Carracedo screenings enhance immigration focus

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Katie Fata

Award-winning director Almudena Carracedo visited campus for screenings of her films, Made in LA and The Silence of Others, to add to Wesleyan’s seemingly growing focus on immigration. 

The screenings were sponsored by Ben and Susan Rhodes Endowed Professorship of Peace and Social Justice, Betty Ritchie-Birrer and Ivan Birrer, The Ames Library and the Department of English. 

The Department of World Languages, Literatures and Cultures, International Film Series, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Office of Multifaith Engagement and the Women and Gender Studies Program were also involved. 

Carracedo visited the campus ten years earlier during Made in L.A.’s original tour for the film’s showing in Hansen. Carracedo was also awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters degree in 2011. 

Made in L.A., which showed on Tuesday night, was released in 2007 and documents the lives of three immigrant women working in the garment industry in Los Angeles. 

The film follows the women as they find and amplify their voices in a fight against Forever 21 and the inhumane conditions garment workers for the company were working in. 

The film won the News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story in 2008. 

Carracedo said that while she doesn’t usually celebrate the demise of others, she was happy about the company’s recent announcement of bankruptcy. 

After Made in L.A. concluded Tuesday night, Carracedo told the audience she hadn’t seen the film in years and cried through the whole thing 

She said it was especially rough because she hadn’t viewed the film since she became a mother. 

After giving a short summary of the history of the film, Carracedo opened the floor to audience members for questions. 

Sophomore Jason Wilkening asked how companies treating their workers unethically were allowed to operate. 

Carracedo explained that subcontracting is legal whether it’s considered moral or not, which is what the companies used to hire immigrant workers. 

Junior Megan Baker asked about the relevancy of the film today, as it’s original release was over ten years ago. 

“After the film ends, the story continues. It’s sad that the film is evergreen,” Carracedo said. 

The Silence of Others, which was released in May 2019, was shown Wednesday night in Beckman Auditorium. 

The Silence of Others documents the struggle of victims of Spain’s General Franco who ruled as a dictator for forty years. 

The film shows survivors as they organize the “Argentine Lawsuit” and describes the phenomenon of tens of thousands of babies that were allegedly stolen and illegally adopted.

“Very often the first film is something you go about slowly, and take your next film much faster,” Carracedo said on working on her sophomore film. 

“We took even longer the second time. This film took us seven years to complete,’ she said. 

A student then asked Carracedo about developments in the case as well as the involvement of the Catholic Church in the disappearances of children. 

“More plaintiffs have joined and I am optimistic about the new government,” Carracedo said. 

She told Wednesday night’s audience she would get back to them with more updates in six months and describe the Church’s involvement. 

“The church in Spain was involved. 

They would take the children of people they deemed ‘unfit’ to raise children and give them to families ‘more suited’ to raise children,” Carracedo said. 

After both films, students asked Carracedo about the relevancy of her film to immigration rights in the U.S.’s current political climate. 

“There’s no better way to learn about something than to be shown exactly what happened,” senior Maddie Guiard said. 

Dr. Kathleen O’Gorman jumped in on Tuesday night to explain how close to home these stories are, describing the raids of factories during the recent ICE raids in Missouri. 

O’Gorman, who was imperative to bringing Carracedo’s films back to campus, spent time this summer translating on the border for lawyers at detention centers. 

She shared her experiences in a number of talks locally but has not yet been asked to speak at IWU on the topic. 

O’Gorman is dedicated to bringing more awareness of immigration and Latinx issues to campus. 

For the first time, O’Gorman is offering Latinx Fiction and Latinx Drama classes. 

This past fall, she taught Latinx Fiction from 1980-Present and will be offering Latinx Drama 1965-Present in the spring though she has worked to include Latinx texts in other classes over the years.

“In at least one class I’ll be incorporating an assignment explicitly grounded in my experienceat the border,” O’Gorman said. 

After a student asked about the conditions of factories still in the United States, O’Gorman told the audience that fear plays very largely in the dynamics of existing factories and the overall treatment of immigrants in the U.S.

“The abuses are widespread and deep,” O’Gorman said. 

The screenings in combination with the inclusion of Latinx-focused classes show the IWU community’s growing dedication to educating students about immigrant rights and experiences. 

Made in L.A. was originally shown at Illinois Wesleyan over ten years ago and has since won numerous awards, including an Emmy for Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story in 2008. PHOTO COURTESY OF MADE IN LA