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|Prof. Eileen Boris walking on stage with a copy of the invitation to the houseparty that she hosted for Made in L.A. 4 years ago.|
While Almudena flew to Spain for DocumentaMadrid, I went to present Made in L.A. at the University of California at Santa Barbara. This event had special significance: almost exactly 4 years ago, Almudena and I held a houseparty at the home of Professors Eileen Boris and Nelson Lichtenstein, to raise funds for the film. This was one of several houseparties that we did during our first four years of production, and these events were not only one of our most important sources of funding in those years, but also served to provide much needed emotional support. When people hug you, crying, to tell you "you must finish this film", you know that you are on to something and that you really MUST finish the film. These were our very first audience members and supporters, and Made in L.A. would not exist without the support of over 300 individuals that came to our houseparties.
Four years later, there I was, back in Santa Barbara with Eileen, and now with the finished film doing educational screenings just as we had promised we would at that houseparty! And it was an amazing evening. What had been planned as a 150-person screening soon overflowed to 200... and then 300. Two more rooms had to be opened at the Multi Cultural Center so that the film could screen simultaneously. And, in addition to my talking about the making of the film at the Q&A, Aidin Castillo, an organizer from Santa Barbara's PUEBLO, was there to talk about the issues that workers are encountering in communities near campus, which really brought the message home.
I called Almudena to let her know -it was 3am in Spain and she was still partying after the second full day of screenings in Madrid. How amazing that, thousands of miles apart, Made in L.A. is able to move and impact people at the same time!
Special thanks to event organizer (and Ph. D Student in Sociology) Veronica Montes, to Rebekah Meredith, Programmer for the Multi-Cultural Center, to Professor Elizabeth Currans, and of course to Professor Eileen Boris for her faith and support for Made in L.A. for so many years!
|Lupe holds one of the clever centerpieces, which she nicknamed an "Oscarito". Out in the hall people looked at us as though it was a real Oscar!|
The first night, Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media (GFEM), held a special dinner and screening of Made in L.A., with support from Hispanics in Philanthropy and Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees. Lupe, one of the stars in the film, had also been invited to attend, and she, Robert and I led a long Q&A (beautifully moderated by Alyce Myatt!), which focused on the outreach efforts and the continued impact that Made in L.A. is having in the US and abroad. There was also an interesting discussion about the funding process for Made in L.A. (which, like many independent documentaries, struggled for years before breaking through), and it was of course beautiful to see one of our funders, Patricia Boero from Latino Public Broadcasting, in attendance lending her support!
While at the conference, we had the opportunity to attend several panels and events, and Monday's plenary luncheon was especially powerful. Titled "Philanthropic Partnership: Improving the Lives of our Fellow-citizens", it explored the state of human rights sixty years after the Universal Declaration. Moderated by Gara LaMarche, this was a passionate two-hour conversation among three extraordinary panelists: Anthony Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU, Kumi Naidoo of CIVICUS, and Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland. You can view much of the discussion here (the panel actually starts in "Part 2").
The entire experience was a rare opportunity to peek into this world, and we were deeply inspired by what we saw. Just as we, as filmmakers, strive to change the world through filmmaking, and its unique emotional power to make an impact, so very many of the executives and program officers that we met during the conference are striving to change the world through philanthropy. It's inspiring to know that we are all on this quest together.
|At the reception held in my honor at the Raices Gallery in Tuscon, with the wonderful organizers and Ruben Reyes, who programmed the film.|
Finally, I returned to L.A. to go to straight to the Port of San Pedro, where Made in L.A. was screening as the closing night film of the LA Harbor International Film Festival. The screening was sponsored by ILWU (thank you!) and we received a memorable Certificate of Appreciation from the City of Los Angeles, which was presented by LA Councilmember Janice Hahn. I got home exhausted from so much activity, but quite invigorated!!!
|City Councilmember Janice Hahn, a big fan of the film, with Joann Lo, Robert and me, after presenting the Certificates of Appreciation.|
| With Desiree Garcia and Bernadine Mellis|
|With Alisa Kowal and Liana Foxvog|
We went to dinner afterwards with some of the organizers, and it was a beautiful finish to the tour, full of new people, new places, and new experiences... Wherever we go, we want to think that the film leaves a mark -and its circle of impact expands day by day...
This event was sponsored by: SSJIC, Nosotras, Sweatfree Communities (one of our outreach partners - to find out how to become a partner, click here), the Program for the Study of Women & Gender, and the Film Studies program (Mt. Holyoke).
The moment I entered the screening room, I received a huge hug from Unidad Latina organizer Fátima Rojas, who had seen Made in L.A. on PBS in September. That was moving, and it was a beautiful reminder of how many people may have seen or been impacted by the film without our even knowing...
The panel discussion following the screening was moderated by Professor Jennifer Klein and included Fatima and Juan Granados, from Unidad Latina en Acción, and Elizabeth Breton from the UNITE-HERE Joint Laundry Board. It was moving to be able to hear a deep discussion of the human and local issues that stem from the film, and I wrote down a few sentences that touched me, to share here:
"Many times we feel very small but when we are organized we lose our fear" - Juan
"I was waiting for the American dream to come knock on my door and say ‘come join me', but it never happened" - Elisabeth.
"Everyone living in a community, all of us, at the end of the day, we are all workers" -Fatima.
