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Category Archives: Immigrants/Immigration
The Long Ride is a timely new feature-length documentary about the historic 2003 Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride that sparked the new Civil Rights Movement for immigrant workers in the United States. Alarmed by increasing abuse of immigrants in the workplace, more than 900 immigrants and allies traveled across America to focus public attention on the plight of immigrant workers and to call for reform of the broken immigration system. They were inspired by the 1961 Civil Rights Movement Freedom Riders who risked their lives fighting to end segregation. The film chronicles their journey and the on-going fight for immigrant rights to this day. With Freedom Riders as our navigators, the film puts a human face on this controversial issue and examines the human costs as lawmakers consider overhaul of the U.S. immigration system.
Chosen by Ai Weiwei as a companion piece to his “Trace” exhibit at the Hirshhorn, is a documentary about workers’ rights in China. Shot over six years, the film depicts labor activists striving to better the lives of the country’s workers — their aims do not go over well, as they are threatened and attacked on a regular basis.
96 min/Broomfi eld/UK/2006
Broomfield’s fictional feature film, Ghosts (2006), is based on interviews and articles gathered by the journalist Hsai-Hung Pai during her investigation into the 2004 Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy. Twenty-three undocumented migrant workers from China, all unfamiliar with the geography, language and customs of the area, were drowned after being caught out by incoming tides on the extensive mud flats of Morcambe Bay. Their deaths are dramatised in Ghosts which, whilst focusing on a single doomed work crew, is the story of workers who, in desperate need to support their families in China, resort to illegal immigration to countries such as the UK where they became part of the significant number of foreign-born precariat under-class workers. Th e cockle gatherers are representative of a signifi cant class of modern slavery, being bound to criminal gang bosses by a debt servitude that leaves them unable to escape their dangerous jobs. Broomfield deftly dramatises the process in which a Chinese worker pays smugglers a significant sum of money, before taking terrible risks (such as being transported by container), in order to enter the British workforce, where they are subsequently crowded into tiny cottages and treated akin to slaves before being sent out to work in conditions and environments that are dangerous and unsupervised.
(London Labour Film festival 2017)
(Chris Weitz, US 2011, 98 min., 35mm)
Set in contemporary East Los Angeles the film, whose plot partially parallels that of Bicycle Thief, sympathetically depicts experiences of undocumented Mexican immigrants including manual labor, schools, gangs, family, ICE and deportation. Mexican-American actor Demián Bichir received an Oscar nomination for his moving portrayal of a father who risks everything to make una vida mejor for his son.