Sunday, January 19, 2014

The State of Arizona: A Documentary



The State of Arizona, a documentary, will premier on PBS on January 27.  Check your local listings.

In 2010, the Arizona Senate passed controversial immigration law SB 1070, also known as the “papers please” law, igniting a national maelstrom. Supporters call it a common sense law-enforcement tool; opponents feel it will inevitably lead to racial profiling. Neighborhoods empty, businesses shutter, and immigrants flee the state. Those who choose to stay organize boycotts, mass demonstrations, daring acts of civil disobedience, and prepare families for the possibility of separation by sudden deportation.

Mixing in interviews with footage of heated protest rallies and television coverage, the film tells the stories of Arizonans on all sides of this divisive issue — activists, politicians, Latino immigrants, ranchers, controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the newly empowered Tea Party movement, for whom illegal immigration is a flashpoint subject — depicting a state and its people testing the edges of our democratic values. Arizona’s enforcement-led policy, which grew out of its unique position as a frontline border state, is reshaping the national conversation around immigration reform. With dozens of states considering a similar approach, The State of Arizona holds up a mirror, asking Americans who they are, and who they want to be.


January 19, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Actress Maria Conchita Alonso Appears in Campaign Ad for Tough-on-Immigration Tim Donnelly


Various news outlets have reported that actress Maria Conchita Alonso faced a backlash after she endorsed a Tea Party immigration hardliner for California governor Tim Donnelly this month. Now Alonso has resigned from a production of "The Vagina Monologues" in San Francisco after the producer began taking heat.  For commentary on Salon on this odd episode, click hereThink Progress has similarly critical thoughts about the Donnelly ad.

Donnelly's campaugn website has this to say about immigration:

"As our border remains ever more porous, the costs of illegal immigration continue to mount. The legislature cuts our education and law enforcement budgets yet passes horrific entitlements costing us billions!

This is above all a rule-of-law issue. Instead of punishing those who have entered our country illegally, our state’s leaders have chosen to create greater incentives for this illegal behavior including free healthcare, free education, and now free college.

While the rest of the legislature was on recess, I spent my vacation leading the campaign to overturn the California DREAM Act, the bill that would give those illegal immigrants free taxpayer funded college tuition money.

In my first year in office, I introduced legislation to bring SB 1070, the Arizona Law, to California and stop sanctuary cities -- jurisdictions that refuse to enforce immigration laws."

Donnelly was once a member of the Minuteman Project, a group that patrolled the U.S.-Mexico border in undocumented immigrants.

January 19, 2014 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 Immigration Film of the Year: "Documented" by Jose Antonio Vargas


In 2011, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas outed himself as an undocumented immigrant in the New York Times Magazine. The film 'Documented' chronicles his journey to America from the Philippines as a child; his journey through America as an immigration reform activist/provocateur; and his journey inward as he re-connects with his mother in the Philippines, whom he has been unable to see in person in 20 years.

Vargas sold broadcast rights for the film to CNN Films to be broadcast nationally in the spring of 2014.

Last fall, I had the opportunity to see the film at a special showing by Vargas in Sacramento.  If you get a chance, see it.



December 16, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

RIP Joan Fontaine


The death of Peter O'Toole is in the news.  The film world yesterday also lost another movie icon -- Joan Fontaine born in Japan to British parents and who immigrated to the United States as a child. 

In 1941, Fontaine received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress for her role in Rebecca, directed by Alfred Hitchcock. The following year, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for Hitchcock's Suspicion (1941) making Fontaine the only actor to ever win an Academy Award in a film directed by Hitchcock.

Fontaine and her elder sister Olivia de Havilland are the only siblings to have won lead acting Academy Awards.

Fontaine lived in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California and died of natural causes at the age of 96.



December 16, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 13, 2013

ICE/El Hielo by La Santa Cecilia


The song is ICE/El Hielo by La Santa Cecilia has been nominated for "Video of the Year" in Univision's 2014 Premio Lo Nuestro awards show.  It tells the story about what millions of undocumented people who work on a daily basis go through to provide for their families only to get caught up in unjust deportations.  Erika Andiola is the central character in the video, a young waitress who gets caught in the middle of a workplace immigration raid. Erika lived through a similar experience earlier this year. Without notice, immigration agents detained her mother Maria Arreola and brother while at home and put them into deportation proceedings. Erika led efforts to build pressure on ICE through online petitions, calls and mobilizations to stop their deportations. Her brother was released shortly after and her mom was saved from being deported as the bus she was being transported in was literally turned around miles before the Mexican border in Arizona.

