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Month of June, 2009

Made in L.A. to tour the world with American Documentary Showcase

It's now official! We're happy to announce that Made in L.A. will be among the 30 documentaries selected to be part of the American Documentary Showcase, a curated program of contemporary documentaries that is offered to US Embassies for screening abroad. Funded by, and as a cooperative program with, the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State, the Showcase is designed to promote American documentaries and their filmmakers at international overseas venues, including US Embassy-organized events and/or US Embassy-supported international documentary film festivals.

The goal of the Showcase is to offer a broad, diversified look at life in the United States and the values of a democratic society as seen by American documentary filmmakers. The Showcase is intended to demonstrate the role documentary plays in fostering understanding and cooperation.

At the Reform Immigration for America Campaign Summit

In the first week of June I presented Made in L.A. at the Reform Immigration for America Campaign Summit, where 800 organizers converged to launch a national campaign for Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

Poster of Made in L.A. at the Summit
The Summit followed more than 40 local and regional kick-off events around the country earlier in the week, and included a national town hall meeting and numerous visits on Capitol Hill. Following the closing dinner on Thursday night, Made in L.A. was screened, and a number of organizers took copies home to use as a tool for outreach in their communities.


Hillman Prize Ceremony

We wanted to share a couple of photos from the Hillman Awards ceremony, where we were presented with the Hillman Prize for Broadcast Journalism for Made in L.A. The winners in the other categories are all journalists with long track records of work in the service of social and economic justice, and it was tremendously inspiring to hear their acceptance speeches: in some cases explaining how they became journalists, in others sharing their vision around the work they do, most often delving deep into the human stories they helped bring to light. Our heartfelt congratulations to all of them!


Robert and Almudena receive the award

 

Alexandra Lescaze, executive director of the Sidney Hillman Foundation, Robert and me,
and Hillman Awards judge Hendrik Hertzberg, senior editor of the New Yorker.

 

Food Inc and Immigrant Workers

A couple of weekends ago I saw Food Inc on its opening weekend. The film (edited by one of Made in L.A.'s editors, Kim Roberts!) is about the food we eat, and the corporations behind it, but the reason I bring it to this blog is to comment on a particularly relevant question explored in the film. Who are the men and women working in the meatpacking plants? As one might guess from the news, they're almost all immigrants. What's less clear from the news is why they're here, and how.

Food Inc delves deep into the reasons for the exodus of hundreds of thousands of small farmers from Mexico, who are losing a way of life because of their inability to compete with low-cost imported U.S. corn, often subsidized by the U.S. government and flowing freely as a result of NAFTA. (Read more here) The cycle continues as large meatpacking companies post ads in their destroyed towns assuring good wages in the U.S., even setting up bus lines to help workers come illegally to the U.S., so they work at meatpacking factories. According to the film, this practice was frequently ignored by Immigration authorities. And, despite the well-publicized, high-profile raids in places like Postville, an organizer in the film explains that the major agribusiness companies only experience "occasional small raids": 10 to 15 immigrants being detained everyday in their trailers, in what he describes as possible complicity between the company and the authorities to avoid bigger crackdowns that could slow or stop production.

I thank the producers of Food Inc for being brave enough to connect the dots, and to link the food we all eat with the lives of hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been turned upside-down (back in Mexico and now in the US) so that we can eat meat everyday.

Flor Crisostomo, a compañera in sanctuary

Last time I was in Chicago to present Made in L.A., I was introduced to Flor Crisostomo, a wonderful woman who has been living in sanctuary at the Adalberto United Methodist Church for the last year in order to fight a deportation order. Her story is powerful, and a living example of resistance and the power of the sanctuary movement. I gave her Made in L.A. to encourage her, and she wrote me back with beautiful comments about the film and its similarities to her life of struggle... I'll post here a summary:

"I saw the film twice... it's really impressive and with so many similarities to my life, and to the life to millions of workers in the US. When I arrived to California I also worked in a textile company...

[Made in L.A.] shows the transformation of three beautiful women, who in the process of achieving justice for themselves as women and their dignity, were able to learn what few immigrants are able to do for fear of reprisals.

The story of Maura, who ahs spent more than 18 years without seeing her children, is basically the story of many immigrants. I myself have spent more than 9 years without seeing my children, educating them in the distance via phone and like many others missing the most important dates in the life of our children. As mothers, we suffer psychological damage everyday because we ask that when we eat, theyre also eating, that they don't suffer as much through their sick days and are healthy and safe, and that on mothers day they don't feel alone."

I encourage everyone to send her letters of support, and to support her in other ways if they can (she sells the most beautiful and earrings that she makes herself in order to support her and her family while in sanctuary. For more info about Flor and her struggle, and to get in touch with her, visit her website and blog. Thank you!

•••

Flor Crisostomo, compañera en santuario


La última vez aque estuve en Chicago para presentar Made in LA me presentaron a Flor Crisóstomo, una mujer excepcional que lleva viviendo más de un año en reclusión en la iglesia de Adalberto (United Methodist Church), luchando contra una orden de deportación. Sus historia es muy poderosa, y un ejemplo viviente de resistencia y del poder del movimiento de santuarios. Le di el DVD de Made in L.A. para animarla, y a petición mia me escribió con unos comentarios muy bonitos sobre la película y las similitudes con su vida de lucha. Incluyo aquí un segmento:

"Vi dos veces la película... es muy impresionante y con tantas similitudes con mi vida y pienso que con la de los millones de trabajadores en EEUU. Cuando llegué a California yo también trabajé en una compañía de textil...

[Made in L.A.] muestra la transformación de tres bellas mujeres, que en el transcurso de justicia para su genero y para su dignidad las llevo a conocer lo que no cualquier migrante puede darse el lujo de hacer por temor a represalias.

La historia de Maura, que ha pasado más de 18 años sin ver a sus hijos, es prácticamente la historia de muchos inmigrantes. Como en mi situación que he pasado mas de 9 años sin ver mis hijos, educándolos a distancia a través del teléfono y perdiéndonos las fechas mas importante de la vida de nuestros hijos. Sufrimos deterioro psicológico como madres todos los días porque pedimos que al comer nosotras ellos también estén comiendo, que en sus enfermedades no sufran tanto y no les duela absolutamente nada, y que en ese día de las madres no se sientan solos."

Animo a todo el mundo a que le envíen cartas de apoyo, y a apoyarla en otras formas si pueden (vende aretes y collares preciosos que ella misma fabrica para poder sustentarse a ella y su familia mientras se encuentra encerrada en condición de santuario). Para más información sobre Flor y para ponerse en contacto con ella, visita su página web y blog en www.floresiste.wordpress.com.

Almudena receives Spirit of Humanity Award

During a presentation at Sonoma State University, Sophoan Sorn, director of the San Joaquin Film Society and the San Joaquin International Film Festival, took the opportunity to come present me with the award that Made in LA had received at the inaugural festival months before. It was quite emotional for Sophoan, who had first come to Sonoma County years earlier, when he and his family emigrated from Vietnam (read his beautiful blog about it), for me, and for Lupe, who had come with me to present the film.

The Spirit of Humanity Award, as it states in the plaque, "honors an exemplary filmmaker and activist who uses film as an important social instrument to advance, celebrate, and promote humanity. This award is presented to Almudena Carracedo for her selfless dedication to uphold democracy, equal opportunity, and basic human rights as experienced in her directorial feature Made in L.A." How beautiful...

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