Sunday, July 16, 2017

At the Movies: The Big Sick


A Pakistani-American comic falls in love with an American graduate student, but because of cultural pressures from his family, he is forced to keep the relationship a secret. It is only when she becomes mysteriously ill and is put into a medically induced coma that he decides to tell his family about the woman he loves.

That is the plot of the new film The Big Sick, but it is also the story of how the film's co-writers, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, met and fell in love in real life.  Terry Gross on NPR's Fresh Air interviewed the co-writers and talked about their real life story.


Married co-writers Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani based the romantic comedy The Big Sick on their own love story. Angela Weiss/Getty Images 



July 16, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Ministering to Immigrants & Refugees

Sister Pat Murphy and Sister JoAnn Persch are passionate advocates for immigrant and refugee rights. DePaul University has created three short films about the sisters' decades of work ministering to those communities. Here's the first:


July 15, 2017 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 8, 2017

At the Movies: Beatriz at Dinner (2017)

It is blazing hot in the Central Valley in California (100 degrees-plus yesterday and today) and a cool theater sounds like the right move.  Here is one new release -- a comedy at that with an immigration subtext -- that may be worth watching.


Beatriz at Dinner (2017)  Beatriz (Salma Hayek), an immigrant from a poor town in Mexico, has drawn on her innate kindness to build a career as a health practitioner in Southern California. Don Strutt (John Lithgow)  is a real estate developer whose cutthroat tactics have made him a self-made, self-satisfied billionaire. When these two polar opposites meet at a dinner party, their worlds collide and neither will ever be the same.


I saw this movie over the weekend and can attest that it is thought provoking and unsettling at the same time.  Watch the ending carefully!



July 8, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Proceeds from Coldplay's "Alien" Music to Benefit Refugees


Billboard reports that the "aliens" in Coldplay's animated lyric video for the new song "ALIENS" are extraterrestrials fleeing from otherworldly dangers, but the song is going to benefit refugees on Earth. 

The band has shared the latest track off the forthcoming Kaleidoscope EP, announcing that all proceeds will go to Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), an international non-governmental organization that rescues migrants and refugees at sea in the Mediterranean.



July 7, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

From the Bookshelves: Burning Bridges: America's 20-Year Crusade To Deport Labor Leader Harry Bridges by Peter Afrasiabi

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Soon to be a major motion picture and based on declassified FBI documents, including secret documents from J. Edgar Hoover's vault and never-before-published National Archives documents, Burning Bridges is the first detailed account of the twenty-year legal campaign waged by government lawyers and policymakers, in secret conjunction with private enterprise, to deport labor leader Harry Bridges. Set in the middle decades of the twentieth century during the Cold War, this is a story of bribery, perjury, and wiretaps; of secret FBI investigations, witness intimidation, and secret deals; and of assassination attempts, overzealous government prosecutors, and larger-than-life defense lawyers risking prison defending their clients.

Three-quarters of a century on, the legacy of the Harry Bridges trials still haunts America s legal system and is critical to assess because Americans today again confront aggressive prosecutorial and police action and a modern surveillance state with the greatest threat of government intrusions into civil liberties since Bridges' era.

Bridges was the center player in Bridges v. Wixon, the 1945 Supreme Court decision.

Harry_Bridges _1934


July 7, 2017 in Books, Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy July 4! Great Immigrants Honored



Carnegie Corporation of New York salutes the legacy of Andrew Carnegie and other immigrants every July 4th. Join us by exploring an inspiring group of well known naturalized citizens from all walks of life — the “Pride of America” — who have made notable contributions to the progress of our society. Visit our special Great Immigrants website to see all honorees since 2006. You can also chart Carnegie’s journey to America and read the latest news from our grantees and other partners working to foster citizenship and civic integration.

Among this year’s Great Immigrants:

  • Jeff Skoll Social entrepreneur, and 2017 Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy recipient
  • Max Levchin PayPal cofounder
  • Do Won Chang Forever 21 cofounder                                                                              
  • Ilhan Omar and Norma Torres state and federal legislators                                          
  • Abdul K. Kallon U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama judge      
  • Angel Cabrera George Mason University president
  • Daron Acemoglu 2017 Andrew Carnegie Fellow                                                            
  • Oliver Hart, Daniel Kahneman, J. Michael Kosterlitz, Andrew Schally, Sir J. Fraser Stoddart, and David Thouless Nobel Prize winners
  • Việt Thanh Nguyễn Pulitzer Prize winner 
  • Masha Gessen and Ayman Mohyeldin Journalists
  • Anthony Hopkins, Liam Neeson, Morena Baccarin Actors
  • KJ

July 4, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 3, 2017

2017 Global Migration Film Festival: Call for Entries


The UN Migration Agency (IOM) is inviting professional and emerging filmmakers to submit perception-changing films about the migrant experience for the second annual Global Migration Film Festival (5–18 December). Click here for details.

The Global Migration Film Festival showcases films that capture the promise and challenges of migration for those who leave their homes in search of a better life and the unique contributions migrants make to their new communities.

