Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Binging During the Pandemic: Stateless with Cate Blanchett on Netflix



Cate Blanchett

Are you running low on Netflix material to binge in the time of the global pandemic?  Here is a series for immigration junkies.  Stateless in a nutshell: "Four strangers — a woman on the run, a brave refugee, a driven bureaucrat and a struggling dad — intersect at an Australian immigration detention center. Starring:Yvonne Strahovski, Jai Courtney, Cate Blanchett."

Here is a description of the series from Judy Berman at Time:

"Though immigrant stories abound in the Trump era, American TV has yet to perform such a thorough dissection of our immigration system. The next best thing is Stateless, an emotional look at Australia’s similar human-rights crisis from creators Cate Blanchett, Tony Ayres and Elise McCredie that is inspired in part by the real scandal of Australian permanent resident Cornelia Rau’s unlawful detention in the early 2000s. What’s remarkable is how broad a picture the miniseries, which comes to Netflix on July 8, manages to create in just six episodes featuring a handful of characters."

Luke Buckmaster for The Guardian offers another positive review.


July 7, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, July 3, 2020

Now Streaming: Hamilton

Hamilton, the Broadway hit, is now streaming on Disney+. The movie features the original cast. Woot. Woot.

Disney+ costs $6.99/mo. That's not nothing, but consider this: The platform has Star Wars content (including the Disney+ original The Mandalorian which is aces), the Avengers content and, my kids would point out, the entire Simpsons catalogue. Remember, we're still stuck in the age of quarantine. Treat yourself.

After you screen the movie, why not kick back with Hamilton and the Law, which includes essays by immprofs Liz Keyes and Anil Kalhan!


July 3, 2020 in Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 2, 2020

At the Movies: RUN - The Athlete Refugee Team Story

RUN - The Athlete Refugee Team Story is a new documentary film that, as Forbes characterizes it, focuses on "the unwavering human spirit" of refugees from Syria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, all working to compete in the Tokyo Olympics as part of the Athlete Refugee Team.

The whole movie (1:23:20) is currently available on youtube. Here's just a small sampler:


July 2, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, June 5, 2020

Immigrant of the Day: Yvonne Orji

Tomorrow night is the premiere of Yvonne Orji's new HBO comedy special: Momma, I Made It!

Orji is a comedian and actress, known for her role on HBO's hit show Insecure. She was born in Nigeria, grew up in Maryland, and, fascinatingly, got her Masters in Public Health from GW before pursuing her career in Hollywood.

As I said, you can catch her new show on HBO tomorrow. And you can read this NYT article to learn more about her life. Or consider a pre-order of her autobiography, Bamboozled by Jesus: How God Tricked Me into the Life of My Dreams, coming February 2021.


June 5, 2020 in Books, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

At the Movies: Capernum

Looking for a movie to watch at home while you continue to self-isolate as much as possible? Try Capernum. This 2018 film has a whopping 90% rating from Rotten Tomatoes. It's available for rent from all the major sites (Amazon, Youtube) and looks like it might also be found on Hulu if you've got a subscription.

Here's the film description:

Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, Nadine Labaki's CAPERNAUM ("Chaos") tells the story of Zain (Zain al Rafeea), a Lebanese boy who sues his parents for the "crime" of giving him life. CAPERNAUM follows Zain, a gutsy streetwise child as he flees his negligent parents, survives through his wits on the streets, takes care of Ethiopian refugee Rahil (Yordanos Shiferaw) and her baby son, Yonas (Boluwatife Treasure Bankole), being jailed for a crime, and finally, seeks justice in a courtroom. CAPERNAUM was made with a cast of non-professionals playing characters whose lives closely parallel their own

The film's star, Zain Al Rafeea, is a Syrian refugee. He fled with his family to Lebanon in 2012, where he was cast in this film. In 2018, his family resettled in Norway. You can next catch him in the upcoming Marvel flick The Eternals.

