Democracy on Film: The Immigrant Experience

Appropriate for a country of immigrants, Module 1 of Democracy on Film focuses on the immigrant experience. Immigrant stories are incredibly diverse, just as immigrant experiences are diverse. We also should make sure, as always, to take a close look at who is telling the immigrant’s story.

Module 1: The Immigrant Experience

Introductory Lesson: From Penny Claptrap to Movie Palaces—the First Three Decades

Chapter 1: “The Immigrant” (1917, d. Charlie Chaplin) — HU DVD 8502
Chapter 2: “The Godfather, Part II” (1974, d. Francis Ford Coppola) — HU DVD 2542
Chapter 3: “America, America” (1963, d. Elia Kazan) — HU DVD 7756
Chapter 4: “El Norte” (1983, d. Gregory Nava) — HU DVD 10144
Chapter 5: “The Namesake” (2006, d. Mira Nair) — HU DVD 3499

For additional films outside the American context, check out this list from BFI: 10 great films about immigration and migrant experience
Martin Scorsese’s own Gangs of New York (HU DVD 590) is definitely a film I’d add to this list. Dancer in the Dark (HU DVD 285) is an incredible movie that highlights the exploitation of immigrants. For an offbeat pick, I’m actually going to pick DVD 14853, The Last Command, which is the story of an exile working as a film extra. It highlights his relationship to his country using film/storytelling in a really interesting way.
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