Every now and then a gem of a song comes along that grabs you musically and tugs at your heart strings with its poignant lyrics. For me, La Santa Cecilia’s El Hielo (Ice) was that song. Ever since hearing it, I’ve been curious to see how the stories depicted in the song’s lyrics would translate to a music video format, and wondered whether being signed to a bigger label would impact the artistry the band has become known for. So I was glad to find out that Universal Latino has been very supportive of the band’s creative direction, and provided a budget that allowed them to hire a feature film director who could do the lyrics justice with a video just as moving as the song.
This director is Alex Rivera – a fitting choice given that he directed the futuristic SciFi movie Sleep Dealer, which deals with immigrant issues in an innovative way. The plot of Sleep Dealer has several parallels to the narrative in ‘El Hielo (Ice).’ The film follows three characters as they each attempt to navigate a technologically advanced society that is divided and oppressed; likewise, la Santa Cecilia’s song depicts three different perspectives on the immigrant struggle in the U.S. The video begins with three vignettes of morning rituals before work – a young Latina cooks for her family; an older Latino man and his family watch the news about ongoing ICE raids; and a a younger Latino man spends time with his loved ones. As they each arrive for work, we realize the young woman and older man work at the same restaurant, while the young man is an ICE agent preparing to raid that very same restaurant.
One of the most touching moments is when all three characters are in the kitchen of the restaurant. The two immigrant workers look cornered and defeated. The young Latino ICE agent looks mortified to see their faces and his gulp says it all.
Not until the video ends do we find out that most of the people in it are themselves undocumented, including the man playing the ICE agent, who is actually in deportation proceedings.
These are not actors – they are actually living the struggles depicted in the song, and I don’t think any actors could have conveyed as much feeling. Their performances are phenomenal and knowing their situations only makes them even more powerful.
A gem of song gets a gem of a video and it too tugs at your heart.
Download “El Hielo” below: