the-golden-dream-la-jaula-de-oro-dec-10thThe Golden Dream, also known as The Golden Cage (a popular Mexican ballad) tells the story of three young Guatemalan economic migrants trying to travel via Mexico to the USA. Director Quemada—Diez previously worked as a camera assistant on three Ken Loach productions and is clearly in tune with the English director’s narrative approach. The three youngsters, Juan, Sara and Samuel, are played by previously non-professional actors. “It is a very substantial movie, with great compassion and urgency.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian. (Cert 12)
Dir: Diego Quemada-Diez 108 mins Guatemala/Spa/Mex 2013

Programme Notes

The Golden Dream
(La Jaula de Oro)
Guatemala/Spain/Mexico 2013 108mins Cert 12

Three Guatemalan teenagers set off to get into the USA via the Mexican border. One is a girl who disguises herself as a man, so she knows a thing or two about what to expect. There’s also Chauk, who speaks only Tzotzil (the language of the indigenous Mayan people in Mexico) and knows no Spanish. They face all sorts of menaces and brutalities before they get to the United States.

“It’s taken more than a decade for Diego Quemada-Diez to bring his first feature film to the screen but there were moments when even that prospect looked unlikely. ‘I had a gun put to my head on three or four occasions’ he says, ‘I would be hanging out along these railroads and in pretty difficult neighbourhoods. I almost got kidnapped a few times, too’.” Paul McInnes, The Guardian

Quemada-Díez has previously worked with Ken Loach and it’s easy to see how they would be in sympathy over convincing stories such as this but, as Tim Robey wrote in the Daily Telegraph, “It has that Loachian pedigree of unflinching compassion for other people’s hard experience – but that’s not all it has. Quemada-Díez thinks in images, and his film is too offhandedly credible in its details to feel like a thesis he’s trying to prove – it’s poetry, not prose” (

The film is also known as The Golden Cage, which is a more literal translation of the Spanish title, so you are perhaps entitled to read its British release title as somewhat ironic.

Juan – Brandon López
Chauk – Rodolfo Domínguez
Sara – Karen Martínez
Samuel – Carlos Chajon
Gregorio – Héctor Tahuite
Vitamina – Ricardo Esquerra

Director – Diego Quemada-Díez
Producer – Edher Campos
Screenplay – Diego Quemada-Díez, Lucia Carreras
Cinematography – Maria Secco
Original Music – Leonardo Heiblum, Jacobo Lieberman


” ‘Pity the poor immigrant/Who wished he had stayed here’, Bob Dylan, John Wesley Harding, 1968. Great film, beautiful photography and a story of our time!”

“Disturbing film, showing the plight of migrants everywhere. The best and worst of human nature.”

“A haunting tale – only too real, I suspect. A brave film, not for the faint hearted.”

“Golden Cage was a more appropriate title for the final destination – after all those hardships … and what an ending.”

“Capitalism is finished!”

“The reality is probably even worse.”

“It may have had its moments but then the ending felt surprisingly unrewarding and a disappointment. Not a masterpiece but not a complete train-wreck either.”

“No easy answers”

“A dismal story told in a series of beautiful scenes.”

“Was this made to be shown in Guatemala? An eye opener but not very entertaining.”

“Is the grass always greener on the other side? Maybe a film all potential refugees should see before they set out. Could have been a great film with more co-operation between the director, writers and actors.”

“A lesson to all potential illegal immigrants!”


A:17, B:11, C:4, D:0, E:0 to give 85%