120 days the movie

Family separation, the dramatic decision of undocumented immigrants in film (video)

Undocumented immigratns and President Obama

Thousands of undocumented immigrants are waiting for their time to become Americans.

Every day, thousands of undocumented immigrants live with the fear of deportation, not knowing what could happen to them, their families,  their jobs  and their future at the end of that day. In an hostile immigrant environment fired up by the 2016 presidential campaign, immigrant hard-working families face the dramatic decision of family separation with “voluntary deportation.”

Gravitas Ventures has picked up worldwide VOD & broadcast rights to Ted Roach’s 120 Days: Undocumented in America, the award-winning documentary that chronicles one immigrant’s struggle to keep his family together after an immigration judge orders him to leave the U.S. “voluntarily” within 120 days to avoid an official deportation.

The politically-timely documentary is slated for a VOD release on October 2nd on many platforms, including iTunes (available for pre-orders now), AT&T, Amazon, Cablevision, Comcast, Google Play, In-Demand, DirecTV, DISH Network, PlayStation®, Rogers (Canada), TWC, VUDU, U-verse, and Xbox.

Voluntary deportation

Voluntary deportation is a hard decision for families of undocumented immigrants

The Immigration debate gets personal in this documentary from filmmaker, Ted Roach. Family man Miguel Cortes was detected as an undocumented immigrant at a traffic stop after living in the U.S. under the radar for over a decade. After receiving the judge’s “voluntary departure” order, Miguel, his wife and two daughters have four months to decide if they will send Miguel back alone, or change their names and disappear back into another American city to keep their family together. The film crew joined the Cortes family from the first day in court through Miguel’s last official day in the United States, revealing a hidden side of an undocumented society that few Americans ever get to see.

The documentary had its North American premiere at the Austin Film Festival and was selected for over 20 other festivals, winning 10 awards and four nominations along the way. The upcoming D.C. premiere will take place the weekend of October 22-25, with featured screenings in the Greater Washington Immigration Film Festival and American University’s Human Rights Film Series. The film will also screen at the 2015 Napa Valley Film Festival.


Twitter: @120DaysMovie
Manuel vs Statue of Liberty poster

Noemi de la Puente the American Dream ugly truth goes off-Broadway

Noemi de la Puente, play writer/producer of Manuel versus The Statue of Liberty.

Noemi de la Puente, play writer/producer of Manuel versus The Statue of Liberty.

Millions of immigrants every year take a leap of faith, leaving their countries of origin spell-bound by the idea of the American Dream.  Shortly after arriving though, they find out that the promised opportunity for freedom, prosperity and success through hard-work turns to be just that, hard work.

Noemi de la Puente, a play writer and daughter of immigrants, knows this ugly truth by experience. While a student at Princeton University, she was outraged by the true story of a Princeton undergraduate, Manuel, who was an undocumented immigrant child from the Dominican Republic.

He had overcome extreme poverty but due to his hard work and brilliant achievements, he had received a full scholarship to study at one of the prime universities in the country. Manuel continued to excel while in Princeton, winning in his senior year a scholarship to study classical Greek and Latin literature at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.

However, he could not leave the country because of his undocumented immigration status; so he turned himself into Homeland Security. The agency decided to deport him immediately.

Noemi de la Puente receiving her NYFM award

Noemi de la Puente receiving her NYFM award

“My disbelief and outrage at the preposterous and tragic situation of this student inspired me to write a musical comedy about illegal immigration called ‘Manuel versus The Statue of Liberty.’ This young man, who had received a scholarship given to the top senior in every graduating class, was not allowed a path to citizenship,” de la Puente told LIBizus.

The play writer debates with skepticism the US national ethos, the American Dream. “I thought the whole situation was ridiculous because this is the very type of person we want in our country – hard-working, smart, generous people,” she affirmed.

Manuel’s battle with the immigration system reminded her of her parents’ difficulties when immigrating from Spain and Argentina. They worked hard for their citizenship, and eventually achieved their legal status, even though it did very little to affect the biases they experienced as native Spanish speakers.

