difficult decision to leave their people behind. As they journey through Mexico, the siblings encounter a number of helpful individuals who direct them towards the U.S./Mexican border. There they find a "coyote" (a professional human smuggler) and make the frightening run across border. Once across, Enrique and Rosa are introduced to the impossible realities of life as an illegal immigrant in Los Angeles. Living in constant fear of deportation, they struggle to survive as they are exploited by a series of employers. Eventually, their luck takes a turn for the better when the manager of their motel offers Enrique a job. ~ Brian Whitener, Rovi

  • Release date:January 1, 1983


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Anna Thomas Best Original Screenplay 1984 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Gregory Nava Best Original Screenplay 1984 Nominee


Zaide Silvia Gutierrez
as Rosa Xuncax
David Villalpando
as Enrique Xuncax
Ernesto Gómez Cruz
as Arturo Xuncax
Alicia del Lago
as Lupe Xuncax
Eraclio Zepeda
as Pedro
Stella Quan
as Josefita
Emilio del Haro
as Truck Driver
Rodrigo Puebla
as Puma
Trinidad Silva
as Monty
Abel Franco
as Raimundo
Mike Gomez
as Jaime
Lupe Ontiveros
as Nacha
Larry Cedar
as Bruce
Sheryl Bernstein
as Karen
Tony Plana
as Carlos
Diane Civita
as Alice
Enrique J. Castillo
as Jorge
Ronald G. Joseph
as Joel
Enrique J. Castillo
as Jorge


Gregory Nava
Anna Thomas
Anna Thomas
Anna Thomas
Book Author
Gregory Nava
James Glennon
Gustav Mahler
Featured Music
Samuel Barber
Featured Music
Giuseppe Verdi
Featured Music
Betsy Blankett
David Wasco
Set Designer