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Documentary about a single mother who leaves her ailing daughter behind in Bolivia to find work in New York City in order to support her, and her relationship with another Bolivian illegal immigrant.


Nicholas Bruckman, John Mattiuzzi (co-director)
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Documentary about a single mother who leaves her ailing daughter behind in Bolivia to find work in New York City in order to support her, and her relationship with another Bolivian illegal immigrant.

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One Continent. Two Countries. A World Apart.



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Excellent Educational Resource
13 December 2009 | by cathryncarlisSee all my reviews

Many viewers of La Americana have commented on its power to put a human face on political and economic issues related to immigration. As a teacher at a charter high school for at-risk students, finding such a resource that would connect with students on an emotional and personal level was especially important. When asked to consider immigration policy or global economic realities, many students' first reaction is often, "Why should I care?" or "What does that have to do with me?" Foremost in the minds in my classroom are often not just the social dramas of teenage life, but also their own or their family's struggles with unemployment, financial hardship, mental illness, substance abuse, gang involvement, or unplanned pregnancy and parenthood. Discussing La Americana after our screening, it was clear that the film not only touched their hearts but also inspired them to think more deeply about immigration issues. Furthermore, it helped them see the connection between the injustices suffered by immigrants and the failure of our government to provide safety and security for all people.

Reading students' reflection essays reveals the strong emotional impact of the film. One student, who is the mother of a 18-month old son, wrote, "When I was watching Carmen's story I was very sad, upset, and disappointed in the government. From Carmen's story I learned that immigrants go through a lot, and make many sacrifices. She taught me to do whatever it takes to make sure your family is taken care of." In the words of another classmate, "At first I was just expecting a boring same old documentary but the story line and the dialog really made you feel as if you were interviewing Carmen yourself. Since we are learning about immigration and how they came across, live and why they came here, this movie was the perfect resource. It was definitely a tearjerker and I got very emotional for Carmen. There was one specific quote that Carmen said towards the end of the documentary. 'The words are hollow like the statue, it's just a symbol, not a reality.' I believe that is so true and once I heard that it all came together." I had to smile when reading this - I had mentioned this irony of the inscription on the Statue of Liberty early on in the class when discussing Ellis Island, but it didn't seem to mean much to my class. Coming from Carmen, and knowing that she is just one of millions "yearning to be free," students now have an unforgettable illustration.

It is easy to feel hopeless and overwhelmed by such broad and complex problems. One senior in the class wrote, "I really liked how strong and straightforward everything was. The movie just puts a knot in your throat and waters up your eyes. You really get a feeling of shame and humiliation that your country would do this. Force people to split them apart from their family leaving children and others at home. ... I feel so helpless, like I can't do anything. I feel so bad that people should have to go through this just to get themselves and their family to a better life. For a country that's main motto is freedom I sure don't see it. I don't know if there is a solution to this problem or not." As a teacher, my goal is not just to get students engaged with course material, but also that they would be inspired to transcend hopelessness, take action and see themselves as agents of change. With the interest sparked and students feeling strongly about the issues, our class now is motivated to continue our studies and examine possible solutions, from the personal to the political. Carmen's story has been a touchstone in future class discussions, from debating of the power of language (does it matter if we say "illegal aliens" or "undocumented workers"?) to learning about a recent 'quiet' raid by ICE at a nearby janitorial services company and connecting with local groups working for immigrant rights.

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

17 February 2008 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Bolivia See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

People's Television See more »
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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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