Working Films launched the Docs In Action Film Fund in 2018 to support the production of short documentaries that address critical issues of social and environmental justice. This year’s call for proposals sought nonfiction films that tell a fuller story of immigration. We looked for films that reveal the harms perpetuated by immigration enforcement practices that extend beyond the crisis at the border, as well as films that expand popular understanding of immigrants and their varied experiences.

We are excited to announce that we have awarded a total of $60,000 in completion funding to Maya Cueva for Ale Libre, Brian Redondo for Keep Them Home, and Set Hernandez Rongkilyo for COVER/AGE. 

Ale Libre by Maya Cueva 

In 2009, Alejandra was pulled over by a police officer posted outside of a well-known Latinx nightclub, resulting in a DUI. Two years later, she was hit with another DUI for marijuana. During a probation check-in, an unsuspecting Alejandra came face-to-face with two ICE officers who detained her immediately for deportation. After a two year fight, Alejandra was released from the for-profit Eloy Detention Center in Arizona in 2013. While imprisoned, her ideals found strength and she grew to become a fierce abortion rights and immigration rights activist. In March 2018 at an immigrant rights protest outside of the Department of Homeland Security, ICE targeted and detained her again for 40 days in Eloy. In raw, cinema-verite, Ale Libre chronicles Alejandra’s journey as she faces her case for political asylum and her last chance at freedom.

Director Maya Cueva is an award-winning multimedia producer and director. Her work has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, Latino USA, The Atlantic, National Geographic, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, StyleCaster, and NBC’s Nightly News. Maya’s films have screened internationally and across the U.S., including SXSW, Palm Springs International ShortFest, and the International Youth Film Festival Langesund in Norway. She is a 2019 Sundance Ignite Fellow and a Valentine and Clark Emerging Artist Fellow at the Jacob Burns Film Center.

Keep Them Home by Brian Redondo

Far from the southern border, in the outskirts of Boston, Cambodian and Vietnamese refugees are facing their own battle against family separation. ICE is detaining and deporting community members on a scale not seen before. Though families live in uncertain fear, refugees have developed a knack for pulling through. They learn to rally together and are doing everything they can to keep their families intact. This portrait of a community shaken examines the on-the-ground impact of a broken immigration system through the eyes of three families facing the deportation of a loved one. They laugh, they cry, and they fight on.    

Director Brian Redondo is a documentary filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. He is committed to stories from the margins of society, often exploring issues of race, immigration, and how those topics intersect with culture. His most recent short docs, commissioned by PBS’ Art21, “Jes Fan In Flux” and “Doreen Garner Sculpts Our Trauma” illustrate the ways in which the titular artists use sculpture to unpack problems of race and gender. His first short documentaries “Why We Rise” and “The Lookout” explore immigration through the perspectives of undocumented youth in NYC and volunteers aiding refugees in Greece, respectively. He is currently helping shoot a feature documentary about Fat Beats, the iconic hip hop record store, and he is also the senior video editor at The New Yorker.

COVER/AGE by Set Hernandez Rongkilyo

For years, advocates have been organizing to make healthcare access a right for all in California, regardless of their immigration status. Set against the backdrop of California’s Health4All campaign, COVER/AGE follows two leaders who have been championing the immigrant health justice movement in the Golden State. One is an elderly caregiver who has spent over a decade taking care of senior citizens, in spite of being ineligible for the same services she provides due to her immigration status. The other is a long-time community advocate who has been organizing directly-impacted people towards policy change at the intersection of immigrant, health, and gender justice. As the conversation around universal healthcare continues to gain momentum in the national level, this film highlights the urgency of expanding healthcare access to undocumented people by centering the unwavering voices of immigrant health justice leaders.

Director Set Hernandez Rongkilyo is the Impact Videos Producer at the California Immigrant Policy Center, which has been a key leader in the immigrant health movement. As an an undocumented immigrant filmmaker and community organizer, Set has been working since 2010 around migrant justice issues from education equity for undocumented students to deportation defense. Set’s short films have been televised, featured, and awarded in film festivals across the U.S. Currently, they are working on projects that explore the criminalization of immigrants as well as the connection between immigrant rights and disability rights. More recently, Set served as Assistant Editor and Impact Producer for PJ Raval’s documentary, Call Her Ganda, which premiered at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. Set is a 2018 Firelight Impact Producer Fellow, 2017 Soros Justice Fellow, 2017 IDA Emerging Filmmaker Mentorship Recipient, and 2016 at land’s edge Fellow. Above all, Set is the fruit of their parents’ sacrifices, their siblings’ resilience, and their community’s nurturing.

Working Films is committed to accountable media creation and production. We therefore gave special consideration to selecting directors whose work demonstrates this commitment to the people and communities featured in their projects. The shorts selected for Docs in Action funding will become a part of a curated set of films that will be used within community engagement efforts being developed by Working Films, in consultation with the filmmakers and partner organizations.

The Docs in Action Film Fund is made possible with support from the
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

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