Birth on the Border

This intimate and personal documentary follows two women from Ciudad Juárez as they cross the U.S.-Mexico border legally to give birth in Texas, putting their hearts and bodies on the line as they confront harassment at the hands of U.S. border officials. One million people legally cross the U.S.-Mexico border every day in both directions. Among them are women who cross for the purposes of childbirth. With the threat of obstetrical violence in Mexican hospitals and the desire for natural birth with midwives, Gaby and Luisa make the difficult decision to cross the border to El Paso, seeking a safer future for their children. Even with papers, their journeys are uncertain. Against the backdrop of oppressive U.S. border policy and growing debates over immigration, these women's stories of risk, strength, and resilience shed light on the realities and challenges of life on the border.
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Ovarian Psycos

Riding at night through streets deemed dangerous in Eastside Los Angeles, the Ovarian Psycos use their bicycles to confront the violence in their lives. At the helm of the crew is founder Xela de la X, a single mother and poet M.C. dedicated to recruiting an unapologetic, misfit crew of women of color. The film intimately chronicles Xela as she struggles to strike a balance between her activism and nine year old daughter Yoli; street artist Andi who is estranged from her family and journeys to become a leader within the crew; and bright eyed recruit Evie, who despite poverty, and the concerns of her protective Salvadoran mother, discovers a newfound confidence. The film Ovarian Psycos rides along with the Ova’s, exploring the impact of the group’s activism, born of feminist ideals, Indigenous understanding and an urban/hood mentality, on neighborhood women and communities as they confront injustice, racism, and violence, and take back their streets one ride at a time.
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Portraits of a Search

More than 20,000 people disappeared in Mexico during the horrifically violent war on drugs waged by former President Calderon. With each missing person, a family is left behind in a desperate search to get answers from a government that is suspiciously ambivalent. Putting a human face on the most harrowing of statistics, director Alicia Calderon courageously captures the stories of three mothers - Natividad, Guadalupe, and Margarita - as they search for their children who have gone missing. One mother constantly retraces the last steps of her son, combing empty fields for his body; another travels all the way to Washington, DC, to plead for US intervention; and the last simply tries to forget the emptiness and raise her now-motherless grandson. In one of the most powerful documentaries about the human casualties of the Mexican narco-wars, these women’s stories are among the many that stand for truth and justice for the 26,000 missing people in Mexico today. With their lives now completely devoted to seeking out the truth, they pursue any avenue possible, in the face of an indifferent government which considers their loved ones to be "collateral casualties" of the drug war.
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Ni Aquí, Ni Allá (Neither Here, Nor There)

NI AQUI, NI ALLA illuminates the challenges facing an undocumented college student and her family. Blanca, a second-year student at the University of California, Berkeley, crossed the border from Mexico into the United States with her parents when she was a child. As a student under the California DREAM Act who possess DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Blanca qualifies for financial aid and has temporary protection from deportation, though her undocumented parents, who live and work in California's agricultural Central Valley, do not. NI AQUI, NI ALLA paints an intimate portrait of an undocumented family as they support each other during a turning point in their lives and stay together through the distance. At a time in this country’s history where the debate around immigration is highly contested and demands to close the border are in the daily news, NEITHER HERE, NOR THERE paints a very human face on an issue that many use simply as partisan, political fodder. Essential viewing for Anthropology, Sociology and Multicultural and Immigration Studies.
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A Crushing Love

A CRUSHING LOVE, Sylvia Morales’ sequel to her groundbreaking history of Chicana women, CHICANA (1979), honors the achievements of five activist Latinas—labor organizer/farm worker leader Dolores Huerta, author/educator Elizabeth “Betita” Martinez, writer/playwright/educator Cherrie Moraga, civil rights advocate Alicia Escalante, and historian/writer Martha Cotera - and considers how these single mothers managed to be parents and effect broad-based social change at the same time. Questions about reconciling competing demands are ones that highly acclaimed filmmaker Sylvia Morales, a working mother of two herself, pondered aloud as she prepared this documentary. Historical footage and recent interviews with each woman reveal their contributions to key struggles for Latino empowerment and other major movements of our time. Both they and their grown children thoughtfully explore the challenges, adaptations, rewards, and missteps involved in juggling dual roles. Scenes of Morales at work and at home, often humorously overlaid with her teenage daughter’s commentary, bring the dilemma up to date. Chicana continues to be used in classrooms more than thirty years after it was made; A CRUSHING LOVE is a memorable sequel which offers us indelible portraits of unforgettable women, including one of Morales herself.
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Everyone Their Grain of Sand