In 2016, the inaugural festival took place in 89 countries. Nearly 10,000 people attended 220 screenings at cinemas, universities, cultural institutions and other venues. The festival hosted 13 films and documentaries, as well as 200 short films about and by migrants.

“The journeys migrants take, sometimes full of peril, often full of hope, have been the subject of films throughout the history of cinema,” says IOM Director General William Lacy Swing. “We hope the films at our next festival will instill understanding, empathy with characters, awe at their journeys and admiration for those who welcome their new neighbors.”


July 3, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Happy Birthday Canada!

Today is Canada Day. Our neighbor to the North is celebrating 150 years of nationhood. Happy birthday!

I'm watching coverage of the celebrations on local TV. (Here in North Dakota one of our best local channels is the Canadian Broadcasting Channel.)

What's particularly lovely is that the CBC is celebrating by running back-to-back episodes of "Becoming Canadian," a show that follows new Canadians and talks about their varied paths to Canadian citizenship.


July 1, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

At the Movies: Jackie Chan, Pierce Brosnan to Star in "The Foreigner"

Far-Right Member On Trial for Smuggling Refugee Lover

Béatrice Huret, photo Steve Finn via BBC

The story of Béatrice Huret feels a bit like a Lifetime movie. As the BBC reports, Huret was a card-carrying member of France's far-right National Front (FN). And then, one day, she gave a ride to a teenager living in France's notorious Calais refugee camp.

Huret was appalled by the conditions at Calais. And she began to help.

Along the way, she met Mokhtar. "It was love at first sight."

They lived together for a while. She ended up buying a small boat that he and two friends used to sail across the English Channel. At some point, the boat started taking on water, but the men were rescued and taken to a refugee camp in the UK.

While Huret's story hasn't made it to the big or little screen just yet, she does have a tell-all book called Calais mon amour. And The Local reports that "several film-makers are vying to acquire the rights."

All that attention has landed Huret in hot water. Last August, she was arrested and charged with people smuggling. Today, she goes on trial. If convicted, she faces up to 10 years in prison.

Asked by the BBC if it was worth it, Huret replied: "Yes... I did it for him. You do anything for love."


UPDATE: Huret has been found guilty but, the BBC reports, the court "did not hand down any punishment" for her.

June 27, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

CNN's Refugee Videos

CNN has posted a series of videos - interviews with Muslim refugees who resettled in the United States between 1982 and 2014.

The interviewees answer questions such as: What was the American dream for you? What is the greatest difficulty you face in the US? What are your greatest fears about today's political and social climate? What does the future hold for you and other refugees in America?

The clips are all brief - less than 2 minutes each. They could easily be incorporated into the classroom to really humanize the issue of asylum and refugee law.


June 27, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Teaching Resources | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

At the Movies: Warehoused

I spent World Refugee Day with the Global Friends Coalition in Grand Forks, an organization that brings together individuals and organizations to foster the integration of New Americans into our community. Global Friends hosted a screening and discussion of the documentary Warehoused. Here's the the trailer:

The focus of the movie is what's it like to live in a refugee camp, specifically Dadaab in Kenya. You get a sense of the space - built for 90,000 but currently housing 350,000 though, unofficially, that number might be closer to 600,000. Those hundreds of thousands of refugees at Dadaab live an "extremely restrictive life." They cannot leave the camp and generations may be born and die there without leaving its boundaries. The film also sheds light on schooling, housing, food, water and sanitation within the camp.

The film highlights the "impossible dream" of resettlement in a third country like the United States or Australia. Only 2,000 or so will be resettled each year. Yet the birth rate at the camp is 1,000 a month.

The film is a little over an hour long. And I'll note that it's appropriate for mature children as well as adults. There's little discussion of the violence that leads refugees to seek shelter in Dadaab. It's really more about what it's like to live in a camp, "waiting for resettlement that will never come."


June 21, 2017 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 5, 2017

At the Movies: And They They Came for Us (Opening Aug. 2017)

Came for us

And They They Came for Us 

This is a documentary film by Abby Ginzberg. The documentary ties together the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II with current moves towards instituting a Muslim registry. The film, which opens in August, demonstrates the importance of speaking up against any efforts to register or ban Muslims today. Knowing our history is the first step in making sure we do not repeat it. Click here for a preview.



June 5, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

'We film, therefore we are'


Holding her toddler in her arms, the young woman spoke at first timidly into the camera: “My name is Rehana, and I am 14. I never had access to school. Now I have children, but they have no school either.”

Her voice grew in confidence and strength as she imagined herself speaking to a wider audience. “I want my son to learn English, Burmese and Bangla, because I’m certain that if he is educated, he won’t have to work in any odd job. He’ll be self-dependent!”

We are in Leda, a makeshift settlement in Cox’s Bazar, one of Bangladesh’s most remote and impoverished districts – more than four hours travel by air and land from Dhaka – where an extremely vulnerable community of 15,000 live isolated and uncertain lives. To give communities a much-needed voice in problem solving, the International Organization for Migration has started a Participatory Video initiative in the makeshift settlements.


