Thursday, December 14, 2017

From the Bookshelves: The Newcomers: Finding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom by Helen Thorpe


The Newcomers:  inding Refuge, Friendship, and Hope in an American Classroom by Helen Thorpe 

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

Music Break: Jackson Browne - The Dreamer (Featuring Los Cenzontles)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Salma Hayek on Harvey Weinstein


In this New York Times piece, Mexican Actress Salma Hayek, whose work has been featured on this blog, joins the women who have horror stories of harassment at the hands of Hollywood's Harvey Weinstein.  She concludes:

"I am grateful for everyone who is listening to our experiences. I hope that adding my voice to the chorus of those who are finally speaking out will shed light on why it is so difficult, and why so many of us have waited so long. Men sexually harassed because they could. Women are talking today because, in this new era, we finally can."


December 13, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Global Migration Film Festival


The Global Migration Film Festival is being orchestrated by the UN's International Organization for Migration. From December 5 through the 18th, more than 30 films about migration are going to be screened in over 100 countries. If you head to this link, you can see trailers for all of the movies selected for screenings.


December 6, 2017 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies: Maine Girls


Following 13 immigrant and U.S.-born teenage girls, MAINE GIRLS explores the important role that young people play in bridging cultural divides. In Maine - the whitest state in America - immigrant students are entering public schools in record numbers. But as the population increases, so does the number of hate crimes. Over the course of 8 weeks, a diverse group of girls at South Portland High School learn what it takes – and what it means – to make genuine friendships with people who don't look or live the same way that they do. Leading by example, these teenage girls pave the way for greater empathy at their school and in doing so, encourage other girls to step up and do the same in their own communities throughout the United States.

On January 27, 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order, which suspended the entry of immigrants from seven countries, and forced the United States to reckon with the wrenching question: can America still stand as a beacon of hope to newcomers to its shores?

In South Portland, Maine, this question was playing itself out on the streets, in homes, and even in the local high school well before Trump's election. Though, according to the US Census, despite being the “whitest” state in the nation,  immigration in Maine is on the rise and offers a fitting backdrop for this exploration of increasingly anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim time in the U.S.

Set against the backdrop of the terror attacks in Paris and the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign, MAINE GIRLS follows 13 teenage girls at South Portland High School over an eight-week program of face-to-face encounters as they learn about each other, healthy eating, and hip hop. The girls, hailing from the Congo, Jamaica, Somalia, Vietnam, and Maine, begin to understand what fuels mistrust, fear and violence against recent immigrants and how to build bridges instead of barriers between different people.

A year later, following the 2016 U.S. Presidential election, the filmmakers re-visit the young women to talk about the changes in their lives, school, community, and the enduring effects of participating in the program. MAINE GIRLS illuminates not just the differences between us, but inspires concrete steps for building understanding and acceptance.


December 6, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 1, 2017

At the Movies: First They Killed My Father (2017)


First They Killed My Father  Released September 2017.  Based on a book by the same title.

In the 70's, a Cambodian middle-class girl sees the lives of her family and her turning upside-down when the Khmer Rouge invades the Cambodia. They leave their comfortable apartment and lifestyle to live in a primitive working camp. Her father, a former officer, is killed and the family splits to survive.

Director Angelina Jolie explains in this interview how she was mindful of the emotions that could be evoked by the scenes she was re-creating to film "First They Killed My Father" in Cambodia. 

Here is a review in Time.


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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Hollywood Goes DACA


Huffington Post reports that, since President Trump’s September decision to end DACA, Hollywood actor Bambadjan Bamba has been preparing for his coming out.

The actor had not publicly revealed his immigration status, but yesterday he joined a campaign to legalize immigrants like him, becoming the public face of DACA recipients working in Hollywood. Known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program granted temporary resident status to an estimated 800,000 immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.

November 30, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Immigrant of the Day: Actress Eiza Gonzalez (Mexico)


Born in Mexico, Eiza González Reyna is an actress and singer. In 2007, she gained popularity for her debut role as "Lola" in the Mexican teen-oriented musical telenovela Lola...Érase una vez. She currently plays Santanico Pandemonium on the television show From Dusk till Dawn: The Series

Gonzalez appeared as "Darling" in the action film Baby Driver, released in 2017.


González moved to Los Angeles, California in 2013 to further pursue her acting career.


November 26, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Casablanca on its 75th Anniversary


The 1942 film classic "Casablanca” — set in WWII and filled with immigration and refugee themes -- is celebrating its 75th anniversary.  It ends as Rick (Humphrey Bogart) and Capt. Renault (Claude Rains) walked into the misty night on their way to a Free French garrison and “a beautiful friendship.”

