I made this film to give children a chance to speak about their own personal experiences growing up in the midst of war and violence. They happen to be from Central America, yet their experiences are similar to those of millions of other children worldwide living in countries in conflict or neighborhoods tense with violence.
Through this film, I want to present the situation of children in a part of the world where the US has exerted great influence and to help US audiences be aware of that historical connection. I hope young people will feel a personal connection as well with the characters in the film, especially if they are Latino themselves or if they have fellow students, friends, neighbors or relatives who came from Central America.
I wish for children in Central America, watching this film, to hear from their peers about their countries’ recent history. Many young people today, especially those coming from families not directly affected by violence, know little about these kinds of experiences. “If the Mango Tree Could Speak” was never intended to be a factual history of the conflicts, instead it's the stories of how children who were living it saw themselves and their surroundings.
It’s not easy to watch other people’s pain; understandably, it makes those of us spared such pain uncomfortable. But I hope by acknowledging the pain and sharing it we will find the strength to confront it, by working for social change so that future generations will not be forced to yield their childhoods to violence and war. My wish is that this film can inspire all young people to become more tolerant of others, more concerned about world events and more engaged in finding ways they can make a difference in their schools, their communities, and the world.