A project of the Center for Community Change

A New Film Focus on Immigrants

There was a very interesting Op-Ed yesterday about movies and how they focus on immigration and the stories of immigrants.

The representation in American movies of immigrants (and of two close relations, ethnicity and “race”) is practically as old as the movies themselves, from “Birth of a Nation” and Charlie Chaplin’s “The Immigrant” to “Crash” and “Under the Same Moon.” Today, as mass immigration has evolved into a global phenomenon, a growing number of filmmakers in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America as well as the United States are probing immigration’s causes as well as its consequences for the lives of ordinary people.

One of the films mentioned in the piece is “Frozen River”, a recent film focusing on human trafficking.

In a way that’s characteristic of many of these new films, “Frozen River” has a global perspective but an intimate focus. Its view of immigration is less anchored in large-scale political abstractions than in the nuanced emotional relations between its very specific characters and situations. It has nothing to say directly about, say, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Instead, it looks at immigration as a dual exchange in which the American characters are as impacted as the foreigners by their brushes with each other.

That reflects [Courtney] Hunt’s belief that, in the post-Sept. 11 era, Americans gradually are awakening to the complex, challenging world around them. “We live in a very narrow-minded place,” she said by phone, referring to the United States. “The world is getting smaller, and even in the interior of America we’re going to learn a lot about the other people coming in.”

Be sure to read the full article.

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