Charles Wolfe, a UC Santa Barbara professor of film and media studies, opines on the film, its meaning, and modern relevance in this article.  For an NPR story on the film's anniversary, click here.




November 23, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, November 19, 2017




On the Comedy Channel, comedian Jeff Ross takes a special look at immigration and the border.  CNN reports on the special, which primarily includes footage from his time in Brownsville, Texas, a town on the frontline of the immigration debate.  Ross dives into an issue that remains front of mind for many as the Trump administration takes steps to reform U.S. immigration policies.   Ross speaks to residents of a town that is already home to a wall meant to curtail illegal crossings, law enforcement who are witness to a daily influx of immigrants, and even some people fresh from their journey across the border, including a father-son pair and a pregnant woman.

"Jeff Ross Roasts the Border: Live from Brownsville, Texas" aired on November 16.


November 19, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

The Problem With Apu: Racial Stereotyping and The Simpsons



Comedian Hari Kondabolu, the creator and star of the feature-length documentary The Problem with Apu, confronts his long standing “nemesis” Apu Nahasapeemapetilon – better known as the Indian convenience store owner on The Simpsons. Through this comedic cultural exposé, Kondabolu questions how this controversial caricature was created, burrowed its way into the hearts and minds of Americans and continues to exist – intact – twenty-eight years later.

The Problem with Apu premieres on tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on TruTV.

The Hollywood Review has a review of The Problem with Apu.  Here is a part of the review:

"If nothing else, truTV's new documentary The Problem with Apu, written by and starring comic Hari Kondabolu, has probably quashed any desire to bring up caveats in my hypothetical response. A brisk discourse on hegemony and representational inequality, The Problem with Apu lays out its thesis against the character's acceptability in 2017 (to say nothing of 1989) with such clarity it's hard to imagine it generating an adversarial response more cogent than that hoary classic "It's a joke, stop taking it so seriously," which is no response at all.

The problem with The Problem with Apu is that, at 49 minutes, it's half a film. Directed by Michael Melamedoff, The Problem with Apu makes its primary case, has a couple of talking heads including Kondabolu admit they aren't sure what can or should be done, and ends abruptly and frustratingly.

That case can be summed up simply: Although representation of South Asian actors and characters has increased and improved on television and in movies in recent years, it's still relatively minuscule and when The Simpsons premiered, South Asian characters were basically nonexistent. So for the one prominent South Asian character on TV to be a frequently deceitful convenience store proprietor with a cartoonish Indian accent voiced by a white guy? That's bad. It's bad for a generation of South Asian children growing up and seeing only that one representation of their culture and having fellow kids judge them based upon it. It's bad for the older generation that had their immigrant experience represented in only this one way on TV for millions or maybe even billions of viewers. It's just bad."


November 19, 2017 in Books, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

This News Anchor Just Broke A Major Barrier For Afro-Latina Journalists

Monday, November 6, 2017

Shameless and Immigration Raids as Comedic Foils in the Trump Era



For you pop culture watchers, last night was the season premiere of the Showtime show "Shameless," which is in fact shameless.  Immigration -- and Immigration and Customs Enforcement --  featured prominently in the opening episode.  First, there is a raid at the restaurant where Fiona works with the cooks and dishwashers fleeing the workplace.  Later, one of the main characters, the ever-popular "V" attempts to get her bar back from Svetlana, an immigrant from Russia, by having her arrested by telling ICE officers that the bar owner is the ringleader of a Russian human-trafficking and prostitution ring.  Such serious allegations were the only thing that got ICE's attention.  The next thing you know, ICE raids the bar.  V feels triumphant and Svetlana faces likely removal from the United States.  


November 6, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Special Casablanca Exhibit at the International Museum of World War II

Sunday, November 5, 2017

An Immigrant Success Story: In Cambodia Town, a community moves from survival to success


A nice counter-story to those being told by President Trump about immigrants, the Los Angeles Times has an insightful story about a settlement of Cambodian refugees in Southern California.  Many of the refugees fled the infamous “killing fields,” the five-year campaign of terror and genocide in the 1970s that left nearly 2 million Cambodians dead.

About 50,000 people of Cambodian descent live in Long Beach (not far from Los Angeles), the largest diaspora of Cambodian people outside of that country.  In 2007, city leaders dubbed the 1.2-mile stretch of Anaheim Street where many of them settled "Cambodia Town."

The story reports on the ups-and-downs of refugees adapting to a new land after fleeing horrendous violence in their homeland.  That adaptation is not always smooth.




November 5, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, November 3, 2017

At the Movies: 10 Must-See Immigration Related Movies

Buzzfeed has this top 10 list of movies that offer important insights on immigration.


