Long Gone By, directed by Andrew Morgan, is meant to express the current plight of undocumented Latinx immigrants in the United States by depicting a personal and eye-opening story of an undocumented Nicaraguan mother and her daughter.
The film Long Gone By portrays the reality of living in the United States as an undocumented immigrant. The story takes place in Warsaw, Indiana and features two powerful female leads, a Nicaraguan mother, Ana, portrayed by Erica Muñoz, and her daughter, Izzy, who faces the first year of college. Their lives are abruptly and forever changed when Ana is identified and given a deportation order that not only threatens her future but her daughter Izzy’s as well. Ana pleads and pleads, eventually stating “I cannot go back.”
Ana’s circumstances threaten Izzy’s future college aspirations when her financial aid and scholarships are revoked because of her mother’s status. In a matter of days, Ana must find out how to produce eighteen thousand dollars before she can no longer live in the United States. The two women are faced with an impossible circumstance; their futures are threatened by nothing more than a mother’s dream for her daughter to have a better life.
The director, Andrew Morgan, says that the highlight of the film is that “nothing in my life comes close to relating to what we witness Ana and Izzy go through . . . for me that reality, as I listened to the stories of families being torn apart, gave me the motivation to do something in my own way to shine light on these issues and ideas.” The issues surrounding immigration were problems in the United States since the beginning of its colonization. However, Morgan points out that “for millions of people this is not history it is about their story.”
With tensions on immigration being a central point of politics in the United States, bringing a film to the screen that tells a fictional story about what struggles immigrants face is a fresh perspective not many citizens have. Diversity in film is an important way to move society into an increasingly globalizing world, which is why companies like HBO invest in promoting film festivals like the Latino Film Festival.
It is a corporate payday off of an underrepresented genre, but it also gives that genre representation: essentially, a double-edged sword. While films like this are able to diversely educate, it seems like stigmas surrounding undocumented Latinx immigration and immigrants in the United States are still completely out of touch with reality.
In a statement made by Morgan, he stated that “there are roughly eleven million undocumented immigrants currently living in the US. Two-thirds have lived in this country for more than a decade and have fled countless cases of corruption and violence in search of basic opportunity for their families . . . [the movie] serves to humanize her struggle and in so doing asks larger questions about what kind of a society we are choosing to create. One in which our common values of hard work, family and increased opportunity for all give way to a more narrow American story in which far too many people are forced to make impossible choices for those they love. It gives us the opportunity to encounter things we thought we understood in a whole new way. In spending time with these characters, I have come to see their story as both foreign and familiar to us all. It is a story about struggle, sacrifice, family, and what is at stake when the laws regarding the outsider threaten to betray our truest values.”
Someone might want to question Morgan about why he thinks this film best portrays the values of the United States. After all, where is the proof to suggest that immigration is something to be encouraged and not criminalized? In this film, Morgan attempts to engage the core values of supporters and attempts to put questions in the minds of those who detest undocumented immigration and immigrants.
The hope is that this film is able to change and enlighten the hearts and minds of whoever views it; to take the viewer into the life of an undocumented Latina woman and her daughter in the current political climate of the United States. With the threats of ICE raids constantly looming over many of these immigrants, the fear and despair of Ana’s story resonate with the lives of undocumented Latinx immigrants.
In this political environment, the time is now to make the film that husband and wife Andrew Morgan and Emily Morgan and actress Erica Muñoz helped bring to the screen. In Morgan’s style, he helped to create a work that opens people’s eyes to the human levels of issues around the globe and hopefully changes some minds. While the film is fictional and dramatized, it highlights key issues that undocumented Latinx immigrants must face when coming to the United States of America.
The film’s premiere is set for the sixteenth annual HBO Latino Film Festival in New York City on August 17th at 2:00 p.m.
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