Film screening highlights immigration
When Luis Argueta first arrived in Postville, Iowa in 2008, he expected to be there for only four days. He never thought that he would spend nine and a half years making a film. Dona Kercher, a Spanish and Film professor at Assumption organized an event this past Monday, November 6, 2017 to show Argueta’s film, “The U-Turn.” The film was shown to Assumption students and guests in the new Tsotsis building auditorium. In fact, “U-Turn” is the first film to be shown in the new auditorium, which was very humbling for Argueta, “I’m thrilled that it is the U-Turn that will be shown.”
Argueta’s film, “The U-Turn” tells the moving story of immigrant workers, specifically women and children, who faced deportation following the raid at the Agriprocessors meat packing plant in Postville, Iowa. This film is the third documentary to Argueta’s immigration trilogy, which educates and creates awareness about the harsh reality of migration and the abuses of rights that immigrants face.
Many of the women featured in the film were victims of verbal and physical abuse from their employers who had the courage to finally speak out and comply with authorities to get justice. The results were incredible as a total of 179 U Visas were granted to workers and their families thanks to the brave women who reported against their aggressors and the Postville community who refused to abandon them.
Following the film, the floor was open to the audience to ask questions or add comments. When asked how filming and telling the stories of these people had changed him, Argueta explains, “Like I said in the beginning before the film, I went to Iowa thinking I was going to be there for four days, do a couple interviews and go back to New York. But instead, I was so touched by the stories I was hearing, and I needed to get more information and kept going back. I went to Guatemala 17 times, and along the way not only did I learn a lot about immigration but also I say and I feel that my heart was touched by these stories and I was reformed. My life had changed.”
Michael Land, an assistant professor of English at Assumption, asked Argueta how he started filming. Argueta explained, “I had grown up in Guatemala being told to be quiet and not to question things and the result was that I never felt like I had anything to say or learn how to express myself.” Argueta’s love for filming started very early on, “I always loved film. As a kid I went to the movies more than I went to church, I have to confess that, but I never questioned how these images and these sounds happened to come, to be.”
It was not until Argueta went to Michigan to study filming where he made a silent film and self-taught himself how to edit. “It was a wonderful feeling to be able to put together these pieces together and the music and then project it. You had the magic of film happen.” Argueta had finally found the freedom to not only share his thoughts with others but the stories of others, specifically people like the victims in “The U-Turn.”
Argueta certainly succeeded in making an impact with “The U-Turn,” Jackie Hart, a junior at Assumption College was very moved by the film. “I thought the film was a really good way of showcasing what immigrants endure during deportation and how it’s occurring in the United States. I think that it’s something we don’t witness everyday, so the film really showed us what is actually happening.”
Another member of the audience, Steve Flannery, a senior, was pleased to say, “The film was great. I really enjoyed it, and I actually got a lot more out of it than I had anticipated.” Argueta admits himself, that this film affected him emotionally, more than he expected. It also reconnected him with his cultural roots. “I have always considered myself an immigrant, and it is through the stories of these families that I have been able to return and claim Guatemala as my birthplace…So it is a nice U-turn for me as well in that sense.” Argueta found a cultural connection with the families in this film and he reminds the audience, “as you watch this film, I want you to think of where your own ancestors came from.” Sometimes, especially in today’s world, everyone should look back and take a U-Turn to remember where they came from.
Emily Carito, a junior, studies English and Italian. She is a staff writer for Le Provocateur.