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Use Films to Learn About Immigrant and Civil Rights

Videos are an excellent way to learn about current issues related to immigrant and civil rights. They are particularly helpful in group sessions, so plan a film screening and discussion in your church or with community groups! Check out websites for films—often they include discussion questions and tools for planning a film screening.

Films to Consider:

Crossing Arizona (2006)

With Americans on all sides of the issue up in arms and Congress embroiled in a knock-down, drag-out policy battle over how to move forward, Crossing Arizona shows how we got to where we are today. The documentary examines the crisis on the border through the eyes of those directly affected by it—frustrated ranchers, humanitarian groups, political activists, farmers and the Minutemen. Crossing Arizona reveals the surprising political stances people take when immigration and border policy fails everyone.

Jasmine’s Story

New from United Methodist Communications, this12-minute video features a true story about Jasmine, a Michigan teen who found solace in The United Methodist Church when the complications of immigration left her alone. The website also includes bulletin graphics, promotional poster designs and newspaper ads to help you educate your community. You will find supplementary resources including videos to use all year in Sunday school or in worship as sermon illustrations, study material for Sunday schools or neighborhood Bible studies, and informational pieces to help you jump-start a new understanding of immigration.

Made in LA (2008)

This Emmy award winning documentary featured on PBS is about three undocumented women garment workers living and working in Los Angeles. It is a very personal, human story that puts a face on the immigrant experience and draws parallels between today’s immigrants and those whose families came to the United States generations ago. Visit www.madeinla.com to see a clip and to learn how you can purchase a toolkit for organizing a home or community showing of the film.
Click to download a print-friendly PDF versionDownload a study guide
by Bishop Minerva Carcano (PDF, 55pp, 2.2M) on how to organize a screening, United Methodist policy on immigration and discussion questions.

Maquilapolis (2006)

Just over the border in Mexico is an area peppered with maquiladoras—massive factories often owned by the world’s largest multinational corporations. Carmen and Lourdes work at maquiladoras in Tijuana, where each day they confront labor violations, environmental devastation and urban chaos. In this lyrical documentary, the women reach beyond the daily struggle for survival to organize for change, taking on both the Mexican and U.S. governments and a major television manufacturer. This explores root causes of why people migrate.

This documentary follows the native and immigrant factory workers of Morristown, Tenn., whose livelihoods are drastically impacted by globalization. Filmed in the mountains of east Tennessee, interior Mexico and Ciudad Juarez, Morristown is a one-hour documentary about the impact of corporate globalization, free trade and immigration policy on working people’s lives. In factories, fields, union halls, Mexican stores, city parks and employment agencies, working families speak intimately about their lives, work, disappointments and dreams. The documentary travels to the U.S.-Mexico border to create a deeper understanding of factory flight out of Morristown and to interior Mexico to look at the forces that cause immigration. It also documents poultry workers’ courageous efforts to organize to address their problems, and ends with a stunning union victory at a large processing plant in Morristown.

Not In Our Town: Light in the Darkness—The Patchogue Story (2011)

This is a one-hour documentary about a town coming together to take action after anti-immigrant violence devastates the community. In 2008, a series of attacks against Latino residents of Patchogue, N.Y., culminate with the murder of Marcelo Lucero, an Ecuadorian immigrant who had lived in the Long Island village for 13 years. Over a two-year period, the story follows Mayor Paul Pontieri, Joselo Lucero (Marcelo’s brother) and Patchogue residents as they openly address the underlying causes of the violence, work to heal divisions and begin taking steps to ensure everyone in their village will be safe and respected.

Papers (2009)

There are approximately two million undocumented children who were born outside the United States and raised in this country. Known as DREAMers, these are young people who were educated in American schools, hold American values, know only the United States as home and yet risk deportation to countries they may not even remember. Papers is the story of these undocumented youth and the challenges they face as they turn 18 without legal status.

Under the Same Moon (2007)

Rosario has gone to the United States to seek work and her son Carlitos, 9, embarks on a journey to find her. “An inspirational tale of a mother’s devotion, a son’s courage and a love that knows no borders.”

Uprooted: Refugees of the Global Economy (2001)

This compelling documentary from the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights focuses on how the global economy has forced people to leave their home countries. Uprooted presents three stories of immigrants who left their homes in Bolivia, Haiti and the Philippines after global economic powers devastated their countries, only to face new challenges in the United States. These powerful stories raise critical questions about U.S. immigration policy in an era when corporations cross borders at will. Also available in Spanish. Discussion guide available.

The Visitor (2007)

This Oscar-nominated feature-length film is about a Connecticut economics professor whose life is transformed by a chance encounter with immigrants in New York City.

Welcome to Shelbyville (2009)

This documentary is a glimpse of America at a crossroads. In one small town in the heart of America’s Bible Belt in the South, a community grapples with rapidly changing demographics. Longtime African-American and white residents are challenged with how best to integrate with a growing Latino population and the more recent arrival of hundreds of Somali refugees of Muslim faith. The film explores immigrant integration and the interplay between race, religion and identity in this dynamic dialogue. The story is an intimate portrayal of a community’s struggle to understand what it means to be American.

Note: if you use a feature film for educational purposes, please preview first. Many contain violence or other content that may be inappropriate to some groups. These films may be useful tools but their listing here is not an endorsement by United Methodist Women.


© 2014 United Methodist Women