Tuesday, July 7, 2020
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.
Friday, July 3, 2020
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!
Thursday, July 2, 2020
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:
Friday, June 5, 2020
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.
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
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:
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.
Monday, June 1, 2020
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.
Thursday, May 28, 2020
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.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
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."
One Video, Shot in 11 Countries, Lets 50 Musicians Perform in Solidarity with Fellow Refugees and Migrants
Monday, May 25, 2020
Freedom University Premieres Music Video! "Señor Presidente"
Friday, May 15, 2020
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.”
Thursday, May 14, 2020
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.
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
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:
Monday, May 11, 2020
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.”
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.
Friday, April 24, 2020
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!)
Thursday, April 23, 2020
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
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: