Monday, December 16, 2013

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)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


 For the next two weeks, a free online stream is available of the short documentary Frontier Youth. This thought-provoking film explores immigration and border issues on an intimate human scale. Its three characters are young people growing up in Douglas, Arizona and Agua Prieta, Mexico – neighboring border towns defined by undocumented migration and an increasingly militarized border.

Frontier Youth is unique in viewing these issues through the perspective of young adults on both sides of the border.



September 24, 2013 in Books, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, September 20, 2013

At the Movies: Brooklyn Castle

Katie Dellamaggiore’s Brooklyn Castle has its national broadcast premiere on Monday, Oct. 7, 2013 at 10 p.m. (check local listings) on the award-winning PBS documentary series POV (Point of View). The film will stream on POV’s website from Oct. 8- Nov. 6, 2013. The film is part of the new PBS INDIES SHOWCASE, a four-week series of independent documentaries airing on Monday nights from Sept. 30-Oct. 21.

The late I.S. principal Fred Rubino pointed out that extracurricular activities are not really “extra,” because they teach “the whole child.” Beginning in 2000, under the tutelage of chess teacher and coach Elizabeth Spiegel and assistant principal John Galvin, the school expanded its small chess program and began competing in national tournaments. The results have been stunning: more than 30 national chess titles, including the 2012 U.S. High School National Championship, a first for a junior high.

Meet the students:

Twelve-year-old Alexis Paredes’ approach to chess is like his play—meditative and thoughtful. The second-ranked player at I.S. 318, he sees chess as a way to an education and a lucrative career that will allow him to support his Paraguayan immigrant family.

Justus Williams, 11 years old, is a prodigy, already one of America’s highest-ranked young chess players. Yet he is plagued by a tendency to freeze, stymied by the expectations created by his success.

Thirteen-year-old Rochelle Ballantyne, who broke the gender line of what had been an all-boys chess club, has the potential to become the first African-American female master in the history of chess. She is the first-ranked player in the school.

Pobo Efekoro, 12, is the big, boisterous, warm-hearted leader of the team. When the school’s budget for afterschool programs is cut, he runs for school president with the goal of mobilizing a student protest to get the cuts restored.

Patrick Johnston, 11, is a sensitive beginner who wants to raise his ranking to middle level. He has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and has taken to chess to develop concentration and patience.

For these kids, chess is more than a game, and winning is more than a matter of trophies. Brooklyn Castle is a clear-eyed look at a school program that has made a huge difference to students. It is equally a celebration of youth’s determination to dream, if given the chance.


September 20, 2013 in Current Affairs, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, September 16, 2013

At the Movies -- Too Close To Home: A Documentary

Human trafficking

"Too Close To Home,” a documentary produced by WEDU, premieres September 26 at 9 p.m. on WEDU.

Behind our world-famous beaches, tourist attractions and sunny suburbs lies an alarming secret: Tampa Bay is a hotbed for human trafficking. Men, women and children are forced against their will to serve in the sex trade, domestic servitude and agricultural industries. They are bought, sold and discarded in our own community, making Florida the third-highest ranked state in the nation for this fast-growing crime.

Join us for an in-depth look at this crisis with TOO CLOSE TO HOME, a WEDU documentary on human trafficking in Tampa Bay. Local law enforcement, service providers and citizens are creating a grass roots movement to help combat this form of modern-day slavery. The documentary will be followed by TOO CLOSE TO HOME: A Roundtable Discussion, which delves further into specific local efforts to help human trafficking victims in Tampa Bay. The issues of safe housing, public health, funding and state legislation will be addressed to recognize the special needs of victims and educate the community on the many ways it can help.


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