Fear. Unity. Hope. These are the three words I wrote on my pad to remember from that night.
This panel was a great example of how the film can help bring together students, academics, community members, activists and workers! As a result of the event, Unidad Latina has shown the film in New Haven today, May 1st, during the day of action "La Unidad hace la Fuerza. In Unity there is Strength". For more info click here or write ULAccion@yahoo.com.
We also just heard from Professor Klein about a successful union organizing drive at a laundry plant near New Haven (click here for more info). Exciting news!
Here's a group photo of everyone involved, with Made in L.A. flyers: Left to right, bottom to top: Alfonso Santiago with little Ambar, a student, Juan Granados, Fátima Rojas, Elizabeth Bretón, Michael Denning, me, Jennifer Klein, Steve Pitti and Robert.
| With Monica Pelayo and Prof. Matt Garcia|
A huge thank you also goes to student leader Monica Pelayo, who coordinated the entire event, and to the event sponsors Semana Chicana and The Center for Study of Race and Ethnicity!
SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication, is a non-governmental organization that includes members from 140 countries: professionals in radio, television, cinema, video, media education, Internet, and new technology. Each year, SIGNIS organizes Ecumenical or Interfaith Juries at more than 30 prominent Film Festivals around the world, including Cannes, Berlin, Locarno and Venice.
Europe is indeed experiencing many of the issues reflected in Made in L.A., and I was shocked to learn recently about the scandal in Italy where they found Chinese immigrants working for no money in underground, illegal shops in Tuscany that produced cheap bags and shoes bearing fraudulent Prada, Fendi and Nike insignia (read the LA Times story here). But as we were reminded by the audience, garment shops and other businesses that rely on low wage immigrant labor are everywhere, and I wonder how long it'll be before there is another big "sweatshop" scandal, this time in Paris, Madrid or Berlin.
People coming into the theater in the neighborhood of Saint Michel in Paris
On the brighter side, we were amazed to see, once again, that the film is able to resonate in other countries and that our little story about Lupe, Maria and Maura is able to convey a universal truth about the dignity of the human spirit, which knows no borders and certainly no boundaries.
To listen to a great radio interview in Radio France International (in French), click here.
"Immigration - under any guise - is one of the defining issues of our age. With "Made in L.A.," Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar show in vivid detail that, at a fundamental level, this is not simply an issue of competitive intermingling of people, but that it is also an issue of the assault on universal human dignity in the face of enormous global economic pressures. Ultimately though, they show that despite the political or economic vices twisting down upon the planet, the elementary human spirit remains the most powerful force at work."
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We're also planning a mini-tour in New England! More info coming soon!
To see details on these and other events, check our screenings page!
It will premiere in France at the prestigious Paris International Human Rights Film Festival, and Robert and I will be in attendance!
Made in L.A. will have its Israeli premiere at the prestigious Docaviv Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival!
The German premiere will be at the touring CineLatino Filmfestival, which travels to the cities of Tübingen, Stuttgart, Fráncfort, Heidelberg y Friburgo in Germany!
Our Italian premiere will be at the Rome Independent Film Festival!
Finally, to close the month, the Gdansk DocFilm Festival "Dignity and Work" will premiere Made in L.A. in Poland!
It was a very beautiful ceremony, and it was an honor to receive the award from the hands of Mexican director Luis Mandoki, whom I admire so much. (His film Innocent Voices broke my heart...) This award means a lot, especially because NALIP has played such a wonderful role during the development of the project. I still remember the first NALIP conference I attended, back in 2004, where I started to understand what it takes to make this kind of doc. After that, the project was nurtured at the Latino Producers Academy (and it was so beautiful to go again 4 years later, last July, to show the finished film to the new fellows!). NALIP is an amazing community and I am humbled and grateful for all of their support!
Believe it or not, NALIP put together a tribute reel for the awards ceremony! Hats off to the creators Sixto Melendez, Javier Gomez and Marcos Najera (narrator):
After 5 days, 7 screenings and 1200+ miles on the road, we have learned a lot and we have been inspired by how many people and groups have come together for each event. It is a testament to how many layers the film has, and it reaffirms our belief that there's still so very much to do with Made in L.A. After five and a half years in the making, this is the most beautiful part, where we bring the film into the communities that need it, to help educate and empower people. This is, simply, the reason why we made the film - our mission.
To read more about how we organized this tour, check our blog posting at POV's website.
Here's a compilation of some photos from the trip. Enjoy!
It was also very interesting to connect with student issues on campus, in particular because one of the sponsoring orgs was Speak, a student group fighting for the rights of undocumented students. After the long and super interesting Q&A, we had another long line of students waiting to sign their DVDs!
Afterwards we went for a fun bilingual dinner with Prof. Almerindo Ojeda (second in line in the photo), director of the Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas (who gathered all the support from the rest of sponsoring organizations), with Neta Borshansky (first in line in the photo), who put flyers all across campus, and with new-made friends!
(Moises Park, who made the flyers and helped with the event, had drum practice and couldn't join us...).
It was the perfect closing event!
(This event was presented by the UCDavis Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas and co-sponsored by the Hemispheric Institute in the Americas, the Law School, The Department of Spanish, Women and Gender Studies, Chicana/o Studies, and Scholars Promoting Education Awareness and Knowledge -SPEAK.)