Number 1 is Coming to America with Eddie Murphy.  A young Eddie Murphy plays Akeem Joffer, a crown prince from the fictional African country of Zamunda. Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, John Amos, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Samuel L. Jackson also appear in this comedy classic.


2. In America


3. The Kite Runner


4. Babel


5. Crash

Set over a 36-hour period in Los Angeles, this is another multi-narrative film with an even larger ensemble cast. One of the characters featured is immigrant shop owner Farhad, portrayed by Shaun Toub, who also appears in The Kite Runner (#3). Crash won Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Film Editing at the Oscars in 2006. 

6. House of Sand and Fog     
7. The Visitor
A professor finds an undocumented immigrant couple living in his New York City apartment and decides to let them stay. Richard Jenkins was nominated for an Academy Award in 2009 for his role as the professor, Walter.
This is a wonderful film showing how a university professor befriends undocumented immigrants and learns about the modern U.S. immigration detention and removal system. 
8. Entre Nos
Originally setting out to reunite her family, a Colombian immigrant attempts to survive in New York City with her two children.
 9. Lost Boys of Sudan
A feature-length documentary film about the journey of two young Sudanese refugees as they flee civil war and adjust to American culture.
10. The Godfather: Part II
One of the greatest films ever made is anchored by the immigration story of the young Vito Corleone. In a series of flashbacks, we see Vito fleeing Sicily as a kid, arriving at Ellis Island, struggling as a new immigrant, and establishing the Corleone family. This cinematic masterpiece was nominated for 11 Oscars, and won 6 at the ceremony in 1975, including Best Supporting Actor for Robert De Niro's portrayal of Young Vito Corleone.
 One of the greatest films ever made is anchored by the immigration story of the young Vito Corleone. In a series of flashbacks, we see Vito fleeing Sicily as a kid, arriving at Ellis Island, struggling as a new immigrant, and establishing the Corleone family. This cinematic masterpiece was nominated for 11 Oscars, and won 6 at the ceremony in 1975, including Best Supporting Actor for Robert De Niro's portrayal of Young Vito Corleone.

November 3, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Latinos (Over) Portrayed as Criminals on Television, Study Finds


Courtesy of CBS

Hollywood Reporter reports that Define American, the immigration nonprofit founded by Pulitzer-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, has released its first-ever media reference guide for writers, directors and producers.

Immigrants and Immigration: A Guide for Entertainment Professionals is a 19-page brief that defines key terms (“blanket waiver,” “mixed-status family”) and breaks down current key issues in immigration law, including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the U visa for victims of violent crimes.

In addition to the guide, Define American has released a scorecard on the state of immigration representation on television, taken from The Opportunity Agenda’s study of 40 popular broadcast, cable and streaming shows that aired between April 2014 and June 2016. That report found that immigrants were underrepresented with just 6 percent of roles in the sampling (while comprising 17 percent of the U.S. population). However, they are overrepresented as criminals, with half of Latino and a quarter of Middle Eastern immigrant characters shown engaging in criminal activity. In real life, U.S. census and American Community Survey data has found that immigrant males between the ages of 18 and 39 are approximately half as likely to be incarcerated as their native-born counterparts.



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

Sunday, October 29, 2017

At the Movies: The Foreigner (2017)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Now Streaming: Alias Grace

The Handmaiden's Tale wasn't Margaret Atwood's only novel. Netflix has just released a miniseries based on another of Atwood's works: Alias Grace. Here's the trailer:

Alias Grace tells the story of Grace Marks, "a 19th-century Irish immigrant and servant who became a celebrity 'murderess' in Toronto." The story confronts 19th century issues of "anti-immigrant sentiment, abortion and class warfare" -- things that seem scarily modern today. Indeed, the writer who adapated Atwood's novel for the small screen wrote of the lead character's "harsh crossing from Ireland with recent migrant crises in mind."

Atwood herself sees the work as a cautionary tale: “We are at a moment in history when some parts of North America are trying to turn the clock back, and if they want to turn it back, what do they want to turn it back to?”


October 28, 2017 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

NYT Mini Documentary: Training Your (Overseas) Replacement

In the past few years, there has been a lot of coverage of American workers being asked to train the foreign workers taking over their jobs. Remember Disney?

This NYT documentary is a little different. It's about an entire plant moving overseas and the American workers being asked to train the workers at the new Mexico plant.

As such, it's not as strictly immprof-y as the Disney H1B tale. Nevertheless, it's worth watching the 14 minute film. It manages to capture the same conflicts (should I train my replacement and get paid? Or would doing so make me complicit in an immoral endeavor?) with real emotional impact.


October 25, 2017 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)