Soledad

Soledad tells the story of a woman from Central America who fled gang violence to seek asylum in the U.S.
by
Year Released
2020
Film Length(s)
24 mins
Closed captioning available
Remote video URL

Introduction

From the Producer and Co-Director of Missing in Brooks County, Soledad shows what life is like for those imprisoned in immigration detention centers while they await their day in court.

Featured review

I have never seen anything that depicts the stories of asylum seekers as vividly as this short film.
William Holston
Executive Director, Human Rights Initiative of North Texas Inc.

Synopsis

Soledad tells the story of a young woman from Central America who was imprisoned in the Eloy Detention Facility when she sought asylum in the United States in 2017. Soledad set out on a perilous journey from her homeland after enduring horrific persecution where she was kidnapped, sex-trafficked, tortured and nearly killed.

Attorney Shefali Milczarek-Desai, who took the case pro bono, mobilized a dream team of professional women, all of whom agreed to work for free on the case. Together, they secured Soledad's release from Eloy and ultimately prevailed on her asylum claim in a rare victory for an asylum seeker in the U.S.

For some additional contextual background on the crisis in Latin America, Professor Colin Deeds writes: "The poverty and inequality prevalent in Central America are largely due to U.S. capitalistic/imperial policy over the decades that has exploited the region's resources, while marginalizing its most vulnerable populations. Successive U.S. regimes have deposed democratically elected governments in many of these countries, further destabilizing political, economic and social conditions on the ground. The violent gangs plaguing the region today are the result of mass migration from civil wars and genocides of the 1980s . The most violent gangs (MS - 13/Mara Salvatruchas) were born and bred on U.S. streets and U.S. prisons, before members were deported back to their countries of origin. The weapons they use are produced by U.S. arms manufacturers and trafficked freely thanks to the most lax gun laws on the planet. The drug trade is fueled by the U.S. insatiable demand for mind altering substances and massive profits generated. All this not to mention climate related migration that is on the rise and expected to increase."

Through one woman's story, Soledad illustrates the plight faced by many asylum seekers and refugees arriving at the U.S. border and highlights the incredible work of lawyers and activists who donated their time to fight for another woman's future. Soledad puts a human face to our current immigration system and invites audience members to reflect on what kind of country we want to be and how our stance on immigration impacts real human lives.

*DISCLAIMER: This film contains some sensitive content. *DVD EXTRA: The Cleaners, 2018. The Cleaners is a short documentary which follows 3 immigrant workers who fight back against wage theft with the help of a law school clinic.