This award-winning documentary reveals the struggles of the citizens of Maclovio Rojas in Tijuana, Mexico as they battle the state government’s attempts to evict them from their homes to make way for multi-national corporations seeking cheap land and labor. Filmmaker Beth Bird followed the fiercely determined residents for three years as they persistently petitioned the state for basic services like running water, electricity and pay for their teachers, only to be met with bureaucratic stonewalling. Eventually, several community leaders are targeted for persecution, and one is arrested while others are forced into hiding. Balancing these stories of hardship, Bird also captures intimate scenes of daily life in Maclovio Rojas, revealing hard-won triumphs such as the building of a school by hand and the graduation of an elementary school class. This compelling and ultimately inspiring documentary is an eye-opening look at the human cost of globalization and a moving testament to the power of grassroots activism.
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Señorita Extraviada, Missing Young Woman

SENORITA EXTRAVIADA, MISSING YOUNG WOMAN tells the haunting story of the more than 350 kidnapped, raped and murdered young women of Juárez, Mexico. Visually poetic, yet unflinching in its gaze, this compelling investigation unravels the layers of complicity that have allowed for the brutal murders of women living along the Mexico-U.S. border. In the midst of Juárez’s international mystique and high profile job market, there exists a murky history of grossly underreported human rights abuses and violence against women. The climate of violence and impunity continues to grow, and the murders of women continue to this day. Relying on what Portillo comes to see as the most reliable of sources – the testimonies of the families of the victims –SEÑORITA EXTRAVIADA, MISSING YOUNG WOMAN documents a two-year search for the truth in the underbelly of the new global economy. An Independent Television Service (ITVS) Production.
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La Boda

In an intimate portrait of migrant life along the U.S.-Mexican border, Hannah Weyer’s new film LA BODA delves into the challenges faced by a community striving to maintain their roots in Mexico, while pursuing the “American Dream” across the border. Weyer’s camera follows Elizabeth Luis during the weeks before her marriage to Artemio Guerrero, interweaving the anticipation of the upcoming wedding with candid stories that explore the architecture of the Luis family. For 22-year-old Elizabeth, migrant life has meant shouldering responsibilities beyond those of an average young adult. Along with her seven siblings, she has contributed to the family income throughout her adolescence and young adulthood, often forced to sacrifice school for fieldwork and social life for travel as she and her family move between Texas, California and Mexico. LA BODA tells the timeless story of a young woman’s coming of age, while also confronting negative stereotypes of the migrant community with the real life biography of a Mexican-American family bridging the gap between countries and culture.
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CORPUS: A Home Movie for Selena

This classic rerelease from award-winning filmmaker Lourdes Portillo (Señorita Extraviada, Las Madres: The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo ) is a complex tribute to Selena, the Tejana superstar gunned down in 1995 at the age of 23 by the president of her fan club, just as she was on the brink of blockbuster crossover fame. While the story of her murder, which was filled with sex, glamour and betrayal, caught the attention of many outside the Chicano community, this film moves well beyond the sensational to present a nuanced feminist analysis of Selena's story. Clips of rare home movies, family photos, and glossy music videos from later in Selena's career are interspersed with lively conversations with her father, sister and Latina intellectuals that shed light into just who Selena was and what makes her such a powerful figure today. Staying true to the “home movie” feel, Portillo interviews ordinary people in Selena's hometown of Corpus Christie, including starry-eyed teenaged fans and tearful strangers who visit her grave. With a compassionate lens, Portillo places Selena's life and legacy in a cultural context, revealing powerful social forces that transformed a popular entertainer into a Chicana cultural icon turned modern-day saint.
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Performing the Border

