Robert M. Young U.S., 1978
Another staple of Albert Johnson's Images of Ethnic Minorities course and film series, this film by Robert M. Young (Short Eyes, Nothing but a Man) hasn't lost its relevance in twenty years. Shot on location in Mexico and the Southwest, it offers a view of America as seen by an illegal Mexican immigrant. Robert Ramirez, played by Domingo Ambriz, leaves his farm and family in Mexico in search of a dream that is nothing but a nightmare from the word go. Surviving a nighttime border patrol raid, he enters California alone. He finds companionship with a waitress and with other farmworkers who teach him the ropes so that he won't hang himself with his own naiveté (in one hilarious scene, Trinidad Silva gives a Chaplinesque lesson in how to be gringo). But his troubles are only just beginning. J. Hoberman wrote in the Village Voice, "Without preaching, the film coolly depicts the numerous tricks by which illegals are exploited and discarded, the casual cruelty with which they're transported and housed."
• Written, Photographed by Young. With Domingo Ambriz, Trinidad Silva, Linda Gillin, Ned Beatty. (110 mins, Color, 16mm, PFA Collection, courtesy Robert M. Young)