Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development is a private, nonprofit agency founded in 1972 to provide emergency shelter and services in Phoenix for runaway and homeless youth. Its mission is to provide a safe space for collaborating with youth and young adults in the community who are vulnerable or experiencing homelessness.
Casa de Sueños (The Dream House) is one of Tumbleweed’s programs that provide transitional housing, education, recreation, religious, and reunification services for unaccompanied and undocumented minors from Latin America. 3 group homes house up to 10 teenagers each between the ages of 13-17. The youth mainly come from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Ecuador. The Director, Coordinators, Clinicians, Counselors, and Youth Care Workers offer cross-cultural support while encouraging clients through the Youth Development Model to maximize their potential, preparing them whether they stay in the US or return abroad.
Thanks to the University of Arizona’s Latin American Studies program, 4 films are on loan to Tumbleweed this July-August. Hosting the screenings and post-discussions will hopefully provide continuous professional development to staff while further educating administrators, volunteers, and board members about the population Casa de Sueños serves.
Posted by Lindy Drew, Team Coordinator, Casa de Sueños, Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development
During the Latin American Studies Association conference in May 2012, held in San Francisco, CA, several members of the Indocumentales team presented updates on the project. On behalf of what moves you?, Shamina de Gonzaga described how Indocumentales is designed to help connect communities of diverse background, generation and experience around immigration issues. Bringing the series to different neighborhoods in New York (where it was launched) and to a wide range of venues across the US, and accompanying all screenings with interactive discussions with guest speakers, are key to ensuring that all participants have the opportunity to contribute their knowledge, opinions and ideas to the complex issues raised by the featured documentaries.
As it was the third time that Indocumentales was presented at LASA, beyond inviting the participants representing academic institutions to consider bringing the series to their campus, participants were also urged to break into smaller groups and reflect on issues in their community that they felt could benefit from the Indocumentales model – i.e. partnering with non-academic organizations, reaching out to interested constituencies in their local community, including documentaries, oral history and other non-traditional resources among learning materials.
Participants discussed the challenges of addressing polarizing topics in the classroom and how to ensure that, as faculty, one doesn’t bring in one’s own political views when presenting documentaries and dialogues on issues such as immigration. The Indocumentales experience has shown that framing the diverse experiences recounted through the documentaries and guest speakers as lenses through which one can better understand the issues, can be effective for stimulating genuine discussion, enabling people to air their views and ask questions.
Posted by Shamina de Gonzaga, co-founder, what moves you?
On May 30-June 1, the University of Arizona Center for Latin American Studies, UA South and Outreach College featured the film Al Otro Lado as part of the 2012 Summer Institute for Educators: Teaching the Borderlands. The three-day Institute provided K-12 and community college teachers with a range of experiences – from lectures about unique musical styles to a tour of the Arizona State Museum’s Many Mexicos exhibit.
Al Otro Lado allowed participants to consider the themes of both migration and music. The film’s powerful story line about the decisions of young corrido composer Magdiel to leave his fishing village in Sinaloa in search of opportunities in the U.S. was interwoven with the stories of famed corridistas who have had great success in the U.S. before him. These themes resonated strongly with the Institute participants, since many of their students have their own migration stories and idolize the heroes of the narcocorridos. Teachers debated the effect of narcocorridos on their communities – whether they simply glorify violence or fill a void for students by giving them heroes who overcome challenges similar to their own. UA South adjunct faculty and assistant vice chancellor of Pima Community College Dr. Dolores Duran-Cerda followed the discussion with a lecture about the folk art form of the corrido, including its role in the Mexican Revolution and the development of today’s narcocorridos.
The screening of AbUSed: The Postville Raid marks the 2nd anniversary of the Indocumentales/Undocumentaries: US-Mexico Interdependent Film Series. This film is about the devastating effects of US Enforcement Immigration Policies on communities, families and children. It tells the stories of the individuals, families and the town that survived the most brutal, expensive and largest immigration raid in the history of the United States. On May 12, 2008, Postville, Iowa experienced a heavily armed and militarized immigration raid where 389 undocumented meatpacking workers were arrested and chained while working at Agriprocessors, Inc by 900 armed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Officials charged many of the apprehended with criminal offenses, using those to force guilty pleas, accept detention and eventually, deportation. Filmmaker Luis Argueta was in attendance to participate in a panel discussion following the film.
The dialogue and panel after film featured the following guests: Luis Argueta, Director, AbUSed: THe Postville Raid, Muzaffar Chishti, Director, Migration Policy Institute Office at NYU School of Law and Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director, the New York Immigration Coalition.
Our second film of the Borderlands Community Film Series was Farmingville. The film highlighted the tensions of the town after Mexican day laborers began to be employed in the community. Unfortunately the clash led to the savage beating of two undocumented workers. The film offered various perspectives over the issue of immigration which helped greatly in discussing the film. After the film, our general discussion was dominated with questions about how should immigrant populations be integrated into the country. Also towards the end of the film, it was mentioned that a new wave of immigrants from Mexico City had arrived in Farmingville. As a result, tensions emerged between the first wave and the newly arrived wave. The audience had a difficulty understand why there were hostilities between the groups. I had to explain that even though they were Mexican, the first group came from a rural background while the new wave came from the inner-city. In other words, the tension that existed in Mexico between the groups reemerged in Farmingville. Overall the film was received well by the audience.
