A Day without a Mexican

Standing on line at the café waiting for my morning coffee, CNN was doing a spot on A Day without a Mexican, Sergio Arau’s “mockumentary” satire from 2004.  Scripted like a sci-fi thriller, the film depicts the shocking story of Mexican & Mexican American people disappearing throughout California, leaving hordes of panicky white folks to deal with their own cooking, laundering, babysitting, gardening, and other responsibilities.

Trailer: A Day without a Mexican

The documentary makes its point with humor and some tragedy, and can serve as a useful tool for class discussions on the often difficult topics of immigration, race, economic refugees, and class privilege.  The Library owns A Day without A Mexican in both DVD and video formats.  Here are the details, along with other recent and classic DVDs and videos on the topic of Latin American immigration.

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A Day without a Mexican; dir. by Sergio Arau
“Presented in documentary fashion, this program shows what might happen, what adverse effects there would be, etc. if all Mexican Americans and Mexicans in the United States were to vanish.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 462)

AbUSed:  THe Postville Raid; dir. by Luis Argueta
“The arrest of nearly 400 undocumented workers in Postville, Iowa, pushed the town to the brink of collapse and severed an economic lifeline to one of the poorest areas in the Western Hemisphere. These are stories in Guatemala and Iowa of the immigrants affected.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 005 162)

 Trailer: AbUSed: The Postville Raid

Postville: When cultures collide; Iowa Public Television
“Tells the story of how a small Iowa town is dealing with multiculturalism. Postville, Iowa is where more than 300 Hasidic Jews, plus hundreds of Mexicans, Guatelmalans, Ukrainians and Russians have taken up residence in the last decade. Explores the struggles and rewards of the social and economic changes.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 808)
Which Way Home (HBO Documentary Films); dir. Rebecca Cammisa
“A feature documentary that follows unaccompanied child migrants on their journey through Mexico as they try to reach the United States. We follow children like Olga and Freddy, 9-year old Hondurans, who are trying to reach their parents in the U.S. Children like Jose, a 10-year old El Salvadoran, who has been abandoned by smugglers and ends up alone in a Mexican detention center, and Kevin, a streetwise 14-year-old Honduran, whose mother hopes that he will reach the U.S.”  Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 792)

Trailer: Which Way Home


La Caminata / The journey; dir. by Jamie Meltzer
“Fed up with the mass migration of their community, the small Mexican town of Alberto creates a one-of-a-kind tourist attraction they call La Caminata, a simulated nighttime border crossing, complete with fake border patrol chasing balaclava-clad coyotes. The experience is a cross between adventure tourism and a way for participants, largely middle class Mexican tourists, to experience firsthand the hardships of the border crossing. La Caminata details the story of this unlikely attempt to save a small community, offering a powerful look at the effect of migration in home communities, and opening a view to the immigration debate on the other side.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 006 793)

Children in No Man’s Land / Niños en tierra de nadie; dir. Anayansi Prado
“Relates “the story of Maria de Jesus (13) and her cousin Rene (12) as they attempt to cross the [Mexican-American Border Region] alone to reunite with their mothers in the Midwest. Focusing on minors crossing through the Sonora Desert area in Nogales, Arizona, this film explores every detail of these children’s journey as well as the journeys of other children we meet on the way.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 787)

A Little Salsa on the Prairie: The Changing Character of Perry, Iowa
“Summary of the history of a rural Midwest community, particularly its industry, immigration and ethnicity. Includes the rise and fall of the railroad and emergence of meatpacking as its major employer in the 1960s; investigates and portrays changes in the economy, society, and physical environment that arose due to Latino immigration in the 1980s and 1990s.”  Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 389)

Trailer: A Little Salsa on the Prairie

Letters from the other side; dir. by Heather Courtney
“Heather Courtney’s film interweaves video letters carried across the U.S.-Mexico border by the film’s director with the personal stories of women left behind in post-NAFTA Mexico. The video letters provides a way for these women to communicate with both loved ones and strangers on the other side of the border, and illustrates an unjust truth – as an American Courtney can carry these video letters back and forth across a border that these women are not legally allowed to cross. Focusing on a side of the immigration story rarely told by the media or touched upon in the national debate, the film offers a fresh perspective, painting a complex portrait of families torn apart by economics, communities dying at the hands of globalization, and governments incapable or unwilling to do anything about it.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 000 932)

De l’autre côté / From the other side; dir. by Chantal Akerman
“In images and interviews, this film examines the plight of poor Mexicans who try to emigrate to the United States illegally with the hope of a better life. U.S. attempts to stem the influx has forced immigrants to take dangerous routes to avoid detection, and many have died.”  In French, English, & Spanish, with English subtitles.  From renowned and prolific  Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman.
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 006 494)

Del otro lado del cristal / On the other side of the glass (ICAIC)
“Documentary on “Operación Peter Pan,” during which thousands of Cuban children left Havana for Miami without their parents between 1960-1962.”  In Spanish, with English subtitles.  From the renowned Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográfica (ICAIC).
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 003 389)

María Full of Grace; HBO Films, dir. Joshua Marston
“Maria, a poor Colombian teenager, is desperate to leave a soul-crushing job. She accepts an offer to transport packets of heroin – which she swallows – to the United States. The ruthless world of drug trafficking proves to be more than she bargained for.”  
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 000 900)

[Trailer: María Full of Grace – now replaced by a playlist Motorcycle Diaries!]

Diarios de motocicleta / Motorcycle Diaries; dir. by Walter Salles
(Okay, this one does not fit our theme at all but I just noticed the Maria Full of Grace trailer has  been replaced by a video playlist that starts with a Motorcycle Diaries trailer.  Playlists – go figure!  You can skip ahead about 6 or 7 videos to view the Maria Full of Grace trailer, or enjoy viewing them all.  It’s quite an eclectic collection!  Just the same, we do own Motorcycle Diaries, which tells the tale of the young Ernesto “Che” Guevara who drives his motorcycle across Latin America, learning many life lessons and becoming politicized along the way.  Enjoy the beautiful music by Gustavo Santaolalla in this trailer! Hey, we own the cd of his soundtrack for the film as well:  Disc 004 205 in the Media Center!  Check it out!)
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 001 134)

Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary; dir. Laura Angélica Simón
“A documentary by Los Angeles teacher Laura Angelica Simón, exploring the impact of California’s Proposition 187 on the immigrant community. The subject is Hoover Street Elementary School, where Simón candidly explores the attitudes and emotions of teachers, students and parents, focusing on a ten year old Salvadorian girl.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (Vide 002 738)

Trailer: El Norte

El Norte; dir. by Gregory Nava
The 1983 classic and still powerful film:  “Mayan Indian peasants are tired of being thought of as nothing more than manual laborers. They organize an effort to improve their lot in life, but are discovered by the Guatemalan army. After the army destroys their village and family, Enrique and Rosa, a teenage brother and sister, who barely escaped the massacre, decide they must flee to United States. After receiving clandestine help from friends and humorous advice from a veteran immigrant on strategies for traveling, they make their way by truck, bus and other means to Los Angeles, where they try to make a new life as young, uneducated, and illegal immigrants.”
Parks Library–Media Center PARKS Media Center: Media Collection (DVD 003 728)

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