By Andrea Plaid
Second week of Pride Month, and I have some great documentary news!
Journalist/activist/filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas casually mentioned his newest documentary, Documented, to me when we gathered to petition the New York Times to completely stop using the terms “illegal” and “illegal immigrants.” But I thought he was in the throes of shooting or at the beginning of post-production. In other words, the movie was a long way off from being in the theater.
Well, documentary-fan me is so happy to announce that the movie will make its world premiere next Friday, June 21, at Washington, DC’s American Film Institute’s documentary festival!
His own story illustrates the struggle that many families who have been split up by immigration laws are undergoing in America, he says. Every month, Vargas sends remittances back to his family in the Philippines to help his mother and half-sister, as well as his half-brother, who he has never met.
“They know me only through YouTube videos and Facebook,” said Vargas.
“Publicly, I try to be put together, I want to come across as strong, and as if I can talk to anybody,” Vargas said. “There isn’t anybody in this country that I would not talk to about immigration…. but me talking about my mom is the hard stuff and dealing with how I have to have a life without her, it isn’t easy.”
“I have seen my mother more on screen in the editing process than I have in the last 20 years,” Vargas said. “It’s been very intense and the hardest story we tell is the story about ourselves.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, who self-identifies as gay, ties together how current immigration policies meld with the fight for same-gender marriage.
Vargas told HuffPost Live’s Jacob Soboroff that one reason immigration laws are broken today is because they threaten to separate same-sex binational couples, even those who have married legally under state law.
“I can’t marry my way into citizenship like straight people can,” Vargas said. “I can get married in the state of New York where I live, but because of the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government, which hands out visas, won’t recognize my marriage.”
If you have a chance, please go see this film about a great journalist fighting to define what home means–and to have those whom he loves to be there with him.