Check out this breathtaking trailer:


June 3, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Women and Migration 4-part webinar

Women have been part of global and historical movements of people, to escape war, to avoid persecution, for work, for security. Women have been uprooted, stolen, trafficked, enslaved; they have been displaced from land despoiled of resources and habitats lost to extreme weather patterns and climate change. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, displaced women can neither stay put nor return to the places from which they have fled; women are unequally in low-paid, high-risk, insecure “essential” employment, on the front lines of crisis; women are subjected to increasing violence, in domestic situations or the temporary and communal living arrangements in which women and girls in migratory situations are sheltered. 

My law school alma mater NYU will host a four part webinar on women and migration featuring NYU Tisch's Deb Willis and Ellyn Toscano with Cheryl Finley of Spelman's AUC Art Collective. The four part series will explore the importance of photography, art, film, history, law, policy and writing in identifying and remembering these migratory experiences. 

  • June 3  a general discussion of the issues of women and migrations, through a multiplicity of disciplinary perspectives.
  • June 10 COVID and other crises 
  • June 17 memoir
  • June 24 art

This event is free and open to everyone. Registration is required in order to receive log-in info.


June 3, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 1, 2020

The Immigrant Experience: A Conversation with the Executive Producers of Little America

A Conversation with Lee Elsenberg, Kumail Nanjiani, and Emily V. Gordon will be offered as a Washington Post livestream on Jun 2, 2020 at 1pm ET. It is free but requires pre-registration. The event description says:

The lives of immigrants in the U.S. have long driven national mythology and political discourse – today is no exception. What can be lost are the intimate narratives of love, loss and triumph that connect and inspire us. “Little America” is a new Apple TV+ anthology series that dramatizes true stories of immigrants across the country. Join the executive producers and writers Lee Eisenberg, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon for a conversation with Washington Post opinions writer Jonathan Capehart on Tuesday, June 2 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
A trailer for the show appears here.

June 1, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Your Thursday Funny: BBC's Where Are You From? The Game

This. Is. Amazing.

I inadvertently played this game at a wedding once. I was chatting with a young person and asked where they were from. I was looking for "Fargo" or "Bismarck" (we lived in Grand Forks, ND at the time) but got Nigeria. After explaining my confusion, it turns out the guest was, actually, from Fargo. Those Fargo-ites do stand apart.


May 28, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

GLOW: Netflix show about '80s women wrestlers tackles immigration, genocide

Screen Shot 2020-05-27 at 9.26.46 PM

I love the Neflix series GLOW. If you haven't tried it yet, the show is about a group of women who put on a wrestling show in the 1980s. It is fabulous.

The show is a mix of funny and dramatic. There are story lines about sexual harassment, parenthood, infertility, divorce, working moms, and sexual orientation, among other heady topics. All this with 80s hair and wardrobe.

The episode that recently caught my eye was Season 3, Episode 6: Outward Bound. Immprofs might want to check out 26:13-29:16

If you're only going to watch those few minutes, let me give you a brief background. The central players in this scene are Jackie Tohn (who plays Melanie Rosen) and Ellen Wong (who plays Jenny Chey). The two are former best friends, currently on the outs because the Jewish Tohn/Rosen impersonated the wrestling character of Wong/Chey, complete with a fake Asian accent.

Tohn has just told several of the wrestlers the story of Passover, with plenty of humor. But at 26:13 the mood changes. 

Tohn/Rosen: Well, I mean, trauma and mass oppression are still a pretty recent story for my people. Ever hear of a little thing called the holocaust?

Noel/Bang: OK, Let's just call it a night.

Tohn/Rosen: What, you'd rather I just joked around? Just joked, not really get into the trauma that's behind all the shit we don't want to talk about. How my aunt Pestle and her eight children died in Treblinka or how my dad, my dad, won't live in a house without a basement or an attic in case we have to hide again.

