MADE IN L.A. Screens on Capitol Hill

Posted on April 9, 2009

Filmmakers Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar went to Washington, D.C. last week for a screening on Capitol Hill of MADE IN L.A., which documents the lives, struggle and personal transformation of three Latina immigrants working in garment factories

This event included comments and conversation with Congresswoman Diane Watson; Congressman Luis Gutierrez, chair of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus’ Immigration Taskforce; Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice; Bill Mefford, director of civil and human rights for the United Methodist Church and a leader of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition; and Angela Kelley, director of the Immigration Policy Center at the American Immigration Law Foundation, with brief opening remarks presented by Ted A. Garcia, senior vice president, television content, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and Sally Jo Fifer, president and CEO of ITVS. Simon Kilmurry, executive director of American Documentary, Inc. | P.O.V., was also in attendance. Read the filmmakers report below for an account of this screening. 

For the last year and a half, since our broadcast premiere on PBS’s P.O.V., we have been traveling with MADE IN L.A.––co-produced by Semilla Verde Productions, Inc., ITVS and American Documentary, Inc. | P.O.V. We wanted to put a human face on the many issues that intersect in the film: immigration and immigrant workers, labor rights, “sweatfree” organizing and women’s empowerment. In recent months, as immigration reform has returned to the national dialogue, we have put special emphasis on providing MADE IN L.A. as a tool to humanize immigrants’ stories. 

We have recently launched a May Day Community Screening Campaign with national organizations in an effort to put a human face on the issues of immigration, immigrant workers' rights, and supporting humane immigration reform. This Capitol Hill screening was part of this effort––in the midst of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus’s Historic Family Unity listening tour, congressional and community leaders came together to discuss the film and the current state of the immigration debate. Congresswoman Diane Watson opened the event, which was sponsored by the Congressional Entertainment Industries Caucus, which she chairs. “As we watch MADE IN L.A., I’d like you to take in the journey that these courageous women made staring directly into the face of adversity and remember one word: perseverance… You’ll see that Lupe and Maura and Maria could have been any of us if born under different circumstances. It is my hope that we as lawmakers and concerned citizens will take the information from today’s film and discussion and apply it to our continuing fight for fair wages, for decent working conditions, and a safe place to work without the threats of abuse regardless of one’s immigration status,” Watson said. 

Congressmember Luis Gutierrez, chair of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus Immigration Taskforce spoke about the Historic Family Unity listening tour and how these experiences have shaped his views on the need for immigration reform. He commented how he cried when he saw the film and later added: "MADE IN L.A. is a breathtaking and deeply touching depiction of the human cost of our immigration crisis. I'm thrilled my colleagues and I had the opportunity to screen this movie on Capitol Hill. I urge anyone who is uncertain about the need for humane reform to see this movie." 

Frank Sharry, founder and executive director of America’s Voice, framed the film with passion and humanity: “MADE IN L.A. is a beautiful film… that will challenge all of us to continue to stretch so that America becomes what it might yet be rather than what it’s recently become. And when we do, I think the ‘stars’ of the movie will make all of us feel proud that we were made in America.” 

The panel that followed the screening explored some of the previous efforts to pass immigration related legislation, and highlighted the wonderful work of the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, Immigration Policy Center, America’s Voice and many other organizations that are working to facilitate a national dialogue around the issues of immigration and immigrant workers. We are happy and honored that MADE IN L.A. was able to contribute, even in a small way, to this national dialogue, and that both the event and the publicity around it helped get the film into the hands of lawmakers, and policy professionals. We were touched by ITVS President and CEO Sally Jo Fifer’s comment that “MADE IN L.A. represents exactly that kind of deep, authentic filmmaking that breaks new ground and brings us new understanding.” 

-Filmmakers Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar

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