Film Review: Those Who Remain

October 23, 2009 by Stephen Piggott · Comment
Filed under: Film Review, Immigration 

Imagine you are a child again, lying in bed asleep when all of a sudden you are awakened by your father. He kisses you on the cheek and says “goodbye”. Seven years later he returns from ‘up North’ but now you are 14 and to each other you are almost unrecognizable.

This is the hardship that thousands of Mexican families go through each year when the men of the family head to the United States in search of work. Those Who Remain documents exactly what the title says, those family members who are left behind, almost always women in children.

The film examines a wide range of families from all corners of Mexico, some live without electricity, others living in a second home built with the money sent back from up North, and still others trying to cope with the death of a husband and father who will never return home. Read more

District 9 Reviewed

August 22, 2009 by Jill Garvey · 1 Comment
Filed under: Film Review 

In the opening few minutes of District 9 I was really excited at the possibility that it was going to be intelligent cine-commentary on the horrors of Apartheid, ethnic cleansing, and segregation. But it’s not smart, not true to history, and just when you think it’s going to bust open racial stereotypes it perpetuates them instead. It says a lot about transformation and human destruction, but in a way that feels shallow and simplistic.  Movie critic Armond White aptly describes it this way,

It’s been 33 years since South Africa’s Soweto riots stirred the world’s disgust with that country’s regime where legal segregation kept blacks “apart” and in “hoods” (thus, Apartheid) unequal to whites. District 9’s sci-fi concept celebrates—yes, that’s the word—Soweto’s legacy by ignoring the issues of self-determination (where a mass demonstration by African students on June 16, 1976, protested their refusal to learn the dominant culture’s Afrikaans language). District 9 also trivializes the bloody outcome where an estimated 500 students were killed, by ignoring that complex history and enjoying its chaos.

(this is where you stop reading if you don’t want me to spoil the plot twists for you). Read more

Despite Racism, Blacks Part Waters to Swim

July 6, 2009 by Eric Ward · 7 Comments
Filed under: American Identity, Film Review, Sports 

I’ve heard all my life that “Black people don’t swim.” “Do too!” I would respond. When I was three it was impossible to get me out of the tub, at 15 I was biking down to Sunset Beach almost every day to boogie board (I still have the scar to show for it). At 16 I piloted my first boat and at 17 I even pre-enlisted in the U.S. Navy to sail the high seas. Perhaps it is because I grew up close to the ocean in S. California, or as some of my hippy friends like to point out, because I was born under the water sign of Cancer.

Whatever the reason I’ve always felt close to water and I find it is such an irony that I didn’t learn to swim until I turned 14. Until that summer when I tenaciously taught myself to swim, I, like most Black and Latino youth, carried on a love/hate relationship with swimming pools, lakes, rivers, and the ocean. Read more

Reviewed: Food, Inc.

June 28, 2009 by Jill Garvey · 1 Comment
Filed under: Film Review, Food Justice, Health, Immigration 

Even as someone who has extensive knowledge of the US food system, this film was shocking. An extremely absorbing two-hour look into the US food system from seed to sale. From the farmers whose every decision is controlled by giant corporations to the mother who lost her little boy to E. Coli, Food, Inc. keeps the focus on real people. Nice to see too, a film that goes beyond the usual complaints about Wal-Mart and gets down to the hidden culprits, like Monsanto, Smithfield, Tyson, the FDA, etc.

“You look at the labels and you see farmer this, farmer that. It’s really just three or four companies that are controlling the meat. We’ve never had food companies this big and this powerful in our history.”

– Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation.”
Read more

Frozen River, Reviewed

February 27, 2009 by Guest Blogger · Comment
Filed under: Culture, Film Review 

By Jane Beckett

When is a boundary not a boundary? The 2008 movie Frozen River takes place on and near the Mohawk Indian Reservation, which sits astride the US-Canada boundary between upstate New York and Quebec. But the St. Lawrence River, which is an international boundary both upstream and downstream from the Rez, is not a boundary to the Mohawk nation.

Not only is the river not a boundary, but many of the laws that apply in the US and in Canada, hold no force on the reservation. In addition, the poverty and isolation that are rampant here and on other reservations in both countries mean that there’s no need to try to exclude opportunity-seekers, because few see opportunity on reservations. And thereby hangs an interesting and cautionary tale of two women, one Mohawk and one white, trying to earn a living in an unpromising environment. Haunted by need, they turn to smuggling Chinese and Pakistani immigrants from Canada to the US across this icy boundary that isn’t guarded because it isn’t a boundary. Read more

E-Verify Out of Stimulus Package

February 16, 2009 by Jill Garvey · Comment
Filed under: Economy, Film Review, Immigration, International, Politics 

The economy is saved! Ok maybe not, but the passing of the $787 billion stimulus package will hopefully start providing desperately needed movement. In the press I’ve been hearing a lot of Republicans whining that the bill wasn’t bipartisan, that they were basically railroaded. Interestingly, the Republican politicians responsible for heavy amendments to the bill didn’t even vote for it. Emptywheel breaks it down for us…

Tom Coburn, Chuck Grassley, and Susan Collins. They’re the ones responsible for the way this bill looks.