It was February 2, 2012 that the UA Center for Latin American Studies screened the film Mi Vida Dentro . Our venue is located on the south-side of Tucson at the Pueblo Center. Primarily, our goal is to reconnect with the south-side community through the Borderlands Community Film Series. The film, Mi Vida Dentro , caused several of our viewers to shake their heads in disappointment. After the film ended we held an open discussion for general questions. Even though the film was mostly in Spanish without subtitles, our viewers understood the message. The questions that dominated the discussion pertained to legal and cultural issues. For example, if an illegal immigrant was in need of help should they call emergency services. Although they are entitled to this right most will not for fear of being deported. Furthermore, our viewers were appalled by the prosecutor’s racist remarks while she was addressing the jury. To be specific, it was her comment about Mexicans being smarter than they looked. Overall the viewers enjoyed the film and left home questioning the U.S. justice system.
The Indocumentales film series will be launched in Tucson, Arizona in Spring 2012 as part of the Borderlands Community Film Series. The UA Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) was awarded a Arizona Humanities Council grant to run this series. The films will be screened at the El Pueblo Neighborhood Center and the Harkins Spectrum Theater in South Tucson in late 2011 and spring 2012. The series kicked off in September 2011 with a screening of Los Que Se Quedan/Those Who Remain (Carlos Hagermann, Carlos Rulfo).
CLAS is working with the Hanson Film Institute and the Consulado de Mexico en Tucson to screen films and encourage a dialogue about the issues the films explore. The events will include discussions with filmmakers or experts and are completely free and open to the public.
Luis Carlos Davis, Filmmaker "389 Miles: Living the Border"
The series will include several films by local filmmakers focusing on regional border issues. In October 2011, the Borderlands Film Festival screened 389 Miles: Living the Border, featuring a Q&A with film director Luis Carlos Davis. The film is a documentary that addresses the current immigration debate taking place on the Arizona-Mexico border. It is a human journey, a story documented by director/producer Luis Carlos Davis who grew up in the shadow of the Arizona-Mexico border. It presents the raw, daily life of human beings who come from different backgrounds and ideologies when it comes to immigration. One of the few things they all have in common is the border fence, steel wall or a strands of rusty barbed wire.
Listen to the Audio archive of Americas Society screening of Elvira
Still from “ELVIRA,” a film by Javier Solórzano Casarín, Mexico, 65 min. 2009
On December 20, 2011 Americas Society hosted the New York premiere and screening of ELVIRA (Javier Solórzano Casarín2009). The Mexican documentary film ELVIRA tells the story of Elvira Arellano, an undocumented mother that became an well known activist for migrants rights. A panel discussion was moderated by Shamina de Gonzaga, co-founder of what moves you? The panel included the Mexican filmmaker as well as the Executive Director of Families for Freedom (who were involved in the support of Elvira Arellano’s case). The discussion opened a dialogue about the role of migrant activism and the role of cinema in activism, both particularly relevant topics given the Occupy Wall Street movement in NYC and around the world.
On December 14th, NYU CLACS Outreach Program hosted a screening and discussion with area educators on the film Which Way Home. This was the second event in December for area educators. Which Way Home, a 2009 film by Rebecca Cammisa, focuses on immigrant children from Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico, who must overcome tremendous odds in their journey to the U.S.
The discussion, facilitated by Shamina de Gonzaga and Gala Narezo of what moves you?, opened a dialogue focusing on how teachers might use the film to teach on topics of migration, the challenges that children face on journeys between countries, and connections between the lives of the kids in their classroom with those of the kids shown in the film.
Many teachers commented on particular video clips that might be useful for their classroom. The group also speculated on the fate of the children in the film, a discussion that may be particularly relevant to open in classrooms. Following the release of the film, the NY Times followed up on one of the kids in the film who gained asylum in the US.
The Indocumentales program Resources page includes links to a UW-Madison website featuring commentary and resources on Which Way Home.
On December 5th, NYU CLACS Outreach Program hosted a screening and discussion with area educators on the film Farmingville. The aim of the event was to build ongoing education programming for the Indocumentales project, provide a space for networking among educators interested in teaching topics related to immigration, and disseminate resources that might be useful for teaching these themes in NYC classrooms.
The film was followed by comments by Professor Judy Hellman, CLACS Visiting Professor and Professor of Anthropology at York University in Canada. She is the author of author of The World of Mexican Migrants and Mexican Lives. Hellman made connections between economic and political change in Mexico he growth of undocumented migration to the United States, which affected communities such as Farmingville, NY.
The discussion, facilitated by Shamina de Gonzaga and Gala Narezo of what moves you?, then opened up to explore ways this film might be taught in classrooms. Teachers offered feedback on clips that are particularly relevant, challenges they may face in teaching these controversial topics, and opportunities to make linkages to existing curriculum.
Farmingville, a 2004 film by Carlos Sandoval and Catherine Tambini, documents the attempted murders of two Mexican day-laborers in Long Island. The movie features first-hand accounts from residents, day-laborers and activists, and underscores the continuing relevance of undocumented immigrant issues.
The Indocumentales program Resources page includes links to PBS teaching materials for Farmingville. The PBS site also has a video interview with the films directors, Carlos Sandoval and Catherine Tambini. The POV materials also gave rise to the Farmingville Campaign, a project of Active Voice which aims to help communities begin or deepen discussions about immigration, racism, national identity and the democratic process.