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Arts | Coolture

Film screening to highlight San Diego immigrant stories

Osmar Abad Cruz one of the many beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in Sa
Osmar Abad Cruz is one of the DACA recipients featured in the documentary “Letters from Our Elders.”
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / San Diego Union-Tribune)

A documentary featuring immigrant stories from the Haitian community in Tijuana as well as San Diego Border Dreamers is coming next week to the Central Library.

The independent film, “Letters from Our Elders,” by the Buenpaso Collective, seeks to connect the story of the director’s grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, with stories of today’s immigrants.

The documentary follows two Haitians who came to Tijuana and eventually into the U.S. and three members of San Diego Border Dreamers, a group of young unauthorized immigrants affected by the Trump administration’s changes to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

“These are their letters to other [future] generations,” said Edwin Cruz, one of the executive producers for the project. “That’s brought the whole film into perspective. What we’re doing here is documenting these stories and documenting these lessons that people, particularly people from immigrant backgrounds, are leaving for us.”

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The connecting message among the stories, Cruz said, is resilience.

Inspiration for the documentary came from the film’s director Aaron Freeder’s experiences filming protests in Los Angeles following the election of President Donald Trump.

At an airport demonstration against the travel ban, a woman from Syria told him about how personal the protest was for her. That prompted him to look at his own personal connection to immigration. He ended up at a Shoah Foundation archive at the University of Southern California for footage of an interview with his grandfather that he had known about for years but never sought out.

“It’s important to contextualize each of our own stories, whether it be our families or those of our friends,” Freeder said.

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The film tells individuals’ stories in an authentic way, he said, which is something he believes is missing from public discourse.

“We need to try our best to understand the reality of situations and not compress them into how they fit into a brief in the 24-hour news cycle,” Freeder said. “People should come in expecting an element of truthfulness and authenticity and reality in our project.”

This will be the first public showing of the film, which is still a work in progress, Freeder said.

The screening begins with a reception at 6 p.m. on Monday in the Neil Morgan Auditorium and is free and open to the public. There will be a question-and-answer session after the showing.

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kate.morrissey@sduniontribune.com, @bgirledukate on Twitter


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