Friday, May 23, 2014
During lunch at the Immigration Law Teachers Workshop 2014 today, where I am live blogging, there was a discussion with documentary filmmakers Michael Camerini & Shari Robertson. Camerini and Robertson, who are known for their documentary, Well-Founded Fear, featured clips of their 2010 decomentary, How Democracy Works Now.
How Democracy Works Now tells the story of the fight for immigration reform between 2001 and 2007. It tells twelve stories - from the August 2001 negotiations for immigration reform pre-9/11 to Spring 2007 when Senator Ted Kennedy was advocating for reform - that seek to depict the struggles, compromises and strategies for changing immigration law.
Thursday, May 8, 2014
In 1988, Cesar Chavez embarked on what would be his last act of protest in his remarkable life. Driven in part to pay penance for feeling he had not done enough, Chavez began his "Fast for Life," a 36-day water-only hunger strike, to draw attention to the horrific effects of unfettered pesticide use on farm workers, their families, and their communities. Using never-before-seen footage of Chavez during his fast and testimony from those closest to him, directors Richard Ray Perez and Lorena Parlee weave together the larger story of Chavez's life, vision, and legacy. A deeply religious man, Chavez's moral clarity in organizing and standing with farmworkers at risk of his own life humbled his family, friends, and the world.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
The startling debut film from Diego Quemada-Díez presents a stark and unsentimental look at the realities of migration. Centering on the story of three young Guatemalans attempting to cross the U.S. border from Mexico, La jaula de oro compels viewers to contemplate the harsh circumstances that many migrants must face. Juan, Samuel, and Sara (who is forced to disguise herself as a boy) embark on a journey that they believe will culminate in a life of ease and comfort once they arrive in the United States. Hitching rides on cargo trains, they cross paths with Chauk, an adolescent boy from Chiapas who does not speak Spanish. As the four youngsters travel together, they encounter barrier after barrier, leading them to wonder whether the "good life" will remain forever elusive and out of reach.
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Operation Streamline was initially implemented along the U.S./Mexico border by the Bush Administration in 2005. The program charges criminally persons who crosses the border without authorization. In other words, it is a “zero tolerance” border enforcement program that targets even first time undocumented border-crossers. Instead of routing non-violent individuals caught crossing the border into civil deportation proceedings, Operation Streamline forces undocumented migrants through the federal criminal justice system and into U.S. prisons. Those who are caught making a first entry are prosecuted for misdemeanors, and those who reenter after deportation may be prosecuted for felonies punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Under this fast-track program, a federal criminal case with prison and deportation consequences is generally resolved in 2 days or less.
Monday, April 28, 2014
This episode of NPR's Alt.Latino focuses on Cesar Chavez, the recent biopic about the civil-rights activist and labor leader and the movement to unionize farm workers. The film has been credited as an example of a Latino filmmaker telling the kinds of stories often ignored by mainstream cinema. It's also been taken to task for glossing over the contributions of Filipino organizers to the creation of the United Farm Workers union, while also minimizing Dolores Huerta's role in the movement during the time depicted in the film. Gustavo Arellano, author of the column Ask A Mexican, and film critic Anne Hoyt discuss the conflicting views that the film has generated since its March release.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
A previous Immigrant of the Day, Lupita Nyong'o was honored with an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of a slave in The "12 Years a Slave." Further demonstrating that Nyong'o has truly made it, People magazine has bestowed one of its highest honors as "Most Beautiful Person for 2014." As CNN put it, "The Mexican-born Kenyan beauty joins a cast of Hollywood A-listers who have headed the list, including Julia Roberts, Cindy Crawford, Tom Cruise and Beyonce."
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
This parody is brought to you by the fine people at Reason TV. But don't you wish law enforcement stops really went down like this one? "
Here is a handy infographic listing all the rights you have when law enforcement officers stop you.
Monday, March 31, 2014
The Grand Budapest Hotel chronicles the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. There is an immigration angle, with Lobby Boy Zero a refugee and vulnerable to the Nazis becaus eof his uncertain immigration status.
For reviews, click here.
Friday, March 28, 2014
As Dean Kevin Johnson blogged earlier, today is Cesar Chavez day in California. It is wonderful that students in California (and other states) learn about the advocacy work that Cesar Chavez did to help create better working conditions for farm workers and other immigrant workers.
To me, this day is also a call to remember the other unsung heroes of the farm labor movement. There were other advocates who worked alongside Cesar Chavez. Some of them were Filipino farmer workers known as "Delano Manongs." One of these manongs was Larry Itliong, who was a labor organizer who led a group of 1,500 Filipinos to strike, like Cesar Chavez and other Mexican American workers, against the grape growers of Delano, California.