“It was difficult for me growing up in Los Angeles to see my parents poorly treated because of their immigrant status. Both of my parents were academically gifted as is the protagonist in our musical. The only container large enough for this epic struggle of boy versus country was a musical, and the only way I could stomach the tragedy and complexity of the immigration system was if it were a comedy, therefore I wrote it as a musical comedy,” de la Puente explained.

Manuel vs Statue of Liberty 2014 cast with Carlo Albán, Diana Carolina Pou Ortíz, Jessica Crilley, Lisa Franklin, Byron Eugene Meyer and Gabriel Sloyer.

Manuel vs Statue of Liberty 2014 cast with Carlo Albán, Diana Carolina Pou Ortíz, Jessica Crilley, Lisa Franklin, Byron Eugene Meyer and Gabriel Sloyer.

Manuel’s struggle is presented as a high-stakes boxing-match between the gifted student and The Statue of Liberty, the Diva of Democracy, a clear metaphor of the farce the American immigration system is today. A mix of Latin influences and other contemporary American pop music depict Manuel’s journey from poverty in New York City to the Ivy League higher education institution in the musical, which enthusiastically endorses the DREAM Act.

In 2014, the show won the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) Developmental Reading Series Award. “NYMF is one of the premier musical theatre festivals in the country so it was a great honor for me,” de la Puente said.

The award comes with a Next Link Production, in which NYMF offers artistic and logistical support to writer/producers. “As the producer, I am responsible for the entire production: the creative team, the cast, the designers, the backstage crew, the musicians, etc. As the writer, I am very pleased that the show has been embraced so heartily by this mainstream festival,” de la Puente explained.

With crew Howard Post, Jose Zayas, Mary McGinley and Noemi de la Puente.

With crew Howard Post, Jose Zayas, Mary McGinley and Noemi de la Puente.

The show will be presented in New York City at the Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre –part of the Signature Theatre Center– from July 21 to 27 of this year.

“In order to produce this show to the off-Broadway standards of NYMF, I need to raise approximately $66,000. Most of the funds will go to pay the top-level artists I am engaging in this project,” de la Puente shared. “I am working hard at fundraising, rewriting, and assembling the creative team.”

De la Puente believes this is a huge opportunity for her as a Latina writer in the musical theatre world. “We are underrepresented in musical theatre, and NYMF has given my work a significant endorsement. I am extremely happy to work with director Jose Sayas, and collaborating with composer David Davila on this project. David not only brings extensive experience and love of musical theatre to the process but in addition, he has a visceral understanding of the DREAM Act, having lived most of his live on the Texas-Mexico border near McAllen,” she explained.

David Davila, composer and entertainer

David Davila, composer and entertainer

Her awarded work includes “Generic Hispanic,” which became finalist at MultiStages New Works contest 2012, and was produced at the Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre (PRTT) as part of the InSight Series 2008); “Manuel vs. the Statue of Liberty,” the winner of the 2014 NYMF Developmental Reading Series Award, Official 2015 NYMF Next Link Project; “The Revenge of Suicide Jack” in development at the Dramatic Question Theatre; “Lightning Strikes Twice,” a 10-minute musical produced in English at the Huron Club, Soho Playhouse, and in Spanish at the Microteatro in Caracas, Venezuela.

A member of the Professional Playwrights Unit at PRTT between 2004 and 2012, her Solo show “Fountain of Youth” was developed and produced through the Carolinian Shakespeare Festival, the PRTT, and was a Dramatic Question Theatre (DQT) production at Theatre 3 in 2013. She is a founding member of DQT, a collective of playwrights that develop multicultural works, and challenge the traditional race/gender barrier of professional playwriting as practiced in America today.

De la Puente received her MFA in Theatre Arts from the University of Iowa (Patricia Roberts Harris Scholarship), MSE Princeton University, and BSE Caltech.

Click below on the poster to check out their website ; follow them on Facebook (manuelvsstatue) and Twitter (@manuelvsstatue). All donations are greatly appreciated!

Manuel and The Statue of Liberty play announcement poster july 2015