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Filmmaker shows Magic Valley how skiing became a safe space for Latino children

Posted at 1:33 PM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 17:34:11-04

MAGIC VALLEY — For Hispanic and Latino children living in ski towns, skiing is their way of forgetting about the harsh reality of their parents possibly being deported.

Filmmaker Hillary Byrne decided to shine a light on these kids, but in doing so she faced some criticism.

“I think one of the biggest struggles for Sophie and me was who are we to tell this story? We’re two white girls who have lived a pretty decent life and don’t face any of these struggles and never will,” Byrne said.

But no one else was telling these stories, so she decided to take it upon herself to give these children a platform and start a conversation about immigration reform.

Now two years after the making of that film, Byrne was able to share it with the Magic Valley with help from the Community Library in Ketchum.

“The ultimate goal was to start a conversation and create a space for that conversation and hopefully create a ripple effect with that and the fact that I’m here two and a half years later doing that right now feels like it might have worked a little bit," Byrne said.

The film follows Latino families living in Mammoth, Vail, and Jackson ski towns where the Hispanic community makes up more than 30% of the population. For those families skiing became a safe space where they felt like they belonged.

But the film also touches on how inaccessible these activities are for undocumented families, mainly due to the cost to be able to do this sport. Some Hailey City Council members said Sun Valley is no different.

“The sad thing about it is there is a lot of students, parents, families that would like to go together but they can’t because they can either afford one ticket or no ticket at all,” Becky Lopez, Incoming Executive Director of The Alliance of Idaho, said.

They hope bringing this conversation to the Magic Valley will make outdoor activities more accessible to Latino families in the area.

“There’s a lot of work to be done just from the standpoint of getting people involved. You hardly see any Hispanic men volunteering, I know everyone’s gotta work and certainly, I’m working my but off too, but trying to engage that group would be huge,” Juan Martinez, Hailey City Council Member, said.

The film also shined a light on the economic impact the Hispanic and Latino community has on ski towns. Some business owners they interviewed said their restaurants or stores wouldn't be able to run without them since no one else was applying for the jobs.

“Our goal was simply to give voice to something that we felt didn’t have a voice at the time," Byrne said.