And fricking Coburn and Grassley won’t even have the decency to vote for their own handiwork. That’s the new definition of “bipartisan”: three Republicans screw with a bill, and in the end, only one of them even votes for it.

Read more

Lessons from Liberia: Pray the Devil Back to Hell

November 15, 2008 by Rev. David L. Ostendorf · Comment
Filed under: Film Review 

Not unlike other international news lost in the maelstrom of the last eight years, the plunge of Liberia into utter, horrific chaos didn’t warrant significant U.S. news coverage or response. Not surprising. After all, Liberia is in Africa (country or a continent?) and even though it was born of former slaves from these shores it—like most African nations and peoples—seldom grabs U.S. attention. Read more

W., Reviewed

November 8, 2008 by Jill Garvey · Comment
Filed under: Film Review 

When I heard director Oliver Stone was making a movie about George W. Bush, I was intrigued. So intrigued, in fact, I bought my tickets ahead of time and waited in line with my boyfriend to get into the theater. As we waited, the previous showing was emptying out. The looks on the faces of exiting moviegoers should have been indication enough to drop our tickets and run. Nobody was smiling or talking, just a solemn, silent procession out of the theater. Two hours and nine minutes later I understood why. Read more

Anti-Immigrant Groups Spread Lies & Contribute to Voter Discrimination

November 3, 2008 by Jill Garvey · 3 Comments
Filed under: American Identity, Film Review, Politics 

Social Contract Press spreads lies about voter fraud and contributes to suppression of the voting rights of Latino citizens. Anti-Latino groups, like the FIRE Coalition, are using SCP’s false findings to encourage their followers to man the polls and discriminate against whomever they perceive as “illegal aliens”.  This is voter suppression and it’s downright un-American.

Read more

No Blacks, Immigrants or Aliens Allowed;Review of The Brother From Another Planet

August 18, 2008 by Guest Blogger · Comment
Filed under: Film Review 

By Walidah Imarisha

I have probably seen John Sayles’ The Brother From Another Planet (1984) almost a dozen times. I first saw it when I was in high school, bored, flipping through our cable channels. I was skeptical at first, given the low budget special effects, but the film quickly sucked me in. Last year I taught in a college course my co-instructor and I put together called Race and Gender in Science Fiction Film. Through all my viewings, that was my first experience watching it with a large group of people and I fell in love with the film al over again for its uncompromising politics, its connections between people of color, and its biting wit.
Read more

Black Superheroes Wanted

July 24, 2008 by Guest Blogger · 1 Comment
Filed under: Film Review 

By Walidah Imarisha
Warning: Spoilers ahead!

How do you make a movie that relies entirely on America’s sordid racial history, without ever talking about race? Ask the makers of Hancock, they seem to have it down pat.

John Hancock [Will Smith] is a superhero that protects Los Angeles, begrudgingly. Drunk, foul mouthed, bedraggled, sexist, homophobic and ethnically insensitive, he’s about as far from a Superman as you’re ever going to get. But we find out that all Hancock needs is a little TLC.

A blow to the head 80 years ago erased his memory, so he lives in isolation from society, saving it without being of it. But all that changes when he meets Ray Embrey read more

Batman: Hoping for a Dark Knight

July 19, 2008 by Guest Blogger · 1 Comment
Filed under: Culture, Film Review 

You will undoubtedly read and/or hear about the latest Batman film, The Dark Knight, in some form or another sometime in the next few weeks. Critics will rave about it, fans will recommend it, and kids will demand that parents take them to it. These are the ways things work in read more

Pop-Culture: The Monsters are Coming!

July 2, 2008 by Sarah Viets · Comment
Filed under: Culture, Film Review 

Don’t forget, it’s a conspiracy! While our national leaders repeatedly speak of red and orange terrorist alerts, while they warn us of “illegal” invaders, our American leaders inspire fear.
Or do they?

Why am I so jittery? Do I subconsciously mistrust what’s unknowingly familiar? And if so, what am I so uncertain about?

Do we crave fear, or do politicians campaign on behalf of trepidation?

Science fiction and horror movie reels are no longer a past-time fave. They’re here and each show is filled with wide-eyed anxious moviegoers: But why?

Recently a friend of mine urged me to see what the fuss was all about.

My nerves were loose and as read more

Who You Calling Illegal, Pilgrim: Children of Men review

June 19, 2008 by Guest Blogger · Comment
Filed under: Film Review 

By Walidah Imarisha

“As a struggle for the rights of immigrants and against discrimination emerged, Haitians and Dominicans began to coalesce, but the Irish were a bit stand-offish. Immigrant rights activists were at first perplexed until they uncovered that the Irish were being encouraged by Irish American politicians to keep themselves separate from other immigrant groups because it was likely read more

Audio: 2050 Inaugural Blogcast!

June 16, 2008 by Noah Chandler · 3 Comments
Filed under: American Identity, Film Review, podcast 

Yes! The Imagine 2050 podcast is here. It’s a simple beginning for a wonderful project and I look forward to growing right along-side all of you.

This week we are at the screening of a documentary film in San Francisco. The film, Calavera Highway, is a deeply touching movie that follows a Mexican-American family as its seven brothers’ grapple with identifying their read more