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CLALS | Documentary Films

Working in collaboration with partners in Washington and beyond, the Center brings to bear insights from researchers and practitioners who illuminate their research-based findings through film.

Coffee, Catholics and Climate Change

Contributing to the Center's work on Religion and Climate Change, International Reporting Fellow Camila DeChalus examines how small-scale coffee farmers in Colombia are fighting against the impact of climate change. With assistance from the Catholic Church, families in the Nariño province are now experimenting with techniques to sustain coffee cultivation and diversify agricultural production amidst severe climate change (Learn more). 

When the Forest Weeps

As part of the Center's Luce Foundation-funded initiative on Religion and Democratic Contestation in Latin America, School of Communication Journalist in Residence Bill Gentile shot and produced the documentary short "When the Forest Weeps" while on assignment in Ecuador. The piece highlights the spiritual relationship between the Kichwa indigenous people and the Ecuadoran Amazon rain forest (Learn more).

Las Mujeres, The Women

School of Communication Professor Carolyn Brown and former CLALS Fellow Lázaro Lima are currently finishing production on an hour-long television documentary that explores the struggles, successes, and changes facing both Latina immigrants in the United States and U.S.-born Latinas. Their video records the challenges of both young and older Latina women as they balance multiple identities and cultural expectations at home and at work (Learn more).

The Salinas Project: Dreams and Migration, Life and Stories From Inside an Immigrant Community

About one hour south of the wealthy Silicon Valley sits the agricultural, immigrant town of Salinas. On the east side of Salinas, in a neighborhood known as Alisal, deploring housing conditions and gang violence are a part of daily life. But there is a sense of renewal accompanying big changes taking place in the community. This documentary profiles several children of migrant farm workers living in the Salinas Valley, specifically in Alisal. Without resources, and sometimes undocumented, their future is often uncertain; but their hope and resilience are abundant. This film helps viewers understand this immigrant community that is often misrepresented in the media. Furthermore, the film brings to light the systemic causes of the problems in East Salinas and highlights the successes and hopes of this community, despite adversity. (Learn more)

God and Gangs: Criminal Violence and Religion in Guatemala

"God and Gangs: Criminal Violence and Religion in Guatemala" is a series of three short videos that sketch the context of gang violence in Guatemala and highlight the role of religion as a potential source for both individual and social transformation. The series profiles the work of sociologist Robert Brenneman as he interviews former gang members who have exited the criminal world by converting to Pentecostalism. (Learn more)

From the Fields: An American Journey

AU School of Communication Professor Carolyn Brown has produced and directed a 30-minute documentary aimed at deconstructing popular Latino stereotypes. Distributed nationwide to NBC affiliates in the fall of 2012, From the Fields: An American Journey follows the life of Damian Trujillo, from farmworker in the Salinas Valley to reporter in the NBC newsroom. The film goes beyond the often hateful rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate and into a deeper exploration of what it means to work, support a family, and contribute to American society. (Learn more)

Lost in Detention

As part of the “Lost in Detention” project coordinated by the AU Investigative Reporting Workshop and PBS Frontline, Professors Carolyn Brown and Larry Engel produced seven short videos, investigating immigrant life at the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona. In addition to the videos, Carolyn Brown authored an article, Saving Lives on the Border, exploring the role of humanitarian organizations on the border and a multimedia Reporter's Notebook on the Minutemen.

Voices from the Border

More than eleven million undocumented immigrants live in the United States, three times as many as in 1990. The stories of the 11.8 million people who live in the border region and the hundreds of thousands who pass through or come to settle there each year often go unheard. Voices From the Border is a video-based multimedia web project that profiles the Arizona border town of Naco, through video interviews and still pictures to create an archive of oral histories, giving voice to the individuals from the border region. (Learn more)

Lush forest in Ecuador

From When the Forest Weeps, courtesy of Bill Gentile

Las Mujeres, Latina Lives, American Dreams

Las Mujeres, The Women poster, courtesy of Carolyn Brown