For Immediate Release—Monday, March 19, 2007
Mary E. McCrank
Media Relations Officer
SUNY Geneseo Will Offer Monthlong Immigration Series in April
GENESEO, N.Y.—The State University of New York at Geneseo will offer a monthlong series about the relevant and current topic of immigration to give prominence to the human faces that are at the heart of the immigration debate. All discussions and film screenings are free and open to the public. Donations taken at the door will benefit Geneseo's Migrant Center.
The goal of the college's Immigration Series is to heighten the community's awareness about the critical relevance of immigration issues to the nation and our region, said Rose McEwen, coordinator of Geneseo's Latin American Studies Program and associate professor of foreign languages and literatures.
"In the past decade, and especially post-9/11, immigration has become a term certain to stir up much debate across all spectrums of American society," said McEwen, who organized the series. "Congress alone has been wrangling about immigration reform for several years, with the debate growing in intensity after the House of Representatives passed an enforcement bill in December of 2005 that impelled the U.S. Senate to intensify its participation in the debate and immigration advocates to take to the streets."
"But as the country waits for Congress to resolve the debate on how best to enact immigration reform, do we really know who are the immigrants about whom our government and Americans have so readily become experts and whose present and future we are about to decide?" asks McEwen.
One of the highlights of the Immigration Series will be a talk by Tin Dirdamal, director of "De nadie," which won the Sundance Film Festival's Audience Award for World Cinema in 2006. All events will be held on Thursdays in 204 Newton Hall. Here is a line-up of the documentaries and discussions that will be held throughout April:
"Globalization in Latin America and the Global Justice Movement: A Narrative Picture-Lecture," 6 p.m. April 5. Beehive Design Collective, a grassroots activist organization headquartered in Machias, Maine, will present the event. The mission of Beehive Design Collective is to build strong, functional connections between activists that use words, and those that speak in pictures, to help create more accessible, powerful campaigns for the important issues of our time. Through lectures illustrated by murals and graphic designs that Collective members create, this organization envisions a world where cultural work and popular education are not segregated from the "box" of how movements for social change speak to issues.
"El inmigrante," 7 p.m. April 5. Filmed in the U.S. and Mexico, the documentary was produced in 2005. Discussant: Edward Drachman, professor of political science and international relations."El inmigrante" is a documentary film that examines the Mexican and American border crisis by telling the story of Eusebio de Haro, a young Mexican migrant who was shot and killed during one of his journeys north. The film presents a distinct humanitarian focus in which story and character take precedent over policy and empiricism. Toward this end, "El inmigrante" examines the perspectives of a diverse cast of players in this border narrative. The cast includes the de Haro family; the community of Brackettville, Texas (where Eusebio was shot); members of vigilante border militias in Arizona; the horseback border patrol in El Paso; and migrants en route to an uncertain future in the U.S. The film has won numerous awards at film festivals across the country. The Web site for the film is www.elinmigrantemovie.com.
"Wetback: The Undocumented Documentary," 7 p.m. April 12. Directed by Arturo Perez Torres, the documentary was filmed in the U.S., Mexico and Nicaragua. Produced in 2005, the film runs 90 minutes. Discussants: Gretchen Rosales, a Geneseo graduate student in the Shear School of Education and Spanish teacher in the Kendall School District; Rose McEwen, associate professor of foreign languages and literatures at Geneseo. "Wetback" follows in the footsteps of immigrants traveling from Nicaragua to the U.S. On their journeys, they encounter gangs and vigilantes, as well as border patrol. The director follows these individuals as they navigate real-life nightmares with uncanny calm, grace and even humor. The film has won numerous awards at film festivals across the U.S., Canada and Spain. The Web site for the film is www.opencityworks.com/wetback.
"De nadie" ("Of Nobody"),7 p.m. April 19. Directed by Tin Dirdamal, the film was shot in Mexico and runs 82 minutes. Dirdamal will be on hand to introduce his film and lead a discussion. Born in 1982 in Mexico, Dirdamal has a background in engineering. Without any cinematographical experience, he first took a camera and made this film—his first feature documentary. He continues making films in an attempt to better understand how we as human beings relate. He is currently working on a film about the future of water. In "De nadie," Dirdamal explores the fact that individuals who leave their countries in hopes of a better life in America have a rough road ahead of them. He follows a number of refugees in a south Mexican refugee center, from where they hitch illegal rides on freight trains to the northern border. "De nadie" won the Sundance Film Festival's Audience Award for World Cinema in 2006 and has been the official selection at festivals around the world. The film has won more than 15 awards at film festivals in Mexico, the U.S., Spain, France and Iceland.
"The Guestworker: Bienvenidos a Carolina del Norte," 7 p.m. April 26. Directed by Cynthia Hill and Charles Thompson, it was filmed in the U.S. and released in 2006. Discussants: Representatives of Geneseo's and Brockport's Migrant Centers. "The Guestworker" tells the story of Don Candelario Gonzalez Moreno, a 66-year old Mexican farmer who has been coming to the U.S. since the 1960s as a farm laborer. He is some 20 to 40 years older than all the thousands of Mexican men who work in today's United States' H2A Guest Worker program started in 1986. Despite his age, he continues to work long hours in tobacco, cucumber and pepper fields, sweating and worrying—all for his family, particularly his ailing wife. He says he still wants to work "harder than all the others" as he did when he was a younger man, but now knows he just can't. Yet he is asked back, year after year, because of his commitment to hard work, his "good attitude," and his long-term service to Wester Farms in North Carolina. We follow him through one grueling season, learning about one man's life in-depth, and through this intimate and personal story we learn about this little-known guest worker program now already in existence for 20 years. The Web site for the film is www.docsouth.com.
The college's Immigration Series is sponsored by the Latin American Studies Program; departments of anthropology, English, foreign languages and literatures, geography, history, international relations and political sciences; the School of the Arts; the Environmental Sciences Program; and the Alan Lutkus International Film Series Committee.