Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Films About Immigration

Isn't the news horrible right now - about all those poor souls trying to get from their war torn countries to Italy, Spain or anywhere they can get to on overcrowded, dangerous boats - in search of a better life. It made me think of a few films about immigration.

The first one is from 1983, El Norte. If you haven't seen it, you should rent it. It's one of the best ones I've seen about the immigration experience. It's about a brother and sister from Guatemala who trek North and end up in Los Angeles. You'll cry about their difficulties getting across the border, you'll laugh at their culture shock trying to navigate around life in Los Angeles. It's a heartwarming film that lets you feel every emotion of their experiences.

The next film is a little lighter. It's Green Card starring Gerard Depardieu as a Frenchman wanting to stay to the United States. The only way he can do it is by getting married to an American. So this is where Andie McDowell comes in. She agrees to marry him (there is a trade off, you'll have to see the film) just until he gets his green card. And then they will supposedly get a divorce and everyone will be happy. It's a fun movie. I especially love the part where he gives a piano concert to a group of socialites. Hilarious


The Visitor is another excellent film about the immigration experience. Tarek, a Syrian and his girlfiend, Zainab are living in a NY apartment they've rented illegally not knowing that it is owned by Walter, a college professor from Conneticut (Richard Jenkins). Walter surprises them when he's decided to stay in his apartment in New York for a while. Walter reluctantly allows the couple to stay in the apartment with him and they develop a friendship. A friendship later develops between Walter and Tarek's mother. She's come to NY to try to get Tarek out of a detention center where he was sent because of a subway infraction. This is a really wonderful film. It's actually more about Walter and  how he is inspired by Tarek.  But there's plenty here about the injustices of the immigration system. Richard Jenkins was nominated for an Oscar for this role.

There are other excellent films about the immigration problem. I just wish that some kind of progress could be made to help those who are trying to stay here in search of a better life.