Vote for the video and tell your friends, family and co-workers to do the same. Just register on the voting site as a "guest" then click "General" on left column and scroll down to find "Video of the Year" and select "ICE El Hielo" by La Santa Cecilia. Here's the link to vote.


December 13, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Pope Francis Edges Miley Cyrus, Edward Snowden, Others for TIME Person of the Year

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Investigation into Jenni Rivera plane crash focuses on age of pilot, plane

Immigrant of the Day: Sofia Vergara (Colombia)


Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Born in Colombia, Sofía Margarita Vergara Vergara is an actress and model.  Vergara stars on the ABC series Modern Family as Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, for which she was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards, four Primetime Emmy Awards, and seven Screen Actors Guild Awards.



December 8, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Artists United Against Apartheid - Sun City

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


First-time documentarian Hilary Linder has nine days to raise $30,000 via a Kickstarter campaign for an intimate and powerful film, Indivisible, which documents the fight to reunite families separated by deportation. The funds will be used to finish filming the stories of real people at the heart of the U.S.’s immigration debate. With Congress’ continued inaction on immigration reform, Indivisible will serve as an important record of the devastating impact of deportations on families across America.


Indivisible launched its Kickstarter campaign to enable filming at a pivotal time in its main character’s lives. One character, Renata Teodoro, recently received special permission from the U.S. Government to travel to Brazil to see her family for the first time in nearly seven years.

Indivisible has the opportunity to document this emotional reunion and to share this compelling story with policy makers and audiences nationwide. However, Indivisible will only be able to film this momentous occasion if the Kickstarter campaign meets its goal. In two weeks, the project has raised more than $12,000, leaving only nine days to reach the goal of $30,000.

Donations of any amount are being accepted until Friday, Dec. 13, 2013. To watch the trailer for Indivisible and learn more about the film and Kickstarter campaign, click here.

By following the lives of young immigrants who grew up in the U.S. without documentation and whose families have been torn apart by deportation, Indivisible shows the human side of an issue that is too often talked about only in numbers and statistics. Indivisible’s main characters were small children when their parents brought them to the United States in search of a better life; they were teenagers when their mothers, fathers, and siblings were deported. Renata Teodoro, born in Brazil, was six years old when she made the harrowing journey across the U.S.-Mexico border with her mother and two siblings. In 2007, Renata’s entire family—her mother, brother, and sister—was deported after immigration officials raided their home. Now 25, Renata lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has been separated from her family for nearly seven years.


December 4, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A Melting Pot of Celebrities Makes Immigration Reform Look Fashionable; Fedoras for Fairness

Check out this story and pictures.  What do the actress Julianne Moore, the funnyman John Leguizamo, the supermodel Christy Turlington Burns and the director George C. Wolfe have in common? They’re among the 15 celebrities brought together by We Belong Together, a new national initiative to promote immigration reform. Earlier this year, this melting pot of talent gathered to have their portraits taken by the fashion photographer Albert Watson, who immigrated to the United States from Scotland in 1970. The resulting black-and-white photos are the calling card for Fedoras for Fairness, which has previously been highlighted on ImmigrationProf.



December 1, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Watching Television: Is "Homeland" Anti-Muslim? Is "Breaking Bad" Anti-Mexican?


The Showtime show Homeland has received many awards on accolades.  It obviously has grabbed the imagination of television critics and viewers.  But is it anti-Muslim?  For the argument that it depicts all Arabs and Muslims as terrorist suspects, read this article by Hillary Crosley at The Root.

This raises the broader question whether cable television shows are more likely than those on the mainstream networks to go to the edges of tasteful racial sensibilities.  AMC's Breaking Bad, which made a  a massive media sensation with its recent series finale, has been challenged as racist and portraying virtually every Latina/o in New Mexico, as well as the Mexican cartels, as unabashedly evil or damaged in some way.



November 28, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Eva Longoria: Immigration a ‘Broken System’


Before the inaugeration, Award-winning actress Eva Longoria told “This Week” that immigration reform should be a top priority in President Obama’s second term. “People say, ‘Oh, get in the back of the line,’ [but] people don’t realize there’s a hundred lines to get into,” said Longoria of the immigration process. ”It’s a very broken system.”



