Five Films About the Immigrant Experience
With Desierto now in theaters (read the review), and illegal immigration being such a hot topic in the presidential election this year, it seems only right to remember some of the following flicks about the immigrant experience.
Mojados: Through the Night (2004) Director Tommy Davis accompanied four men as they make a 120 mile journey across the Texan desert over the course of 10 days and edited into a 55 minute film. It won the Grand Prize at the San Antonio Underground Festival, Best Documentary at the Santa Fe Film Festival and Arizona International Film Festival, and the Audience Awards at the Kansas International Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival.
Sangre de Mi Sangre (2007) This Argentinean-American thriller tells the story of Pedro (Jorge Adrian Espindola) a young Mexican boy who travels to Brooklyn in search of his long lost father Diego (Jesus Ochoa of Man of Fire and Beverly Hills Chihuahua). But Pedro’s identity is stolen by a young imposter Juan (Armando Hernandez of Fast Food Nation) out to steal Diego’s savings. Pedro then teams up with the streetwise Magda (Paoloa Mendoza from The Undying) as he tries to find his dad. It won the Grand Jury Prize for a Dramatic Film at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for two Independent Spirit Awards.
Frozen River (2008) Courtney Hunt made her debut writing and directing this crime drama. Ray Eddy (Melissa Leo, The Fighter and Prisoners) is a working class mom hoping to purchase a new trailer home. She teams up with Native Hall Bingo Hall employee Lila Littlewolf (Misty Upham from Skins and August: Osage County) in a dangerous business of transporting illegal immigrants from Canada to the U.S. by driving them over the frozen Lawrence River. It won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, Best Female Lead from the Independent Spirit Awards for Melissa Leo, and was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay.
Sin Nombre (2009) Cary Joji Fukanaga (Jane Eyre, Beasts of No Nation, and True Detective) wrote and directed this Mexican adventure thriller. Sayra (Paulina Gaitan who later starred in the cult horror hit We Are What We Are) is a young Honduran girl. Along the way she ends up with two companions Casper (Edgar Flores) and Smiley (Kristyan Ferrer) members of a Mexican street gang seeking to escape the violence. Besides being the film that put Fukanaga on the map it also won awards Best Directing and Excellence in Cinematography at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. (Yep I’m seeing a pattern for movies about immigration and the Sundance Film Festival, too.)
Which Way Home (2009) Rebecca Cammisa received a Fulbright scholarship to direct this documentary that would air on HBO. Cammisa followed several children trying to get from Mexico and Central America to the U.S. on top of a freight train known as “La Bestia.” (The Beast). It won an Emmy Award and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and Academy Award for Best Documentary.
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