Recent Films Feature Migration Themes

[1] Four new films offer penetrating and personal looks into various aspects of migration, deepening our understanding of migrant worker vulnerability, environmental destruction from continued wall building, the courageous work of Dreamers, and the shocking and complex violence driving families to flee Guadalupe, Mexico.

[2] The Infiltrators is the provocative and uplifting story of Dreamers who courageously enter private detention facilities to assist detainees who are at risk of deportation.  The Dreamers work to help the detainees get released and reunited with their families instead of being deported. The Dreamers do this by functioning not as lawyers, but as organizers.  They bring the cases into the media and apply public pressure.  The suspense of each case keeps the viewer on the edge of one’s seat as we experience vicariously, for example, the tension faced by a detainee who refuses to board the plane in order to give her legal case adequate time to proceed. Melding documentary footage together with reenactments, the film takes the viewer into a world of brave and creative activism, inspiring a desire to look for new and edgy ways to protect vulnerable detainees. It is unlike anything you have ever seen! This film was produced by Christina Ibarra, Darren Dean, Daniel J. Chalton, directed by Alex Rivera and Christina Ibarra, USA, 2019, English/ Spanish with subtitles, 90 minutes.

[3] The US economy benefits from the labor of countless undocumented persons. Building the American Dream is the story of the building boom in Texas, especially in the Dallas area where undocumented construction workers help to actualize the American dreams of others and in the process are exploited by building firms who withhold wages, place workers in dangerous conditions, and fail to respond when they are injured. A local worker’s rights organization helps workers pursue their claims against the companies. The film follows several workers and their cases to successful completion. The vulnerability that these undocumented workers experience demonstrates the need for an immigration system that allows people to come out of the shadows so that they can work without the fear of deportation if they claim their rights as workers. This film was produced by Chelsea Hernandez and Marisol Medrano Montoya, directed by Chelsea Hernandez, USA, 2019, English/Spanish with subtitles, 75 minutes.

[4] The Guardian of Memory documents the destruction of Guadalupe, a small Mexican town invaded by cartels and federal authorities. Stories of individuals are recounted by survivors. Background about these stories comes from an immigration lawyer, Carlos Spector from El Paso who represented the families in their US asylum cases. Spector’s commitment to social justice shines through. The complexity of the state actors and connections to cartels paint a compelling narrative of the effect of violence in one community. Survivors who now live in physical safety in the US, long for home in Mexico.  These asylees know, however, that they cannot return safely. Hearing their compelling stories and feeling their pain, makes this movie difficult to watch, but it is an extraordinary window into the multifaceted violence that drives many people to migrate. This film was produced by Fabian Hofman, directed by Marcel Arteaga, Mexico, 2019, Spanish with Subtitles, 93 minutes

[5] What will be the impact of a border wall in the Rio Grande valley? The River and the Wall follows a group that journeyed from El Paso to the Gulf of Mexico on the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, sometimes in boats, sometimes on horses and sometimes on foot to get a first hand look at the fierce beauty and wild ruggedness of the region and to consider the effect of building a wall. The group of travelers includes an environmental specialist, a eco-tour guide, a wildlife specialist and the son of a migrant. Again, a great film that should be required viewing for all of us, no matter our opinion about a border wall. This film produced by Hilary Pierce and directed by Ben Masters, USA, 2019, English/ Spanish with subtitles, 120 minutes.

[6] Check out opportunities to view these films online!

Mary Campbell

Mary Campbell serves as Program Director, AMMPARO (Accompanying Migrant Minors with Protection, Advocacy, Representation and Opportunities) in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.