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.
Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle, an investigative look at the life and mysterious death of pioneering journalist Ruben Salazar premieres on PBS on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 9:00 PM ET. It examines the life and mysterious death of pioneering journalist Ruben Salazar. At the heart of the story is Salazar's transformation from a mainstream, establishment reporter to primary chronicler and supporter of the radical Chicano movement of the late 1960s. Killed under mysterious circumstances by a law enforcement officer in 1970, Salazar became an instant martyr to Latinos - many of whom had criticized his reporting during his lifetime. Adding to the Salazar mystique is that the details of how he was killed have been obscured in the ensuing four decades since his death.
Featuring material from recently released files obtained by the filmmaker, Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle removes Salazar from the glare of myth and martyrdom and offers a clear-eyed look at the man and his times. The film, produced and directed by Phillip Rodriguez, includes interviews with Salazar's friends, colleagues and family members, and Salazar's own words culled from personal writings.
Ruben Salazar: Man in the Middle reveals the truth about the pioneering journalist's life and death, removing him from the shadows of legend and restoring him to his rightful place in history. The Salazar story had long been considered to be an ethnic story, a regional story," says filmmaker Rodriguez. "But it is much bigger than that. This is a story about a regular guy who, motivated by principle, challenges an abusive authority at great risk to himself - it's a classic American story."
WINNER BEST DOCUMENTARY 2014 San Antonio CineFestival
Sunday, February 23, 2014
CNN reports that Maria von Trapp, the last of the singing children immortalized in the movie musical "The Sound of Music," died last week at her Vermont home of natural causes. The native of Austria was 99.
The von Trapp family fled Austria after the German annexation and came to the United States in 1938 and settled in Vermont in 1942
Maria became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1948 and lived at her family's lodge in Stowe, Vermont. She was the last survivor of the seven original von Trapp children.
Thursday, February 20, 2014
Lupita Nyong'o is an actress who made her American film debut in 12 Years a Slave (2013) as Patsey. For that role, Nyong'o won the Screen Actors Guild and Critics' Choice Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role, and was nominated for the Golden Globe, BAFTA and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Nyong'o was born in Mexico City to Dorothy and Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, a politician in Kenya. It is a Luo tradition to name a child after the events of the day, so her parents named her Lupita (a diminutive of "Guadalupe"). Her father was the former Kenyan Minister for Medical Services. At the time of Lupita's birth, he was a visiting lecturer in political science at El Colegio de Mexico, and her family had been living in Mexico for three years. Her father was in political exile for his pro-democracy activities that challenged the Kenyan government.
Nyong'o moved back to Kenya with her parents when she was less than one year old. She grew up primarily in Kenya but attended college in the United States (Hampshire College and Yale).
Nyong'o currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
It continues to amaze me that the U.S. government uses drones to patrol the U.S./Mexico border, a tactic that strikes me as something out of a science fiction movie like "Escape from New York."
Click here for a cost/benefit analysis in the Christian Science Monitor of drone patrols - and the use of Predator B drones. The drones are back in the air after being grounded after a January 28 crash. What have we come to as a nation?
Thursday, January 23, 2014
CNN reports that teen heartthrob Justin Bieber has been arrested for a suspected DUI and drag racing in Miami Beach. As previously reported on ImmigrationProf, this foreign-born noncitizen is risking deportation from the United States for his criminal activities. In setting records for annual removals, the Obama administration has aggressively targeted "criminal aliens" for deportation, going so far as to threaten with removal an undocumented woman known as "the tamale lady" who was arrested for selling tamales outside a Walmart store in Sacramento.
UPDATE (1/24): See this MoveOn.Org petition to "Treat All Immigrants Like Justin Bieber!"
UPDATE (1/26): Ruben Navarette has an interesting take on the possible deportation of Justin Bieber.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
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.
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 here. Think 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."
Monday, December 16, 2013
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.
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.
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.
Friday, December 13, 2013
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.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
The big news today is that the TIME Person of the Year is Pope Francis.
Pope Francis is an interesting choice among the final contenders for the honor (listed alphabetically):
Bashar Assad, President of Syria
Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder
Ted Cruz, Texas Senator
Miley Cyrus, Singer
Barack Obama, President of the United States
Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran
Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services
Edward Snowden, N.S.A. Leaker
Edith Windsor, Gay rights activist
Sunday, December 8, 2013
It has been a year since a plane crash killed singer Jenni Rivera, the Mexican-American singer and reality television star known as “the Diva of Banda,” and six others. New details have emerged about what might have caused the plane to crash in a mountainous area of northern Mexico. Here is the latest on the investigation.
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.
Friday, December 6, 2013
In Memory of Nelson Mandela
Artists United Against Apartheid was a 1985 protest group founded by activist and performer Steven Van Zandt and record producer Arthur Baker to protest apartheid in South Africa. The group produced the song "Sun City" and the album Sun City that year.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
“INDIVISIBLE” – FILM FUNDRAISING TO DOCUMENT DREAMERS’ FIGHT TO REUNITE WITH DEPORTED FAMILY MEMBERS
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.