A video essay set in the Mexican-U.S. border town of Ciudad Juarez, where U.S. multinational corporations assemble electronic and digital equipment just across from El Paso, Texas. This imaginative, experimental work investigates the growing feminization of the global economy and its impact on Mexican women living and working in the area. Looking at the border as both a discursive and material space, the film explores the sexualization of the border region through labor division, prostitution, the expression of female desires in the entertainment industry, and sexual violence in the public sphere. Candid interviews with Mexican women factory and sex workers, as well as activists and journalists, are combined with scripted voiceover analysis, screen text, scenes and sounds recorded on site, and found footage to give new insights into the gendered conditions inscribed by the high-tech industry at its low-wage end.
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The Devil Never Sleeps

Academy Award nominated filmmaker Lourdes Portillo (LAS MADRES: THE MOTHERS OF PLAZA DE MAYO) mines the complicated intersections of analysis and autobiography, evidence and hypothesis, even melodrama and police procedure in this ground-breaking work. Early one Sunday morning, the filmmaker receives a phone call informing her that her beloved Tio (Uncle) Oscar Ruiz Almeida has been found dead of a gunshot wound to the head in Chihuahua, Mexico. His widow declares his death a suicide. Most of his family, however, cry murder and point to a number of suspects that include the widow herself. The filmmaker returns to the land of her birth to investigate her uncle's identity and death. Finding clues in old tales of betrayal, lust, and supernatural visitation, Portillo blends traditional and experimental techniques to capture the nuances of Mexican social and family order. Poetic and tragic, humorous and mythic, this film crosses the borders of personal values, cultural mores, and the discipline of filmmaking in a fascinating look at family mysteries. THE DEVIL NEVER SLEEPS was funded by the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funds provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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The Desert Is No Lady

With provocative imagery and spirited juxtapositions, THE DESERT IS NO LADY looks at the Southwest through the eyes of its leading contemporary women artists and writers, including author Sandra Cisneros. The nine women profiled are Pat Mora (poet), Sandra Cisneros (writer), Lucy Tapahonso (poet), Emmi Whitehorse (painter), Harmony Hammond (painter), Meridel Rubinstein (photographer), Nora Naranjo Morse (sculptor), Pola Lopez de Jaramillo (painter) and Ramona Sakiestewa (tapestry artist). The Southwest is a border territory - where cultures meet and mix - and the work of these nine women from Pueblo, Navajo, Mexican-American and Anglo backgrounds reflects its special characteristics. THE DESERT IS NO LADY is a vibrant celebration of the diversity of women's creativity and changing multicultural America. "An inspiring tapestry of history, imagination and daily life. I highly recommend it." - Vicki L. Ruiz, Arizona State University
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¡Adelante Mujeres!

Spanning five centuries, this comprehensive film, produced by the National Women's History Project, focuses exclusively on the history of Mexican-American/Chicana women from the Spanish invasion to the present. Hundreds of previously unpublished photographs, art works, and contemporary footage pay tribute to the strength and resilience of women at the center of their families, as activists in their communities, and as contributors to American history. A companion to the ground-breaking Chicana, ¡Adelante Mujeres! is suitable for young adult and college-age audiences, and community and women's groups.
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Troubled Harvest

This award-winning documentary examines the lives of women migrant workers from Mexico and Central America as they work in grape, strawberry and cherry harvests in California and the Pacific Northwest. Interviews with women farm workers reveal the dangerous health effects of pesticides on themselves and their children, the problems they encounter as working mothers of young children, and the destructive consequences of U.S. immigration policies on the unity of their families. Featuring an interview with Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union.
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After the Earthquake

This dramatic story follows a young Nicaraguan immigrant, Irene, as she faces the challenges of life in the U.S. and re-evaluates her relationships with her boyfriend and family. AFTER THE EARTHQUAKE explores the immigrant experience, particularly the cultural, political and economic differences between life in North and Latin America. Written with Nina Serrano, Lourdes Portillo was nominated for an Academy Award for her next film, LAS MADRES DE LA PLAZA DE MAYO, produced with Susana Munoz.
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Chicana

CHICANA traces the history of Chicana and Mexican women from pre-Columbian times to the present. It covers women's role in Aztec society, their participation in the 1810 struggle for Mexican independence, their involvement in the US labor strikes in 1872, their contributions to the 1910 Mexican revolution and their leadership in contemporary civil rights causes. Using murals, engravings and historical footage, CHICANA shows how women, despite their poverty, have become an active and vocal part of the political and work life in both Mexico and the United States.
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