November 28, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film, Television | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, November 25, 2013

At the Movies: Hunger Games: Catching Fire


The new release Hunger Games:  Catching Fire is an action-packed escape vehicle.  A government to be paranoid of, athletic (kind of anyway) competition, a rebellion, what else could you want in a movie?

The Hunger Games has been involed in discussions of immigration.  Last summer, a crackdown on immigration, in which 140 people were arrested in the United Kingdom, was likened to "The Hunger Games" after the Home Office was accused of targeting people based on their ethnicity before arresting them.


A few years ago, Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum caused controversy when he suggested that a real-life Hunger Games could solve U.S. immigration problems. The Hunger Games tells of a young womanl who is forced by an oppressive government to take part in a televised battle to the death with other “tributes.”  In an interview with conservative host Sean Hannity, Santorum spoke at length about the popular series as well as a proposed immigration act which would give 24 contestants the opportunity to earn U.S. citizenship.



November 25, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Aloe Blacc - Wake Me Up


Here is the music video for the hit song “Wake Me Up.” A collaboration with singer Aloe Blacc, Director Alex Rivera, and some friends that star as actors, the video tells a story of one family whose dream to be together confronts the nightmare of US immigration policy.


November 21, 2013 in Books, Film, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Russell Brand denied entry into South Africa, forced to cancel shows

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

AL JAZEERA AMERICA PRESENTS TO AIR TWO AMERICANS SUNDAY, OCT. 27 Documentary Examines Both Sides of the Immigration Debate


 Two Americans portrays the emotional and economic turmoil that raids and subsequent deportations have on the families of undocumented workers, and the law enforcement officials whose job it is to arrest them. Two Americans follows the story of one such family - and the sheriff who is enforcing the law. Filmmakers Daniel DeVivo and Valeria Fernandez’s film profiles a family who is forced to live in the shadows in Arizona, a state that criminalizes their existence. Nine-year-old Katherine Figueroa’s parents are arrested when Sheriff Joe Arpaio raids a Phoenix carwash suspected of hiring illegal workers. As Katherine fights to save her parents from deportation, a community group pressures an investigation into sheriff’s actions. The sheriff’s retaliation sparks public outrage and a federal investigation. Two Americans showcases both sides of one of America’s most polarizing issues and provides an in-depth look at how immigration policy is affecting families and communities.

Watch Two Americans on Al Jazeera America Presents Sunday, Oct. 27 at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.

October 23, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Go See "Documented" by Jose Antonio Vargas

Last week, Pulitizer Prize winning writer Jose Antonio Vargas spoke about his new film “Documented” at UC Davis School of Law.  Last night, he held only his second screening of his new film in Sacramento.  I was fortunate enough to attend.  After Vargas introduced the film, the audience watched Documented, which tells Vargas’ very personal story about his travails as an undocumented person in the United States with “no line to wait in” for a lawful immigrant visa. One of the saddest parts of the story is that he has been separated from his mother, who still lives in the Philippines, for nearly 20 years.  My rating:  TWO THUMBS UP!

Among others, Sergio Garcia, the undocumented immigrant seeking admission to the California bar, also was in attendance. We sat next to each other at the movie and discussed, among other things, the recent arguments on his admission to the bar before the California Supreme Court.

I was honored to join Sergio Garcia, Jose Antonio Vargas, and other panelists in a discussion after the film about the issues of immigration law and policy that the film touched on.  



October 9, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Homeland: The most Islamophobic show on television?




The Season 3 premier of the critically-acclaimed Showtime series Homeland airs tonight.  The show, which depicts the U.S. government's efforts to protect the "homeland" against foreign -- almost exclusively Muslim -- threats to the national security, is popular among television critics but has been criticized as Islamophobic.  In an article for Salon, Laila al-Arian called the show the most Islamophobic show on television, accused it of portraying Muslims under the light of simplistic concepts and as a monolithic, single-minded group whose only purpose is to hurt Americans.


September 29, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Breaking Bad's Jesse Pinkman joins the President on Saturday Night Live



It seemed like a good time for a comedic interlude.  So watch this guest appearance from Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul on last night's Saturday Night Live.

By the way, the series finale of the television show Breaking Bad, the story of a milquetoast high school chemistry teacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico who turned to the dark side in a big way, is tonight.


UPDATE (9/30):  Here is the conclusion to the finale (Felina) from YouTube.




September 29, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film, Television | Permalink | Comments (0)