CAER (CAUGHT) is a collaborative documentary that was produced in the context of SEXHUM, a research project on migration, sex work and trafficking using collaborative filmmaking as a strategic research method.
The film is the result of the collaboration between Nicola Mai, the principal investigator of the project, and the TRANSgrediendo Intercultural Collective, a grass root association defending the rights of trans Latina migrant women in Queens, New York City.
The method of the film, ethnofiction, is based on the use of fictional methods including stigmatised populations in the production of their own representations.
The story and the roles in the film were written by members of the TRANSgrediendo Intercultural Collective and are played by non-professional actresses, including some of the original co-authors, who were also involved in the editing of the film.
CAER expresses the lives and struggles for recognition and justice of a very stigmatised social group. It shows the two protagonists, Rosa and Paloma as they fight transphobic violence, persecution from the police and defend their cases of trafficking in an increasingly anti-migration political environment in the US. The film also shows trans Latina women fighting for their rights through public demonstrations and by applying for humanitarian protection (T Visa), while expressing their identities in positive ways during a drag show that allows them to counter their marginalization and stigmatisation.
CAER includes several debate scenes during which the film protagonists talk about important issues concerning the trans Latina population in Queens such as police persecution, the difference between sex work and trafficking and the lack of occupational alternatives to sex work.
The fictional story is framed within the feedback screening of the film to the members of the TRANSgrediendo Intercultural Collective who collaborated in its making ahead of the final editing, who discuss their involvement and the story and characters they wrote in relation to their personal and collective experiences.
CAER is first and foremost a tribute to the work and legacy of Lorena Borjas, the mother of Latin trans women living in Queens, who was one of the first victims of COVID-19 in New York and passed away on 30 March 2020.