Latino Films About Immigration
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Top Latino Films About Immigration

American Girls:
A Dominican Story
From PBS ( In vivid verité detail, MY AMERICAN GIRLS: A DOMINICAN STORY captures the joys and struggles over a year in the lives of the Ortiz family, first generation immigrants from the Dominican Republic. Matthews' film captures the rewards — and costs — of pursuing the American dream. From hard-working parents, who imagine retiring to their rural homeland, to fast-tracking American-born daughters, caught between their parent's values and their own, the film encompasses the contradictions of contemporary immigrant life. A Latino Public Broadcasting (LPB) Co-presentation.
  From Amazon: An Academy Award nominee for Best Documentary Feature, BALSEROS is the heartrending yet triumphant account of seven Cuban refugees--and their families--who risked their lives to venture towards America's shores on homemade rafts. The Village Voice raves that BALSEROS is an "engrossing documentary" with an "extraordinary sense of recording stories as they unfold!" While Presidents Clinton and Fidel Castro argued over the closing of Cuba's coast in the chaotic summer of 1994, nearly 50,000 "balseros" (a slang term for Cuban rafters) set out toward Florida, navigating the shark-infested waters on vessels made of wood, nails, and tar. The television reporting team of Carles Bosch and Josep M. Domènech began filming this remarkable story over those landmark 15 days. Then, as most of the rafters were picked up by the U.S. Coast Guard, Bosch and Domènech continued to follow their lively cast of characters, some of whom were detained for more than a year at the Guantanamo naval base before finally being allowed onto American soil.
  Without exaggeration, Which Way Home is the most touching depiction of Latino child immigrants. The film follows their harrowing journeys as they try to make it to the U.S.
El Norte. From Amazon: Mayan Indian peasants, tired of being thought of as nothing more than "brazos fuertes" ("strong arms", i.e., manual laborers) and organizing in an effort to improve their lot in life, are discovered by the Guatemalan army. After the army destroys their village and family, a brother and sister, teenagers who just barely escaped the massacre, decide they must flee to "El Norte" ("the North", i.e., the USA). After receiving clandestine help from friends and humorous advice from a veteran immigrant on strategies for traveling through Mexico, they make their way by truck, bus and other means to Los Angeles, where they try to make a new life as young, uneducated, and illegal immigrants.
  From Amazon: Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival, P.O.V. presents FARMINGVILLE, a provocative, complex, and emotionally charged look into the ongoing nationwide controversy surrounding a suburban community, its ever-expanding population of illegal immigrants, and the shockingly hate-based attempted murders of two Mexican day laborers. In the late 1990s, some 1,500 Mexican workers moved to the leafy, middle-class town of Farmingville, population 15,000. In some ways, it’s a familiar American story: an influx of illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico to do work the locals won’t; rising tensions with the Anglo population; charges and counter-charges of lawlessness and racism; protest marches, unity rallies and internet campaigns--then vicious hate crimes that tear the community apart. But this isn’t the story of a California, Texas or other Southwestern city. It’s the endlessly enthralling tale of Farmingville, New York, on Long Island. Sharply and intimately directed by Catherine Tambini and Carlos Sandoval, who moved to Farmingville after the tumultuous clash catapulted the town into national headlines, FARMINGVILLE is an astounding glimpse into an issue that continues to anger, frighten and confuse us.
Maid in America   

From PBS (  MAID IN AMERICA is an intimate, eye-opening look at the lives of las domésticas, as seen through the eyes of Eva, Telma and Judith: three Latina immigrants, each with a very different story, who work as nannies and housekeepers in Los Angeles, California. Filmmakers Anayansi Prado and Kevin Leadingham followed their subjects for several years, and their cameras caught some of the most intimate moments of these women’s lives, both on and off the job.

  The Other Side of Immigration is a unique film, providing a cause and effect perspective regarding immigration.  It is one of the best documentaries about this debate in years.  See:
  Maria Full of Grace.  From Amazon: Maria Alvarez (Catalina Sandino), a bright, spirited 17-year old, lives with three generations of her family in a cramped house in rural Colombia. Desperate to leave her job stripping thorns from flowers in a rose plantation, Maria accepts a lucrative offer to transport packets of heroin-which she must swallow-to the United States. The ruthless world of international drug trafficking proves to be more than Maria bargained for as she becomes ultimately entangled with both drug cartels and immigration officials. The dramatic thriller builds toward a conclusion so powerful and revealing it could only be based on a thousand true stories.
  Mojados.  From Amazon: Director Tommy Davis tags along with four migrants from a small village in Mexico as they leave their families and embark on a 120 mile trek across the deserts of Texas, attempting to evade the U.S. Border Patrol. They must overcome dehydration, hypothermia and come face to face with death.
  Sin Nombre in an intense, disturbing, yet powerful film.  As Amazon indicates, "Winner of directing and cinematography awards at Sundance and produced by Y Tu Mamá También's Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna.


Last Updated: August 03, 2015
Copyright 2006 design and content by John S. Christie and Jose B. Gonzalez
Copyright 2006 Latino Boom: An Anthology of U.S. Latino Literature, Pearson Education, Inc.
Copyright 2006 Latino Fiction and the Modernist Imagination, John S. Christie