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Made in LASpread the Word

Made in L.A. screens in Capitol Hill to put a human face on immigration

Frank Sharry, America's Voice; Congresman Luis Gutierrez; filmmaker Almudena Carracedo; Congreswoman Diane Watson, filmmaker Robert Bahar; and Bill Mefford, United Methodist Church/ Interfaith Immigration Coalition
We just went to Washington DC last week for a screening of Made in L.A. on Capitol Hill. For the last year and a half, since we had our broadcast premiere at PBS's POV series POV the day after Labor Day 2007, we have been traveling with Made in L.A. in order 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. This Congressional screening was part of this effort -in the midst of the Hispanic Congressional Caucus's Historic Family Unity listening tour, congressional leaders and community leaders came together to discuss the current state of the immigration debate and groundbreaking grassroots work happening across the country.

Sally Jo Fifer, ITVS; filmmaker Almudena Carracedo; Congresmember Diane Watson; filmmaker Robert Bahar; and Simon Kilmurry, American Documentary | POV.
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.

Congreswoman Diane Watson applauds Made in L.A. during her opening remarks.

It was quite impressive to be there and to listen to the comments of these community leaders and congress members. 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. And who among us would not fight for a better life, and a safe life, and fair working conditions for their family, our children and our community? These inspiring women found strength in numbers and fought until justice and equality prevailed. 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."

Congresman Luis Gutierrez speaks passionately about Made in L.A.

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 Made in L.A. and later added: "Made in LA 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

Frank Sharry, Founder and Executive Director of America's Voice, framed the film with passion and humanity: "Those of you who get a chance to watch this film, many of you will have the same experience that I've had countless times. I get asked all the time why does some middle class white guy work on an issue that mainly affects working class Latino immigrants. And I'll tell you why, it's because I've had the opportunity through unusual circumstances to get to know thousands of people and their life stories. And once you know, everything's different. I love the title, "Made in L.A." cause it speaks to that "are they ‘them' or are they ‘us'." And I think this country will be so much better off when we realize that the ‘thems' are ‘us' in everything but paperwork and that when the ‘thems' become ‘us', ‘us' will become much stronger. Our hearts will be more open, our country will be stronger, and we will live true to ideals that we sometimes forget. So I think ‘Made in L.A.' is ... a beautiful film, and I think that it 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."

Bill Mefford, Interfaith Immigration Coalition; Angela Kelley, Immigration Policy Center; filmmaker Almudena Carracedo; and Congreswoman Diane Watson during the panel discussion.

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.

Senior Vice President of Television Content at the Corporation For Public Broadcasting Ted Garcia highlighted the story and mission of Made in L.A. and acknowledged the many partners that came together to make the film possible: "Made in L.A. highlights some of the reasons why public service media is so crucial... I'm so pleased that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting through our support of ITVS, POV and Latino Public Broadcasting has played a role in ensuring that this story would be told." We were also touched by Sally 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."

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.



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