16 year old runaway Juan Carlos returns home to forgive his father for the past.

"Nicole Opper’s film Visitors Day quietly, yet dramatically, tells the story of Juan Carlos (and his peers) who have been separated from his birth family and lives, studies, works and heals at a boarding school and psychological care facility in Puebla, Mexico. With tenderness, intimacy, and patience, Opper’s camera brings us into the rooms where the boys are taught techniques in self-love and self-respect. In these scenes, Visitor’s Day becomes an essential tool for psychologists and social workers caring for younger populations displaced from guardians who may also be survivors of abuse and neglect. Further, as a documentary situated in the successful IPODERAC Center, Visitors Day presents a case-study in sustainable social service work. This makes Visitors Day an ideal tool for Sociology and Cultural Studies classrooms where students consider social change and social justice initiatives." -Giovanna Chesler, Director of the Film and Video Studies Program, George Mason University

Giovanna Chesler, Director of the Film and Video Studies Program, George Mason University
Synopsis: 

Sixteen year old Juan Carlos ran away from an abusive home and lived on the streets of Mexico City for years before finding his way to IPODERAC, a unique group home and social enterprise located in Puebla, MX. IPODERAC is defined by a strong sense of brotherhood and sustained by the sale of artisanal goat cheese.

Visitor’s Day is an observational documentary that follows Juan Carlos throughout the most transformative year of his life, as he finds the strength to return to Mexico City to overcome his sense of abandonment and forgive his father for the past. Along the way we watch other boys overcome their own obstacles with the support of the extraordinary staff at IPODERAC.

Reviews

Just outside Mexico City lies a half-century-old residential treatment center for boys who have been abandoned, abused, and/or have a history of pre-criminal behavior. Visitor’s Day is a moving, often intimate documentary about this place—which carries the acronym of IPODERAC—that seems to offer a self-sufficient model in caring for some of society’s young castoffs. The boys here receive quality counseling, get a solid education, and tend to a goat farm that yields artisanal cheeses—sales of which comprise 75% of the institution’s budget. Filmmaker Nicole Opper spends a year at IPODERAC, following the experiences of several boys of different ages as they reap the benefits of the comprehensive program while continuing to deal with the emotional fallout of being neglected by remote family members. Opper particularly focuses on a young teen named Juan Carlos, a bright and serious boy whose ache for a distant father’s attention is as intense as his commitment to succeed in school and life. Efforts to bring Juan and his dysfunctional dad together even for a heartbreaking moment here come across as deeply poignant. An interesting profile of an impressive program for troubled youth, this is recommended. Aud: C, P. (T. Keogh) 

Video Librarian
Director's Commentary: 

I first encountered the IPODERAC boys as an eighteen year old volunteer, and I was deeply moved by my experience there. The boys at IPODERAC come from all over the country. Most ran away to escape abuse and lived on the streets for months or years before they get here. Many of them have never been able to trust an adult before IPODERAC, but they quickly learn to become accountable to one another and to their adopted home. Eleven years after volunteering as a teenager, I unearthed the journal I kept during my time there. In it, I had vowed to come back and make a documentary about this place. I returned to IPODERAC to fulfill this promise.