Serving the master text: rethinking digital paratexts in the social issue film Who is Dayani Cristal?

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We are in an age of multiple digital platforms where our entertainment, news, work, social life and social activism are conducted through our smart phones, tablets, laptops or desktop computers, or most probably a range of these simultaneously. This has significant consequences for our understanding of the primacy of certain texts over others, and leads to a dismantling of hierarchies relating to films and their paratexts. In this article I focus on a specific social issue – migration from Central America and Mexico to the United States – and the texts that engage with this issue. The main case study is the activist project behind the film Who is Dayani Cristal? (Marc Silver, 2013), and I argue that the film and project are a salient example of an emerging new paradigm for the human rights documentary. In addition to the usual paratextual components of interviews with the filmmakers, focus on the star body (in this case that of Gael García Bernal), promotional material, and DVD extras, this is a film that broadens the scope of additional material to contain extra-textual activist, educational and community work, to the point that it destabilises the distinctions between core and surrounding texts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-265
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 12 Jun 2018


  • Human rights film
  • Central American and Mexican migration film


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