Wong/Chey: We hid on a boat. We were pretty lucky. My dad, he uh, he knew somebody at the embassy so we got one of the last flights out on a US military plane that had just dropped off all this rice. My dad's brother was with us. But, everyone else we knew died. Every relative. Every friend. Everyone. So, I understand what it's like to survive a genocide and not talk about it all the time. The Killing Fields. It's the whole reason I'm even here in the first place. I get to be one of the lucky ones. Like really, really really lucky. Now I'm jumping out of a fortune cookie every night pretending like everything's fine.

Tohn/Rosen: I am so sorry. I had no idea. I'm so so so so sorry.

Entertainment weekly has a wonderful interview with Tohn about the genesis of this scene. As it turns out, Tohn's mother is a first-generation Holocaust survivor and Wong's parents survived the Cambodian genocide. The actresses discovered their shared history of trauma at a Seder. And the two approached the writers about incorporating their stories into the show. Pestle is the name of Tohn's great aunt who was murdered with her family in 1939.

The moment on the show was incredibly powerful even before I knew it came from the actresses' own lives. It's a deeply moving scene that dramatically showcases the connection and effects of "trauma and mass oppression."


May 27, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

One Video, Shot in 11 Countries, Lets 50 Musicians Perform in Solidarity with Fellow Refugees and Migrants



Músicos venezolanos interpretan Algo está pasando - R4V (Español)

One Video, Shot in 11 Countries, Lets 50 Musicians Perform in Solidarity with Fellow Refugees and Migrants


May 27, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 25, 2020

Freedom University Premieres Music Video! "Señor Presidente"


Freedom University Premieres Music Video! "Señor Presidente"

"Señor Presidente" (Mr. President) is a folk song in the son jarocho music tradition from Veracruz, México. Students, faculty, staff, and friends of Freedom University collaborated virtually during the Coronavirus pandemic to make this music video for their final Spring 2020 class project.

Each Freedom University student wrote and sang their own verse for this traditional son, "Señor Presidente," which is known for its sharp political satire. Freedom University's son jarocho ensemble "Son de Sueños" is taught by Professor Eduardo García and Professor Laura Emiko Soltis.

Every musician in this video is a first or second generation immigrant from Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, or Uruguay.

Guitarra de Son….... Christopher Mena
Jarana……............... Eduardo García
Violin……….............. Laura Emiko Soltis
Leona……................ Ernesto Orozco Jr.
Zapateado..............  Carolina Martinez, Laura Emiko Soltis
Vocals……............... Eduardo, Simi, Sofia, Deicy, Mateo, Arizbeth, Leo, Emiko

Alex Mascorro, Sound Engineering and Video Editing
Mascorro Productions, Inc.

Please share widely with your networks to amplify the beautiful voices of undocumented youth in Georgia!

Support Arts Education at Freedom U!


May 25, 2020 in Film & Television, Music | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 15, 2020

Trump administration weighs suspending program for foreign students,


The Trump administration is considering suspending the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, an incentive for foreign students to attend universities in the U.S. by offering them one or two years of occupational training between college and full-time employment, report Julia Ainsley and Laura Strickler for NBC News. Both business and academic communities are fighting the proposal: “International students contribute nearly $41 billion a year to the U.S. economy,” said Julie Schmid, executive director of the American Association of University Professors. “Our campuses and our communities benefit from the contributions international students make to education and research. This move does nothing to ensure the health of U.S. citizens during the COVID crisis.”


May 15, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, May 14, 2020

At the Movies: Immigrant Heroes


Nonprofit film studio Brave New Films has released a new short video called "Immigrant Heroes" about individuals who, despite being actively insulted and targeted by the president, have felt called to serve their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the essential workers critical to the U.S.'s frontline COVID-19 response are DACA recipients or Temporary Protected Status holders. 

The video features: Manny Perlera, an EMT in New York City, an epicenter of the pandemic; Jose Ruiz, MSW, a social worker who founded an urban agriculture farm in Los Angeles feeding those who would go hungry during the pandemic; Jesus Contreras, a paramedic and a DACA recipient in Houston currently working on the frontlines of Houston's COVID-19 outbreak. All of these individuals are Temporary Protected Status holders. 