Although I have yet to see the new Cesar Chavez movie , my 5th grader saw it today with her classmates and she explained that the movie showed the collaboration between the Delano Manongs and Cesar Chavez and other farm workers. A new documentary, "Delano Manongs," provides a more in-depth account of the advocacy work of these Filipino farm workers in improving the working and life conditions of immigrant workers.
Moreover, through a bill (AB 123) that was sponsored by Assembly Member Rob Bonta and signed by Governor Jerry Brown in October 2013, students in California will learn about the contributions of Filipino farm workers to the California labor movement.
So on this Cesar Chavez Day, let us honor not only Cesar Chavez but also Larry Itliong and the Mexican American and Filipino American workers (and others) who worked alongside to help improve the lives of farm workers in California and the United States.
Monday, March 24, 2014
Kino Lorber presents the U.S. theatrical premiere WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL?, the piercing new film about the human side of the U.S. immigration crisis by Gael García Bernal (Y Tu Mamá También, No) and Marc Silver. The film will open on April 25th in New York, followed by a release to select U.S. cities nationwide.
Winner of the Sundance 2013 World Cinema Cinematography Award and an official selection at the 51st New York Film Festival, WHO IS DAYANI CRISTAL? adds critical perspective to the intense immigration reform debate in the United States. In this piercing documentary that pushes the edges of the non-fiction form, acclaimed Mexican actor and activist Gael García Bernal tells the story of one of the many migrant workers who lost their lives in the stretch of Arizona desert known as “the corridor of death.” As Mr. Bernal retraces this man’s steps along the migrant trail in Central America, he and director Marc Silver show how one life can become a powerful testimony to the tragic results of the U.S. war on immigration.
With contributions from the dedicated forensic examiners of the Pima County Morgue in Arizona, the film seeks to answer questions surrounding the death of this yet-unidentified man. As the investigation unfolds, Mr. Bernal embeds himself among migrant travelers on their own mission to cross the border. He witnesses first-hand the dangers that these men, women and children face on their way to the United States, offering new insight into the sacrifices made in the search for a better life.
Gael García Bernal and director Marc Silver have created an unique experiential documentary that illuminates the urgent issue of immigration. The film brings viewers intimately close to the often-invisible lives that have been affected by a broken immigration policy.
Saturday, March 22, 2014
The Crusades of Cesar Chavez by Miriam Pawel
Cesar Chavez founded a labor union, launched a movement, and inspired a generation. He rose from migrant worker to national icon, becoming one of the great charismatic leaders of the 20th century. Two decades after his death, Chavez remains the most significant Latino leader in US history. Yet his life story has been told only in hagiography—until now.
In the first comprehensive biography of Chavez, Miriam Pawel offers a searching yet empathetic portrayal. Chavez emerges here as a visionary figure with tragic flaws; a brilliant strategist who sometimes stumbled; and a canny, streetwise organizer whose pragmatism was often at odds with his elusive, soaring dreams. He was an experimental thinker with eclectic passions—an avid, self-educated historian and a disciple of Gandhian non-violent protest.
Drawing on thousands of documents and scores of interviews, this superbly written life deepens our understanding of one of Chavez’s most salient qualities: his profound humanity. Pawel traces Chavez’s remarkable career as he conceived strategies that empowered the poor and vanquished California’s powerful agriculture industry, and his later shift from inspirational leadership to a cult of personality, with tragic consequences for the union he had built. The Crusades of Cesar Chavez reveals how this most unlikely American hero ignited one of the great social movements of our time.
Miriam Pawel is an award-winning reporter and editor who spent twenty-five years working for Newsday and the Los Angeles Times.
This book review in the Los Angeles Times highlights the book's look at Chavez's treatment of undocumented immigrants:
"Pawel does not shy away from the more disturbing sides of Chavez and the UFW. Chavez railed against illegal immigration, encouraging deportations — even though in parts of California most farm workers were undocumented, and many were willing to organize and become part of the UFW.
Cesar's cousin, Manuel Chavez, working for Chavez and the UFW, hired thugs to beat up migrants at the border in Arizona and bribed local police to let the vigilantes do their work, a project, as Pawel notes, decidedly at odds with Cesar's `steadfast commitment to nonviolence.'"
The Crusades of Cesar Chavez is likely to contrast sharply with the soon-to-be-released film Cesar Chavez.
Thursday, March 20, 2014
A new documentary series hopes to change the way Americans think and talk about immigration reform. It’s called “Borderland” and it premiers nationwide on Al Jazeera America on Sunday, April 13th. Six Americans, from different walks of life and armed with strong viewpoints, are dropped into situations that transform the way they look at immigration reform. Before anyone makes up their mind on the immigration debate, they should watch this thought-provoking series.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
The World Premiere of The Tinaja Trail, a documentary by Bryce Newell (a graduate of UC Davis School of Law) about the migrant deaths along the U.S./Mexico border, is slated for March 22 in Tampa, Florida as part of the Gasparilla International Film Festival. The film also will be shown in April at the Arizona International Film Festival.
Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Cesar Chavez (2014)
A biography of the civil-rights activist and labor organizer Cesar Chavez. Chronicling the birth of a modern American movement, Cesar Chavez tells the story of the famed civil rights leader and labor organizer torn between his duties as a husband and father and his commitment to securing a living wage for farm workers. Passionate but soft-spoken, Chavez embraced non-violence as he battled greed and prejudice in his struggle to bring dignity to people. Chavez inspired millions of Americans from all walks of life who never worked on a farm to fight for social justice. His triumphant journey is a remarkable testament to the power of one individual's ability to change the world.
This film opens on the weekend of March 28. Follow the movie at
Monday, March 10, 2014
Pulling Strings (2013) (NOW ON DVD)
After a night of drinking, Rachel, a diplomat working in Mexico City finds her world turned upside down after she's saved by Alejandro, a Mariachi singer whose visa was rejected the day before - by Rachel.
Rachel is an intelligent, modern-day woman constantly on the move. Primarily focused on her career as a diplomatic consul for the U.S. embassy, she's literally lived her life on the move, globe-trotting from city to city. Currently working in Mexico City and set to leave for London, Rachel's world turns upside down on the eve of her own goodbye party when she gets drunk and passes out on the street. Saved by Alejandro, a handsome Mariachi singer and single father, Rachel wakes up in his apartment with no recollection of how she got there. Nor does she remember that she rejected his visa the day before, which he desperately needs for his daughter. Romance unexpectedly blossoms between the two, but either sparks or fists will fly after she finds out his secret.
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
In 2000 award-winning Korean-American filmmaker Grace Lee met Grace Lee Boggs while making The Grace Lee Project, a documentary that explores and debunks stereotypes about Asian American women who share the same name. Not content with a single interview, American Revolutionary Director Grace Lee went on to spend the next ten years filming Boggs in her home city of Detroit, an evolving relationship that has proven fruitful for both women. The daughter of Chinese immigrants who owned a restaurant in New York City, Grace Lee Boggs studied at Barnard and eventually received her Ph.D in Philosophy at Bryn Mawr. Despite her credentials, Boggs, as an Asian woman, was not able to get an academic job much less a position in a department store. She decided to move to Chicago where she could get a low-wage job at the University of Chicago Philosophy Library. While living on Chicago's south side, she started working as a tenants rights organizer within the African-American community -- her introduction to a lifelong commitment to activism.
Boggs eventually moved to Detroit, where she met her husband James ("Jimmy") Boggs - an African American autoworker and activist. Together, they formed a partnership that engaged them in the major U.S. social movements of the last century: from labor to civil rights, to Black Power, the environmental justice movements and beyond. Although Grace Lee Boggs is most well known for her involvement in the Black Power movement, her scholarship and actions defy easy categorization. In the years since James' death in 1993, Grace has become an icon in particular for Asian-Americans as well as activists of all stripes. As Director Grace Lee wrestles with this hybrid political legacy, she dives into Grace Lee Boggs's past as well as her identity as a Chinese-American woman, a background that Boggs herself has only recently acknowledged in her work. More than a decade in the making, this portrait of an author/activist whose work has touched multiple communities and generations, will appeal widely to college students.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Barkhad Abdi, an actor, made his cinematic debut in the 2013 film Captain Phillips, for which he received various film award nominations, including Best Actor in a Supporting Role at the Academy Awards. Abdii was born in 1985 in Mogadishu, Somalia. He was raised in Yemen. At age 14, Abdi moved with his family to Minneapolis, Minnesota. He subsequently attended Minnesota State University, Moorhead. Before entering the film industry, he worked as a limousine driver, store clerk, and disc jockey
In Captain Phillips, Abdi playes Abduwali Muse, a ship hijacker and pirate leader.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
The long-awaited night of the Academy Awards is upon us!
ImmigrationProf previously profiled Immigrant of the Day Lupita Nyong'o, who is nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the abused slave Patsey in the powerful indictment of American slavery 12 Years a Slave (2013). (I must say that I am not sure that I could again sit through that horrific flogging scene of Patsey near the end of the film.). Nyong'o already has won the Screen Actors Guild and Critics' Choice Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and was nominated for the Golden Globe and BAFTA.
In a particularly strong field, the nominees for Best Supporting Actress are:
Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave"
By the way, I saw all of these performances and must say that the group of films is a very dark representation of life in past and present America.