La Americana on Screen

23 year-old activist/filmmaker puts human face on issue of amnesty with film to be shown at LALIFF, September 14

Published on LatinoLA: September 3, 2008

La Americana on Screen

Award-winning 23 year-old filmmaker Nicholas Bruckman premieres in Los Angeles his critically acclaimed "based on a true story" film "La Americana" - an official selection of the 2008 Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF). Shot in Spanish, the film will screen at LALIFF on Sunday, September 14.

La mericana is an intimate film following real life protagonist Carmen, an undocumented immigrant who journeys from Bolivia to New York City and back, struggling to support the disabled daughter she left behind. When she begins the seemingly impossible struggle to legalize her immigration status in the US, personal and political tragedies converge.

Carmen never planned to come to the United States, but when her daughter Carla was only nine years old, tragedy struck. Carmen left Carla behind in Bolivia and made the dangerous and illegal journey to New York City where she could earn enough to support her ailing daughter, knowing she may never return home. But after six years of separation, congress proposes 'amnesty' legislation that could allow Carmen and Carla to be reunited again. Will Carmen stay and fight for the American dream, or be home as promised for Carla's quincea??era?

Filmed in three countries and told in a compelling cinema v?®rit?® style, Carmen's unforgettable and all too familiar story is woven into the current immigration reform debate in the United States, putting a human face on the divisive issue of "amnesty."

Yet as compelling as the story told on the screen is, as powerfully spellbinding is the one remaining untold behind the scene - that is the passion and humanitarian endeavor of a 23 year old activist filmmaker, Nicholas Bruckman.

As he started to film, La Americana was to be about Carmen's plight and the fight for immigration reform. But as he became closer to her and followed her dramatic journey, what began as a political documentary gradually evolved into a universal human drama about family, transnational life, and a question more fundamental than immigration policy: Who is an American?

Because his blind grandfather came to the United States to escape poverty in India, and his Jewish grandmother fled the Holocaust by coming to the U.S., he believes in America as a promised land for immigrants. Yet he hopes Carmen's story challenges us not only to rethink U.S. immigration policy, but to rethink all of the borders, physical, political, or ideological, that put race, religion, or nationality before our common humanity.

Bruckman has no Latin heritage per say but feels a close connection to the culture and relates to the issue of minorities - he speaks flawless fluent Spanish.

La Americana has screened at over a dozen international film festivals and recently won the Best Documentary award at the New York Latino Film Festival.
The film already garnered impressive media attention:

"Devastating - shows first hand how the political effects the personal."
- John Thomason, Sun Sentinel

"Surprisingly poignant and effecting."
- G. Brian Davis, Baltimore City Paper

"Heart-breaking?a worthy advocacy doc."
- Hap Erstein, Palm Beach Post

"Smart - [has] a sense of weight and historical importance"
- Josh Rosenblatt, Austin Chronicle

Bruckman recently graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York at Purchase College, where he also managed the college cable TV station, Purchase TV. His thesis film, Kashmir: Voices of Occupation, earned him the statewide SUNY chancellor's award. He recently received a Reach Film Fellowship grant to direct and produce his next documentary, The Grey Movie, an examination of several modern-day revolutionaries in New York City. Nicholas has worked on independent, corporate, and nonprofit documentary projects in South America, Asia, and the Middle East. His work has been supported by grants from the New York State Council of the Arts and the Cinereach Foundation.

La Americana is his first feature film made with support from the IFP Market, IFP Documentary Rough Cut Lab, and a distribution grant from the New York State Council of the Arts.

La Americana is Carmen's story, and the story of millions of illegal immigrants forced to leave their families behind in order to provide them a better life. It is the story of a continent divided not by values, but by a physical and political barrier that separates families indefinitely, sometimes forever.

One Continent. Two Countries. A World Apart.

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