“Through the judicious use of secondary theoretical, critical, archival, and journalistic sources, this excellent and comprehensive collection surveys Latin American documentaries that focus on pertinent sociopolitical and historical issues. An original contribution to Chicano/Latino studies.”—David William Foster, author of São Paulo: Perspectives on the City and Cultural Production
“Timely and engaging. Focuses on seldom seen but incredibly powerful narratives that shed light on the travails and struggles that immigrants face, including deportation, raids, and detention.”—Tamara Falicov, author of The Cinematic Tango: Contemporary Argentine Film
In the media, migrants are often portrayed as criminals; they are frequently dehumanized, marginalized, and unable to share their experiences. Telling Migrant Stories: Latin American Diaspora in Documentary Film explores how contemporary documentary film gives voice to Latin American immigrants whose stories would not otherwise be heard.
The essays in the first part of the volume consider the documentary as a medium for Latin American immigrants to share their thoughts and experiences on migration, border crossings, displacement, and identity. Contributors analyze films including Harvest of Empire, Sin país, The Vigil, De nadie, Operation Peter Pan: Flying Back to Cuba, Abuelos, La Churona, and Which Way Home, as well as internet documentaries distributed via platforms such as Vimeo and YouTube. They examine the ways these films highlight the individual agency of immigrants as well as the global systemic conditions that lead to mass migrations from Latin American countries to the United States and Europe.
The second part of the volume features transcribed interviews with documentary filmmakers, including Luis Argueta, Jenny Alexander, Tin Dirdamal, Heidi Hassan, and María Cristina Carrillo Espinosa. They discuss the issues surrounding migration, challenges they faced in the filmmaking process, the impact their films have had, and their opinions on documentary film as a force of social change. They emphasize that because the genre is grounded in fact rather than fiction, it has the ability to profoundly impact audiences in a way narrative films cannot. Documentaries prompt viewers to recognize the many worlds migrants depart from, to become immersed in the struggles portrayed, and to consider the stories of immigrants with compassion and solidarity.
Esteban E. Loustaunau is associate professor of Spanish at Assumption College. Lauren E. Shaw, associate professor of Spanish at Elmira College, is the editor of Song and Social Change in Latin America.