I’ve found that video can be a valuable tool for communicating scholarly research to broader audiences and advocating for underrepresented groups. You can read about my thoughts on social science research and filmmaking in Perspectives on Politics and The Monkey Cage.
I made my first documentary The Other Side of Immigration (55 min) while conducting a survey of 700 Mexican households for my Ph.D. thesis. The Other Side of Immigration was named an American Library Association Notable Video of 2011 and has screened had more than a 150 film festivals and universities. It was previously distributed by Netflix and is now available to stream on Amazon, iTunes, and other sites where films and DVDs are sold. It’s also on the shelves of libraries worldwide. This is the trailer:
In 2014, I wrote, directed, and narrated a documentary series called Immigrant America, which was distributed by Vice News. This work is more narrative and journalistic, but is nevertheless influenced by my training as a political scientist. You can watch all of these films below at no cost.
Episode 1 of the series is called “The High Cost of Deporting Parents” (25 min). It follows Ray Jesus, who was deported to Guatemala after 20+ years in the United States, and his wife Kacie and children, who are American citizens living in Utah. It won the Audience Award at the 2015 Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival and was featured by WYNC’s Brian Lehrer Show.
Episode 2 is called “They Steal Our Jobs?” (23 min). This documentary explores how deportation quotas and an immigrant detention center have complicated life for dairy farms and dairy workers in Western New York and led to an increase in racial profiling. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding pieces I have worked on.
Episode 3 is called “Murder and Migration in Honduras” (14 min). This documentary investigates the uptick in migration of families and unaccompanied children from Honduras since 2009. It was featured on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes.
I also independently produced a short documentary called “A Mexican Sound” (13 min). It is about the music and culture of a region of Mexico called the Huasteca. I first visited the Huasteca in 2005 while conducting fieldwork on migration to the United States. I learned that while this area has been changed dramatically by migration, residents have also invested a great deal in maintaining the region’s unique traditions.
Here is the film in English:
Here it is en español: