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Made in LASpread the Word

Month of April, 2009

Northen CA Screening Leads to Student Action!

Last January I traveled with Lupe (one of the women in Made in L.A.) to show the film at the Castilleja School, an all-girl 6-12 school in Palo Alto, CA. It was an electrifying experience, and very moving for us and for them. In the little video we just posted on our Youtube channel, you can see the audience's reaction, including the standing ovation they gave us at the end -the organizers later explained they had never seen something like this before, and they've had superstar guests in the past, including Al Gore and Madeleine Albright!


Some days later, I got an e-mail from one of the students, age 13, named Malaika, She wanted to create a club in her school to help support issues in the film. Lupe had mentioned the girls' uniforms during the presentation, and I told her that the best way to help was to work towards sweatfree apparel in her school. And she did. She sent me these words for the blog, as well as a copy of the letter that the students sent to the school administration. Read on as you see a young organizer emerging:

"I saw Made in L.A. as part of my school's Global Week. As I watched the film I remember wondering: who had made my sweatshirt? And what about my powder blue uniform skirt? Where was that from?

Lupe talking to some students after the screening

The film takes us to the heart of the L.A. Fashion District where we are introduced to three women working in sweatshops to feed their families on a day-to-day basis. The most upsetting aspect though, was that for many of us this was something we had never considered. The idea that a starving woman had sat up late into the night sewing my skirt seemed almost unreal to me. Yet, for someone, somewhere, this was their reality.

The whole experience was very emotional for me. There I was, a thirteen-year-old, freshman, in Palo Alto, California and for the first time I felt utterly and completely helpless. I am so used to being able to voice my opinion when I don't agree with something, and to keep pushing until someone finally gives in. But this time, there was nothing I could do to help. Or so I thought.

The movie ended, and I left the auditorium, in tears, to go to lunch. My advisor, Ms. Spanier, noticed my red eyes and pulled me aside. "What's wrong?", she asked, concerned by how upset I was. I told her about this movie I had just seen, and how distressed I felt by the conditions these women had to work under. Ms. Spanier... then told me about the potential to make change. She encouraged me to start a group and raise awareness.

Today, I will attend my fourth Sweatshop meeting. We will be composing a letter to the administration at school, asking them to switch our uniform manufacturer to a fair trade one. Made in L.A. opened my eyes to a world I didn't know existed. It gave me the potential to make a difference, and to encourage others to do so as well. It has opened doors to a cause I am passionate about, and one that I will pursue until working conditions begin to change."


We thank the Castilleja school for bringing us to the school, for helping us show part of the event to the world by sharing their recording of it, and for encouraging Malaika and her fellow students to start this club and effect change on campus!

Story Leads to Action: Video from 92Y Tribeca Screening

In February, we had a beautiful screening of Made in L.A. at 92Y Tribeca in New York, co-presented by Chicken & Egg Pictures and Working Films. As part of that event, they had invited organizers and workers from the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops (NMASS) and the Chinese Staff and Workers' Association (CSWA) to speak, as they had JUST won a long campaign against the Liberty Apparel manufacturer (read the full blog about that event), and their stories had some parallels to Made in L.A...

Jeremy Levine filmed the event and created this beautiful short piece for Working Films, which they just posted on-line (thank you Jeremy!):

Made in L.A. screens in Capitol Hill to put a human face on immigration

Frank Sharry, America's Voice; Congresman Luis Gutierrez; filmmaker Almudena Carracedo; Congreswoman Diane Watson, filmmaker Robert Bahar; and Bill Mefford, United Methodist Church/ Interfaith Immigration Coalition
We just went to Washington DC last week for a screening of Made in L.A. on Capitol Hill. For the last year and a half, since we had our broadcast premiere at PBS's POV series POV the day after Labor Day 2007, we have been traveling with Made in L.A. in order to put a human face on the many issues that intersect in the film: immigration and immigrant workers, labor rights, "sweatfree" organizing and women's empowerment. In recent months, as immigration reform has returned to the national dialogue, we have put special emphasis on providing Made in L.A. as a tool to humanize immigrants' stories. This Congressional screening was part of this effort -in the midst of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus's Historic Family Unity listening tour, congressional leaders and community leaders came together to discuss the current state of the immigration debate and groundbreaking grassroots work happening across the country.

Sally Jo Fifer, ITVS; filmmaker Almudena Carracedo; Congresmember Diane Watson; filmmaker Robert Bahar; and Simon Kilmurry, American Documentary | POV.
This event included comments and conversation with Congresswoman Diane Watson, Congressman Luis Gutierrez, Chair of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus' Immigration Taskforce, Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director of America's Voice, Bill Mefford, Director of Civil and Human Rights for the United Methodist Church and a leader of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, and Angela Kelley, Director of the Immigration Policy Center at the American Immigration Law Foundation, with brief opening remarks presented by Ted A. Garcia, Senior Vice President, Television Content, Corporation For Public Broadcasting, and Sally Jo Fifer, President and CEO of ITVS. Simon Kilmurry, Executive Director of American Documentary, Inc. | P.O.V., was also in attendance.

Congreswoman Diane Watson applauds Made in L.A. during her opening remarks.

It was quite impressive to be there and to listen to the comments of these community leaders and congress members. Congresswoman Diane Watson opened the event, which was sponsored by the Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus, which she chairs: "As we watch Made in L.A., I'd like you to take in the journey that these courageous women made staring directly into the face of adversity and remember one word: perseverance... You'll see that Lupe and Maura and Maria could have been any of us if born under different circumstances. And who among us would not fight for a better life, and a safe life, and fair working conditions for their family, our children and our community? These inspiring women found strength in numbers and fought until justice and equality prevailed. It is my hope that we as lawmakers and concerned citizens will take the information from today's film and discussion and apply it to our continuing fight for fair wages, for decent working conditions, and a safe place to work without the threats of abuse regardless of one's immigration status."

