FEMINIST FRIDAY: Films And Videos Showing How Immigration And Diversity Is Our Strength

‘Collisions’ still image | Photo: Frazer Bradshaw

Welcome to another Feminist Friday column! That part of the week where we share a handful of our fave videos right now, centered around an intersectional feminist theme. We have covered the gamut over the past couple of years including art, music, podcasts, books and documentaries. This week it’s all about diversity and immigration, showing how these issues become a source of strength in society, despite the negative rhetoric we too often hear in media or politics

First up we have the trailer to a few feature narrative film called ‘Collisions’ from writer/director Richard Levien, who originally hails from New Zealand and now calls the United States his home. This award-winning film reveals the devastating impact of U.S. immigration policy on one family when the mother is detained by ICE. 

When twelve-year-old Itan (Izabella Alvarez), a straight-A-student in San Francisco, comes home from school, she is stunned to find their furniture up-ended, and no trace of her mother, Yoana (Ana de la Reguera), who was detained by ICE. Child Protective Services dumps Itan and her six-year-old brother Neto (Jason Garcia) with their estranged uncle Evencio (Jesse Garcia), a big rig truck driver. Itan can’t stand him. He’s arrogant, unreliable, and possibly a criminal. After a desperate search, Itan locates Yoana in an immigration detention center in Arizona and convinces Evencio to take them there.

They are propelled onto the road in Evencio’s truck, through the maddening labyrinth of immigration detention. Itan fights to free her mother before she is deported. But her mother keeps slipping from her grasp, as she is transferred from prison to prison. Their journey takes them through the deserts of the southern border, to sprawling truck stops, border patrol offices and secret immigration prisons.

In a press release, the director talks about his personal connection to the subject matter and why he made this film: “When I began work on the script, my wife was a third grade teacher, and a child in her class recently had her father taken away and deported. It took weeks of building trust to find out why this girl, previously bright and engaged in class, was suddenly listless and prone to anger or tears at the slightest provocation. I interviewed her as part of my research. Her sadness, but also her bravery, hit me in the gut in a way that no headline or statistic ever could. Immigration recently became one of the most urgent topics. The policies of U.S. President Trump constantly thrust immigration into the headlines, but there is not so much media attention given to the real families affected by these policies. As Trump has ended the DACA (Delayed Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Delayed Action for Parents of Americans) programs, it is now up to Congress to enact legislation to protect the people previously covered by these programs. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of families continue to be forcibly separated every year, both at the border and in our cities and towns. I hope this film can help to foster a greater empathy for families who are wrenched apart in this way. As an immigrant myself, I share the story of all immigrants – that of moving away from home in search of a better life, in search of opportunity. So I’m drawn very strongly to stories of immigration.”

“Collisions” Trailer from Richard Levien on Vimeo.

Our second video features Pakistani-American college student Madiha Faisal who recently took a trip to the mother land with the American Fellowship Program of the U.S Embassy in Pakistan. As part of her trip she focused on empowering local rural women and made a video talking about why it was important to her.

Listen to her describe working with women entrepreneurs, the places she visited, and her love of Pakistani handicrafts. Madiha is also affiliated with the Cyvia and Melvyn Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, Bauer College of Business, at the University of Houston as a Student Entrepreneur.

Madiha’s passion for embracing her culture and allowing more Americans to see what life is like for rural Pakistani women is serving to bridge a seemingly widening empathy gap right now when it comes to different countries and cultures. Often what makes us fear the “other” is having no reference point and only believing the negativity that gets hyped up in media. Madiha’s video shows that when we strip away all the rhetoric, ultimately we as humans want very similar things: to have purpose in our lives, to support our families, and to be empowered in both of those areas.

The final video this week comes from the acclaimed director of ‘Wadjda’, the first female-driven film to come out of Saudi Arabia, from the first-ever female Saudi Arabian director. Haifaa Al-Mansour is back with a new film which screened at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival called ‘The Perfect Candidate’. Haifaa is a barrier breaker on a number of levels, and this film is the first to be supported by the Arab kingdom’s new national film organization, the Saudi Film Council, according to Variety.

The LA-based, Saudi director brings a timely and insightful story that speaks to the current rising tide of women running for office globally, as well as the historical announcement of Saudi Arabian women being allowed to vote and run for office for the first time in 2015.

‘The Candidate’ is a comedic drama about a young female physician who maneuvers through her conservative, male-dominated society to run in municipal elections. The film’s Saudi protagonist (played by newcomer Mila Alzahrani) is frustrated after being turned back at the airport because her travel permission from her male guardian isn’t up to date. She then embarks on an absurd campaign that juggles strict social norms, gender segregation and the influence of her eccentric family. She is the town’s first female candidate and has to balance all the struggles and pushback that comes with that role.

The film has been screening at various prestigious global film festivals, but keep an eye on this one as we have no doubt it will resonate with many audiences, especially women as we gear up for the 2020 US Presidential election with the hope of electing the first female POTUS. Watch the trailer below:

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  1. Pingback: FEMINIST FRIDAY: 3 Female-Lead Podcasts To Help You In The Lead Up To The 2020 Election - Part 1 - GirlTalkHQ

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