On September 30, 2020, the Vilcek Foundation hosted a panel discussion focusing on Isabel Sandoval’s film, Lingua Franca. The program incorporated social, cultural, and legal perspectives to develop an open discussion highlighting issues of immigration and representation in the film.
Through the experiences of the film’s protagonist, Olivia, Lingua Franca explores the interconnectedness of immigrant communities in New York, and the compounding obstacles that undocumented transgender immigrants face in pursuing legal residency, safety, and security in the United States.
Our panel comprised filmmaker Isabel Sandoval, Lingua Franca producer Jhett Tolentino, and immigration law experts Rose Cuison-Villazor and Allegra Love. The panel was moderated by Ricardo Aca, senior digital organizer of Make the Road New York.
Panelists explored the concepts of home, belonging, legitimacy, and agency, and also discussed the complexities and problems of U.S. immigration laws and policies.
“It’s important for us to do this kind of project because there’s not enough uprising we can do,” said Tolentino. “In films, we can encapsulate it into this platform and it lives on forever. We raise our voices and we amplify [them] by creating art.”
“I want to teach viewers to think more,” said Sandoval. “I wanted to make a film that was haunting and lingering and subtle because the issues at its core remain unsolved, and unresolved. I want the audience to think about Olivia and these issues so that they are compelled to take action in their own lives, and with people that they know.”
In follow-up to the program, the panel worked with the Vilcek Foundation to compile a list of resources for attendees interested in learning more about immigration law and advocacy in the United States, supporting transgender and multiply marginalized immigrant populations, and organizations that uplift and celebrate diversity and representation in filmmaking.
This program was co-supported by the Rutgers Center for Immigration Law, Policy, and Justice; the Hawai’i International Film Festival; the Santa Fe Dreamers Project; and the film’s distributor, ARRAY.
Lingua Franca is distributed in the United States by ARRAYNow. Visit the film’s webpage for detailed information about screenings and programs: http://www.arraynow.com/lingua-franca
Connect with our speakers and program partners on social media:
Center for Immigration Law, Policy, and Justice at Rutgers University
Hawai’i International Film Festival
Make the Road New York
Santa Fe Dreamers Project