Reviews

Highly Recommended, The film makes the most of its 24 minutes, offering a wide variety of valuable instructional applications, providing unique insights to the injustices piled onto asylum seekers at the hands of CoreCivic. Ultimately, while Soledad prevails in her asylum case, we see how much her success is shaped not just by Soledad herself, but by each of the incredible women profiled in this wonderful heartbreaking yet hope-filled documentary. Soledad is highly recommended for a great number of social science courses (including legal ethics, medical ethics, political science/peace and conflict, social work and counseling, incarceration studies, border studies, and gender studies among others).
Educational Media Review Online
Reviewed by Gisèle Tanasse, University of California Berkeley
This short manages to elegantly offer a provocation to its audience to learn more about the real human beings that populate migrant detention centers and who, for many people in the United States, remain dispiritingly anonymous.
American Anthropologist
Reviewed by T. Parker Hatley, Harvard University
Shining a spotlight on the difficult process that those seeking asylum from perilous situations in their home country go through when they get to America, the film personalizes this issue in a simple but powerful way, and with its short running time, it could be a terrific option in a classroom setting.
Library Journal
Reviewed by Joshua Blevins Peck
By focusing on one woman's case, this inspiring program personalizes the immigration struggle that goes on every day.
Booklist
Reviewed by Candace Smith
Soledad will leave you with grief for what we have allowed to happen under the Trump Administration, but it will also leave you inspired by the power and grace of the courageous women whose commitment to justice is unshakable. This film will change you.
Roxana Bacon
Chief Counsel, American Immigration Lawyers Association; President of Arizona’s State Bar Association; Chief Counsel, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services 2009-2011
Soledad is a powerful teaching tool. It is a great springboard for both asylum and detention, as well as professionalism, secondary trauma, working with interpreters and much more. Most important, it provides a glimpse of the human sides of forced migration and advocacy.
Megan J. Ballard
Professor of Immigration Law and Policy and Director of Border Justice Initiative, Gonzaga University School of Law
Through this film, viewers can begin to understand one of the root causes of the humanitarian crisis at our border: gender-based violence. They can also see the inspiring change that a dedicated team of women can make to help one young woman find justice and hope even in today's exceedingly hostile legal system.
Nina Rabin
Director, Immigrant Family Legal Clinic, UCLA School of Law
Soledad is a beautifully rendered yet wrenching film to watch. It captures the dignity and humanity of a young woman, along with her dedicated lawyer and interpreter who stood with her in the pursuit of justice often denied. At the same time we are privy to the cruel, vicious and mostly privatized U.S. detention system, where systematic abuses are committed with impunity disguised behind a rule of law rhetoric.
Dr. Linda Green
Professor of Anthropology, University of Arizona
The film lays bare the callous and brutal nature of the U.S. immigration/asylum system, which is in stark contrast to the compassion and altruism of everyday citizens like those supporting Soledad.
Dr. Colin Deeds
Assistant Director of Latin American Studies, University of Arizona
Soledad was my motivation to pursue a career in immigration law. I hope that everyone who watches the film can feel as inspired as I am by Soledad's story, and with change, more young women like her can finally breathe again.
Luciana Dahdah
recent graduate, University of Arizona
I commend Soledad's bravery in telling her story, which sadly is not unusual. I hope that many people watch this film, as it accurately portrays the experience of many asylum seekers.
Kimi Jackson
Director, South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project
It was so gratifying to see one of the very few asylum seekers who successfully won their case. It's an excellent film for classes.
Dr. Francisca James Hernández
Head, Dept. of Ethnic, Gender & Transborder Studies / Sociology (EGTSS) Faculty, Anthropology / Mexican American Studies, Pima Community College
This film really spoke to many of the themes in our course, and Lisa Molomot's enthusiasm and willingness to answer a wide range of questions about asylum law, filmmaking, and U.S. politics-- in addition to questions about women and gender studies-- made the experience a memorable one for the professor and students alike.
Dr. Elizabeth Porter
Assistant Professor of English and Coordinator, Women's and Gender Studies, Hostos Community College, CUNY

Awards and Screenings

WINNER: Best Documentary, Global Impact Film Festival, 2020
WINNER: Best of Arizona, Arizona International Film Festival, 2021
WINNER: Best Women's Film, Society for Photographic Education, 2021
WINNER: Corazon Latino Award, Festival de Cine Latino Americano, 2020
Women's and Gender Studies Film Festival, CUNY Hostos, 2022
Orange County Jewish Coalition for Refugees, 2022
University of Illinois Chicago, Sexual Assault Awareness Month screening, 2022
Universalist Unitarian Church of Santa Paula, 2022
National Association for Multicultural Education Film Festivals, 2022
Spotlight on Academics Film Festival, Thunder Bay, Ontario, 2022
Global Conference on Women’s Studies, Rotterdam, 2022
American Public Health Association, 2021
The 7th World Conference on Women's Studies, 2021
Academia Against Corruption in the Americas Conference, 2021
American Library Association (ALA) Conference, 2021
Post Graduates in Latin American Studies (PILAS) Conference, 2021
Docscapes screening series, Tucson, AZ, 2021
University of Arizona, College of Public Health (sponsored by LUCHA), 2021
The Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges (SACC) Conference, 2021
Santa Fe Film Festival, 2021
New Haven Documentary Film Festival, 2020
Houston Latino Film Festival, 2020
Seattle Latino Film Festival, 2020
Home is Distant Shores Film Festival, 2020
International Social Change Film Festival, 2020
Central American Film Festival, 2019
Immigration Law Symposium, James E. Rogers College of Law, University of Arizona, 2019

Director Commentary

It was an honor to work with so many talented and powerful women on this film. This is a film made by and about women, many of them also immigrants or children of immigrants, including Shefali Milczarek-Desai, a producer and pro bono lawyer and Rosie Ibarra Lopez, the interpreter, who are both featured in the film. The animator, Marta Lemos, who is based in London, is the daughter of an immigrant mother from Mozambique, Africa.

Features and Languages

Film Features

  • Closed Captioning
  • DVD Extras
  • Transcript
  • Resources for Educators

Film/Audio Languages

  • English
  • Spanish

Subtitle/Caption Languages

  • English

Promotional Material

Promotional Stills

Resources for Educators

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