Congresman Luis Gutierrez speaks passionately about Made in L.A.

Luis Gutierrez, Chair of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus Immigration Taskforce spoke about the Historic Family Unity listening tour and how these experiences have shaped his views on the need for immigration reform. He commented how he cried when he saw Made in L.A. and later added: "Made in LA is a breathtaking and deeply touching depiction of the human cost of our immigration crisis. I'm thrilled my colleagues and I had the opportunity to screen this movie on Capitol Hill. I urge anyone who is uncertain about the need for humane reform to see this movie."

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director of America’s Voice

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director of America's Voice, framed the film with passion and humanity: "Those of you who get a chance to watch this film, many of you will have the same experience that I've had countless times. I get asked all the time why does some middle class white guy work on an issue that mainly affects working class Latino immigrants. And I'll tell you why, it's because I've had the opportunity through unusual circumstances to get to know thousands of people and their life stories. And once you know, everything's different. I love the title, "Made in L.A." cause it speaks to that "are they ‘them' or are they ‘us'." And I think this country will be so much better off when we realize that the ‘thems' are ‘us' in everything but paperwork and that when the ‘thems' become ‘us', ‘us' will become much stronger. Our hearts will be more open, our country will be stronger, and we will live true to ideals that we sometimes forget. So I think ‘Made in L.A.' is ... a beautiful film, and I think that it will challenge all of us to continue to stretch so that America becomes what it might yet be rather than what it's recently become. And when we do, I think the ‘stars' of the movie will make all of us feel proud that we were made in America."

Bill Mefford, Interfaith Immigration Coalition; Angela Kelley, Immigration Policy Center; filmmaker Almudena Carracedo; and Congreswoman Diane Watson during the panel discussion.

The panel that followed the screening explored some of the previous efforts to pass immigration related legislation, and highlighted the wonderful work of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, Immigration Policy Center, America's Voice, and many other organizations that are working to facilitate a national dialogue around the issues of immigration and immigrant workers.

Senior Vice President of Television Content at the Corporation For Public Broadcasting Ted Garcia highlighted the story and mission of Made in L.A. and acknowledged the many partners that came together to make the film possible: "Made in L.A. highlights some of the reasons why public service media is so crucial... I'm so pleased that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting through our support of ITVS, POV and Latino Public Broadcasting has played a role in ensuring that this story would be told." We were also touched by Sally Fifer's comment that "Made in L.A. represents exactly that kind of deep, authentic filmmaking that breaks new ground and brings us new understanding."

We are happy and honored that Made in L.A. was able to contribute, even in a small way, to this national dialogue, and that both the event and the publicity around it helped get the film into the hands of lawmakers, and policy professionals.

Laura Flanders highlights Made in L.A. May Day Campaign on GritTV

We're thrilled that Laura Flanders highlighted Made in L.A. and our May Day Community Screening Campaign as her Doc of the Week on GritTV. Here's the clip!

Tax Dollars Linked to Sweatshops

Sweatfree Communities, one of our Outreach Partners, has just announced the release of their new 60-page report on sweatshop conditions in factories making products for federal, state and local governments, using our tax dollars.
Sweatfree Communities is encouraging people to take action by e-mailing their Governors. To learn more and download the report, visit

New Immigration Headlines widget featuring Made in L.A.!

We're happy and proud to announce the cool new Immigration Headlines widget, created by the Media Consortium, one of our wonderful outreach partners in our May Day Campaign. The Widget features Made in L.A. and will keep you up-to-date with the latest immigration headlines from across the country!

Get the Widget now!

Update: Made in L.A.'s May Day campaign

Just last week, we launched the May Day Community Screening Campaign and we've been thrilled by the response that it's starting to have!

The Campaign has already been featured in numerous newsletters from national organizations, and numerous prominent blogs, and was just profiled on Laura Flander's GritTV! And the Media Consortium just launched a new Immigration Headlines Wigdet featuring Made in L.A.!

And, in addition to working with America's Voice, Interfaith Immigration Coalition and Immigration Policy Center around our Capitol Hill screening, a number of national organizations are working to spread the word and/or organize screenings: American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, Breakthrough, Enlace, Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), Interfaith Worker Justice, Latino Public Broadcasting, Media Consortium, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National Immigrant Solidarity Network, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Sojourners and Sweatfree Communities, among others.

More and more organizations are joining the campaign each week, so stay tuned at for more exciting updates and new short web videos coming up soon!

Al dia: Campaña del 1 de Mayo de Made in L.A.

Apenas la semana pasada hemos lanzado la Campaña del Primero de mayo de Made in L.A. y estamos encantados con la respuesta que está empezando a tener!

La campaña ya se ha resaltado en numerosos newsletters de organizaciones nacionales y numerosos blogs prominentes, y acaba de destacarse en GritTV de Laura Flanders! Además, el Media Consortium acaba de lanzar su nuevo widget con Noticias sobre Inmigración destacando Made in L.A.

Además de las organizaciones con las que trabajamos en torno a nuestro evento en Capitol Hill (America's Voice, Interfaith Immigration Coalition y Immigration Policy Center), un gran numero de organizaciones nacionales están trabajando para pasar la voz y/u organizar eventos y proyecciones: American Friends Service Committee, Amnesty International, Breakthrough, Enlace, Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM), Interfaith Worker Justice, Latino Public Broadcasting, Media Consortium, National Council of La Raza (NCLR), National Immigrant Solidarity Network, National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Sojourners y Sweatfree Communities, entre otros.

Más y más organizaciones se unen a la campaña cada semana, así que estate atento/a para estar al día y ver los nuevos vídeos web que lanzaremos pronto!

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