June 1, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Law and Order Season Finale on the "American Dream/Sanctuary"



Last week, Law & Order: SVU had its season finale and it had a "ripped from the headlines" story line about hate crimes against Muslims, undocumented immigrants, "sanctuary cities," and more.  Here is a description:  "Three masked men break into a Syrian family’s restaurant, steal the money, kill the father, rape both of his adult daughters, then kill one of those daughters. Along the way, the criminals spray-paint “Muslims must die” on the refrigerators."  The episode can be watched online.

The episode had the NYPD detectives investigating a horrible rape/murder case with a family of Muslim victims.  In the course of the special two hour episode, the story line takes us through the modern immigration debates  immigration and the Big Apple's status as a "sanctuary city"; nonetheless, SVU detective Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) threatens an undocumented immigrant mother from El Salvador with removal unless she provides information.  In the end, the viewer has to decide whether justice has been done.



May 28, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

At the Movies -- Cannes 2017: Virtual Reality Film Carne y Arena Tells of Border Crossing Experience




The Los Angeles Times reports on the this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where organizers for the first time included a virtual reality project in its Official Selection.

Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s ”Carne y Arena,” by the Oscar-winning director of Birdman and “The Revenant,” is a multi-platform experience that includes a VR film.

"Carne y Arena” tells the story of Latin American immigrants attempting to cross into the United States through the Arizona desert when they are caught by U.S. authorities. Iñárritu and his frequent cinematography collaborator Emmanuel Lubezki located real people who suffered the torturous journey and had them reenact it on camera; they then shot their stories with VR's 360-degree sweep and in-your-face urgency.


May 24, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Professional Boxer Fights for Green Card


USA Today reports the immigration backstory to professional boxer Ray Beltran's spectacular knockout victory of Jonathan Maicelo last Saturday night.  Before the fight, Beltran (33-7-1) had been told by immigration experts that climbing into mandatory challenger position for the International Boxing Federation lightweight title would likely prove decisive in his long fight to become a green card holder after entering the United States as an undocumented immigrant from Mexico as a teen.

Beltran’s situation was first featured on USA TODAY Sports last week, as part of the Sports on the Border series. 

Beltran seeks to convince U.S. immigration authorities that he is an "extraordinary athlete" and eligible for an employment-based (EB-1) lawful permanent resident visa.  The visa is typically available to certain sportspeople, entertainers, and masters of the arts and sciences. Recently, he has been in the U.S. under a temporary (nonimmigrant) visa for athletes.


May 22, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Sports | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Death on the Border: 20 Years ago, Esequiel Hernández, Jr.  


LexisNexis Legal Newsroom reminds us of the consequences of our militarization of the border:  "In 1997, U.S. Marines patrolling the Texas-Mexican border as part of the war on drugs shot and killed Esequiel Hernández, Jr.   Mistaken for a drug runner, the 18 year old was, in fact, a U.S. citizen tending his family's goats with a .22 rifle.   He became the first American killed by U.S. military forces on native soil since the 1970 Kent State shootings."

This PBS DVD, The Ballad of Esequiel Hernández, is a must-view for all who care about our border policies.  


May 21, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

At the Movies: Lupe Under The Sun and Purgatorio


Lupe Under The Sun is a fictional portrait with real migrant laborers as actors that delves into the psychological effects of the loneliness and poverty undocumented workers frequently experience. The film explores the dislocation faced by those who have crossed borders in search of opportunity.


Purgatorio is a provocative documentary re-imagines the Mexico/U.S. border as a mythical place comparable to Dante’s purgatory. The border is depicted as a place where desperate poverty, violence, protectionism and paranoia collide. Purgatorio is a timely and resonant portrait of humanity.


May 16, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Light & Noir: Exiles & Émigrés in Hollywood, 1933-1950


The California History Museum is exhibiting Light & Noir: Exiles & Émigrés in Hollywood, 1933-1950 from May 16 - Oct. 15, 2017.   

Carla Meyer in the Sacramento Bee describes the exhibit as follow:  "As Adolf Hitler rose to power in the 1930s, many German-speaking actors and directors found refuge, and work, in Hollywood. These exiles – many but not all Jewish – included directing great Billy Wilder and much of the supporting cast of `Casablanca.'”


The exhibit “Light & Noir: Exiles & Émigrés in Hollywood, 1933-1950” showcases “how important German-speaking exiles were in shaping what we now call the Golden Age of Hollywood,” exhibit curator Doris Berger said by telephone.

Read more here:

Drawn from the collections of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Warner Bros., NBCUniversal, Paramount and more, artifacts from the 16 films featured in the exhibit tell the history of Hollywood’s formative era through the lens of the émigré experience, demonstrating experiences of immigration, acculturation and innovation that intersect with the flourishing of Hollywood as an American cultural phenomenon whose legacy continues to shape the industry today. Highlights include:



May 14, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)