16.5% of all healthcare workers in the United States are immigrants, and as many as nearly half of the almost 1.2 million DACA-eligible immigrants in the country are essential workers, according to the New American Economy Research Fund. These frontline workers, and others like them, deserve to be protected by those in power as they protect us every day. Immigration status should not determine whether anyone is able to access aid and support due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


May 14, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

50+ programs for Asian American Heritage Month

There are many TV, movie, and  media programs rolling out for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. In addition to the highly anticipated Asian Americans (5-part documentary airing tonight on PBS and first mentioned in yesterday's immigrationprof blog), the Center for Asian American Media is sponsoring 50 more programs on World Channel. Highlights include:

  • America ReFramed: Jaddoland (CAAM Documentary Fund recipient), which takes a fresh look at the American immigrant story of a daughter exploring her mother’s art and its connections to her new life in Texas. Director Nadia Shihab  presents a unique picture of how art can help both the creator and the audience make sense of familial and cultural connections, loss, perseverance and getting on with life. Jaddoland premieres on World Channel May 12 at 8pm ET. Streaming: May 12, 2020 – May 11, 2021
  • Drawn Together: Comics, Diversity and Stereotypes (CAAM Media Fund recipient) traces the fascinating journey of three comic creators who challenge race, religious and gender stereotypes through cartoons, comics and cosplay—the practice of inhabiting a character. Creator’s Keith Knight, Vishavjit Singh and Eileen Alden channel their anger and frustration about intolerance and discrimination by spreading a more positive message through their artistry. Premieres Sunday, May 3 on World Channel at 10pm ET and will also be available for streaming on the World Channel’s YouTube channel for the month of May.
  • America ReFramed: 9-Man is a competitive Chinese American sport with roots that trace back to the Toisan region of Guangdong province. In North America, the game — akin to volleyball — was a way for Chinese workers to escape the drudgery of menial labor during an era of extreme discrimination. This film, a CAAM Documentary Fund recipient, shows how 9-Man provides a lasting connection to culture and community pride for players who know a different, more integrated America. Airs Tuesday, May 26 on WORLD Channel at 7pm ET.  Streaming: May 1 – June 30.
  • America ReFramed: Nailed It introduces the workers behind the $8 billion manicure economy. In 1975, nail salons offered Vietnamese war refugees a pathway to financial independence and the American dream. In turn, the salons offer a space for “me-time,” community gathering and affordable luxury for people of diverse social and economic backgrounds. Along the way, filmmaker Adele Pham learns about and develops a closer connection to the Vietnamese side of her heritage. Airs Tuesday, May 26 on WORLD Channel at 9pm ET. Streaming: May 26 – June 25.


May 12, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 11, 2020

Asian Americans on PBS

Tonight on PBS, you can catch the premiere of Asian Americans. It's a five-episode history series covering exclusion, internment, model minority-ism, and refugees, among other compelling topics. Check out this teaser:


May 11, 2020 in Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 4, 2020



Before the COVID-19 outbreak, VICE’s Paola Ramos traveled to the largest refugee camp on the U.S.-Mexico border to hear from asylum seekers, lawyers and doctors grappling with the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. “In the absence of governmental aid, migrants have been relying on a network of NGOs and volunteers to provide services in the camp. We meet Cuban doctor Dairon Elisondo Rodriguez, a fellow asylee, who treats patients while he waits for his asylum hearing, and we follow a group of mothers hoping to cross the border to bring their medically high-risk children to safety.”


May 4, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

At the Movies: The Infiltrators


MV5BYjMzNDdkYzAtMTE1ZC00N2VjLWIyY2ItMzViMGVkNTQ4MDE2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjU1NzU3MzE@._V1_UX182_CR0 0 182 268_AL_ (1)


In the movie, The Infiltrators, which can be streamed online, "A rag-tag group of undocumented youth - Dreamers - deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center."  Here is a bit more detailed synopsis from the film's website:

"THE INFILTRATORS is a docu-thriller that tells the true story of young immigrants who get arrested by Border Patrol, and put in a shadowy for-profit detention center – on purpose.   Marco and Viri are members of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, a group of radical Dreamers who are on a mission to stop deportations. And the best place to stop deportations, they believe, is in detention.  However, when Marco and Viri try to pull off their heist – a kind of ‘prison break’ in reverse – things don’t go according to plan.

By weaving together documentary footage of the real infiltrators with scripted re-enactments of the events inside the detention center, THE INFILTRATORS tells this incredible true story in a boundary-crossing new cinematic language.  The Hollywood Reporter said of the multiple award-winning film `rather than feeling like homework, watching it is a thrill.'”

Mark Olson for the Los Angeles Times says this about the film:  "With `The Infiltrators' there is an audacity, an unrestrained boldness, to both the events depicted onscreen and the way in which they are portrayed in the movie itself. A documentary-fiction hybrid directed by Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra, the film won both prizes in its section when it premiered at Sundance in 2019 and was the opening-night film of last year’s Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival.  . . . . A group of young undocumented immigration activists realize one of their best lines of protest and change is from within a Florida detention center. So instead of being afraid, they get sent there on purpose and proceed to fight from the inside to get others out. (And that’s all true!) Much of what is shown outside the walls of the detention facility is genuine documentary footage of young people working relentlessly to organize, while what is seen inside was re-created on a set with actors."

Peter Debruge for Variety also reviews the film.  


May 4, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 24, 2020

Immigrant of the Day: Antoni Porowski


Antoni Porowski is a Quebecois chef and television personality who you may recognize from the Netflix hit reboot of Queer Eye. His parents migrated to Canada from Poland (along with Antoni's sisters) before he was born. And Antoni has moved between Canada and the U.S. throughout his life.

Antoni had a super relatable immigrant moment during Season 1 of Queer Eye, Episode 3 ("Dega Don't"). The Fab Five got pulled over by a police officer while driving around Georgia. They're all clearly stressed when the officer asks the driver (not Antoni) for his license, which the driver was unable to produce. (Interjection: Really? You're driving a car! Even if it's for TV. Whatever.) Anyhoo, when it all turns out to be a gimmick -- the police officer was the nominator of the week, Antoni exclaims in relief: "I thought I was going back to Canada!"

And if you're looking for a feel-good quarantine show, I highly recommend Queer Eye. It's refreshing to watch a show that leaves you feeling your faith in humanity restored. It's a nice antidote to my over-consumption of news.

(And, yes, Tan fans... DO expect another QE immigrant of the day nod in the future!)


April 24, 2020 in Film & Television, Food and Drinks | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 23, 2020

At the Movies: Cover/Age




On April 29 at 2pm PST / 5pm EST, the California Immigrant Policy Center, Center for Cultural Power, National Domestic Workers Alliance, United We Dream, and Working Films will host an online screening and discussion of

The short documentary film by Set Hernandez Rongkilyo and the California Immigrant Policy Center examines the lack of healthcare access for undocumented immigrants in California and how two undocumented individuals are advocating to fight this exclusion. 

Set against the backdrop of California’s Health4All campaign, COVER/AGE follows two leaders who have been championing the immigrant health justice movement in the Golden State - an elderly caregiver who has spent over a decade taking care of senior citizens, in spite of being ineligible for the same services she provides, and a long-time
community advocate who has been organizing directly impacted people towards policy change at the intersection of immigrant, health, and gender justice.


April 23, 2020 in Current Affairs, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

From The Bookshelves (and at the movies): The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon


I just finished reading Nicola Yoon's novel The Sun is Also a Star. Here's the Amazon write-up:

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.
Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.
The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

It was an enjoyable read. And, I just learned, enough people agreed with that assessment to turn this YA love story into a movie:


April 14, 2020 in Books, Film & Television | Permalink | Comments (0)