New film series offers students a chance to educate themselves about immigration

Chad Lyle

When it comes to migration, UT history professor Joan Neuberger wants people to know there’s more to the subject than the heated rhetoric coming out of Washington, D.C.

Neuberger launched a series of screenings in response to the increased public interest concerning migration. The project ­­— titled Faces of Migration: Classic and Contemporary Feature Film Series — started last September to inform students about the migration experiences of different cultures. On average, Neuberger said the bimonthly screenings attracted 40-50 students per film.

“People often make political decisions based on stereotypes about things that they don’t really know that much about,” Neuberger said. “I just wanted people to start talking about (migration).”

The series returned Tuesday with the picture “A Better Life,” which follows an undocumented immigrant fighting to build a future for himself and his natural-born American son in Los Angeles. Alberto Garcia Maldonado, a visiting research fellow from the University of California, Berkeley, was asked by Neuberger to introduce the film. Maldonado — a son of Mexican immigrants himself — studies immigration between the United States and Mexico.

“(‘A Better Life’) is a very good view of mixed-status immigrant families,” Maldonado said. “It highlights a very particular moment during president Barack Obama’s first term — deportations actually did reach a record high during his first term. It’s during the second term that you have DACA and DAPA — these programs that are being debated once again today.”

Neuberger points out that migration isn’t just limited to U.S.–Mexico relations and is in fact a universal human behavior that manifests itself in various ways across cultural lines.

“One of the things we wanted to do was make sure we included films from all over the world,” Neuberger said. “(The films) are about all different immigration possibilities.”

Courtney Meador, program coordinator for the Institute for Historical Studies, said students should get involved in the program because it gives them an opportunity to bond with other students who share similar interests.

“A community has grown up around this series, as a student, that sort of relationship building around areas of common concern would really draw me in,” Meador said. “It’s a good cross section of people interested in film, migration and the humanities.”

The series showcases a film every other Tuesday at the Glickman Conference Center in the Liberal Arts Building and features a special guest and follow-up discussion.