In 1993, when he was 12 years old, Jose Antonio Vargas moved from Manila, where he lived with his mother, to Mountain View, California, where he joined his grandparents. As he discovered when he went to get his driver's license for the first time, however, Vargas had arrived without papers. Both his grandparents were naturalized US citizens, but Vargas was--and still is today--undocumented.Documented
is film about the experience of being undocumented, one that combines crisp reportage on the current deportation crisis with the more personal story of Vargas' migration and his attempts to understand the implications of his status. Although he's worked for a number of national newspapers and won a Pulitzer Prize as part of a team of reporters covering the Virginia Tech shootings, Vargas lives in a kind of legal limbo, under threat of deportation. He's become an advocate for the US's eleven million undocumented immigrants, coming out as undocumented in an article
in the New York Times Magazine in 2011 and organizing a campaign, Define American,
to help others share their experiences and to rally support for immigration reform. The film--Vargas is writer, director, and producer--is his latest attempt to raise consciousness about the plight of undocumented immigrants by telling his own story.
Why am I posting about this documentary here at lgbtq_recs
? First and perhaps most importantly, Vargas himself is gay, and his coming out story figures in the film. But I'm also fascinated by the way the two movements--immigrant and LGBTQ rights--have intersected, often through the efforts of individual activists who claim a place in both movements and who see a parallel between the process of coming out and the efforts of undocumented immigrants to gain visibility and legitimacy in US society. In both cases, there's an effort to shift the terms of the debate from the moralizing language of the right ("get in line," "wait your turn," "don't challenge thousands of years of tradition") to a more inclusive approach that emphasizes the basic rights to work, find a home, and form a family. At the screening I saw last month, the panel of Asian/API, immigrant, and LGBTQ activists who had gathered to discuss it couldn't stop talking about the connections between the two movements and how difficult it was to convince mainstream, predominantly white LGBTQ rights organizations that their issues were relevant.
You can visit the documentary's website
to see the trailer.
There are screenings coming up in several locations over the next few weeks (at theaters in Chicago, Denver, and Orlando, plus a free screening at the Boston Public Library) but the documentary will also be shown on CNN on Sunday, June 29, at 9:00p.
(So sorry to rec something that only seems to be available in the US, folks! I'll update this post when it's available elsewhere.)
ETA: It looks as if there's a preorder streaming option for folks outside the US. (Look under "Watch on CNN.) Thanks, Semi.