Set in the Rio Grande Valley, ‘Swamp Lion’ explores the perils of American health care

The new film is getting its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival.

By Laura Rice & Sara HutchinsonOctober 18, 2021 2:33 pm, , ,

Danish filmmaker Torben Bech’s new film “Swamp Lion” is having its world premiere at the Austin Film Festival this week. Set in South Texas, the film tells the story of parents pushed to desperate measures in order to pay for their child’s medical bills. The film was inspired in part by Bech’s experience living in the United States and navigating the American health care system. Bech chose to set the film in Texas after Rio Grande Valley native Michael Escamilla, who stars in the film, told Bech the film felt like a “border story.”

Courtesy Swamp Lion

“In Denmark, health care and school is something that we don’t think about. It’s part of our tax system. It’s just part of the state. So for me, it was strange to be nervous about just getting ill.” 


“When my first son was born, he was born with an illness and that actually brought me back to thinking about what it was like in America.”


“It just got me thinking about what you would do if you didn’t have the money for the treatment that your son or your daughter needed.”


“Michael Escamilla, who is the main character ‘Jim’ in our movie, is from McAllen. And Michael said, ‘Well, this is a border story. This is about where I’m from.'”

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