Documenting the Rebirth of a Bus

Documenting the Rebirth of a Bus

La Camioneta is a feature-length documentary about the “afterlife” of American school buses and the people who make it all possible. After 10 years or 150,000 miles on the road, American school buses are often deemed no longer usable and often end up at one of the country’s many used-bus auctions. From there, a sizable percentage of these buses end up in Guatemala, where their life and their appearance are completely transformed. This is the story of the people who risk it all to bring these buses back to life.

Beginning at a used school bus auction in the States and following the bus and its new owner on their 3,000-mile journey to the highlands of Guatemala, La Camioneta documents the entire process of how a school bus is bought, sold, exported, re-equipped and, ultimately, reborn. Through a combination of vérité footage and in-depth conversations, the film explores the personal, social and economic realities that fuel the trajectory of a school bus’ life.

Once in Guatemala, drivers rent the vehicles by the day and they get to keep whatever proceeds are left after paying for fuel, protection and a meager salary for a fare collector. The faster you go, the more money you make. However, there’s no governmental oversight to make sure that the subsidized buses are safe, that drivers are charging the standard rate, or that they are even operating on their assigned route. To make things worse, local gangs extort protection money, or la renta, from drivers who pass through their territory.

This is a film about consumerism, transmigration, personal expression, family and faith. It’s a story about life, death and rebirth… on the road.

La Camioneta is Mark Kendall’s graduate-level thesis film for the Social Documentary Film MFA program at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

For more information and to watch a trailer for the film, please visit: or


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