Welcome to the Fall 2015 Semester!

Please join us in watching these excellent films centered on the experience of migration and migrants - all are free and open to the public. Professors will lead short discussions about the films, and food and refreshments will be served.

Upcoming Films

Can (2006)

November 4, 2015, 6:00pm
Discussion by Mimi Khúc
Location: Room 2102, Shoemaker Hall

Synopsis: What does it take to heal from mental illness? Can Truong, a war refugee who was among the millions of boat people who fled Vietnam in the 1970's, was a model student aspiring to become a doctor, when he was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder. After years of unsuccessfully trying conventional medical treatments for his mental illnesses, Can becomes involved in the mental health consumer movement, a social and political effort by people labeled with mental illnesses who believe in recovery through self-determination and peer support. Inspired by his peers, he embarks on a healing journey of a different kind: trying to reconcile cultural differences with his very traditional Confucian father and attempts to make sense of his childhood wounds. He serves as a volunteer on numerous mental health organizations that promote recovery and explores spiritual and holistic healing modalities. For more on the film, view the documentary's website here.

Past Films

I Learn America (2013)

October 2, 2014, 4:30pm
Location: Room 2102, Shoemaker Hall

Synopsis:At the International High School at Lafayette, a Brooklyn public high school dedicated to newly arrived immigrants from all over the world, five teenagers strive to master English, adapt to families they haven’t seen in years, and create a future of their own while coming of age in a new land.Schools – the first and ultimate hope for integration – are generally ill-equipped to serve immigrant teenagers. Efforts to educate and integrate young immigrants across the country are limited. Especially in neighborhoods and regions where demographics have changed dramatically in recent years, schools lack the resources or understanding to meet the needs of new immigrant students. The traditional paradigm relegates them to the sidelines. Yet school offers their first chance for sustained and meaningful participation in a new society. It is in school that they determine where they belong in the reality and imagination of their new culture. It is through interactions with classmates, teachers, coaches, and social workers that they shape their identities. To view the documentary's website, click here.

Fast Food Nation (2006)

April 30, 2014, 6pm
Discussion by Professor Katarina Keane (History)
Location: Room 0106, Francis Scott Key Hall

Fast Food Nation

Synopsis: Based on Eric Schlossinger's 2001 book of the same title, Fast Food Nation follows the story of Don Anderson, the Mickey's food restaurant chain's Marketing Director and the inventor of Mickey's best-selling hamburger, the "Big One." When an independent research report exposes the presence of cow's feces in the Big One, Don is sent to Cody, Colorado, to investigate. During his trip he discovers what the mass production system actually involves -- including the exploitation of Mexican undocumented immigrants, the contamination of meat, and animal cruelty. With comedy and drama, this film reveals the health risks and social and environmental consequences of America's fast food industry.

The Karate Kid (1984)

February 25, 2014, 6pm
Discussion by Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis and Mimi Khúc (Asian American Studies)
Location: Room 0106, Francis Scott Key Hall

Synposis: The film that launched a thousand karate dojos, The Karate Kid was a crucial cultural touchstone of the 1980s, transforming popular conceptions of not only martial arts but education, masculinity, and the place of Asian Americans in America. Appearing two years after the murder of Vincent Chin and right in the midst of the Redress Movement, the film offered up the Mr. Miyagi-Daniel LaRusso duo as a new model of multicultural harmony. Pat Morita’s Mr. Miyagi is a complex and enduring portrait of an Okinawan American handyman, karate sensei, classic American car aficionado, and decorated war veteran; at once he is a portrait of how ‘80s America wanted to see Asian Americans, crucial to America’s shifting vision of itself. Students in Professor Davis' and Khuc's classes will be reading the article "The Oriental Monk in American Popular Culture" by Jane Naomi Iwamura. If you'd like to read it prior to the screening, feel free!

Sleep Dealer

December 12, 2013, 7pm
Discussion by Professor Rob Chester (American Studies)
Location: Room 0106, Francis Scott Key Hall

Synposis: In a bleak future where the borders have been sealed, vast computer networks commodify memories, and corporate warriors have been militarized, a tech-savvy "campesino" from a small Santa Ana farm village discovers a mysterious transmission that seems to be a blueprint for the city of the future. Memo Cruz lives with his family in Santa Ana del Rio, a remote farming community that has recently been hijacked by a private company. Having already taken control of the entire area's water supply, the company is now seeking to sell the precious resource back to citizens at criminal prices. As a result, aqua-terrorist cells have recently formed, with the explicit goal of taking back the water supply by force if necessary. Despite the growing tension in Santa Ana, however, all Memo really cares about is technology. Memo longs to find employment as a node worker in the high-tech factories of the northern cities, and has recently constructed a transmitter that allows him to vicariously experience the lives of others. One evening, while surfing the local airwaves, the gifted eavesdropper locks onto a forbidden broadcast not intended for the general public -- a broadcast that lays out explicit plans for creating a future that Memo could have never imagined.

Bhaji on the Beach

November 13, 2013, 6pm
Discussion by Professor Marit Knollmeuller (English)
Location: Room 2102, Shoemaker Building

Synopsis: An assembly of Indian women, both immigrants and their British-born sisters, travel to the English seaside in this comic drama. The plot focuses on a trio of young women caught between tradition and independence: Ginder (Kim Vithana), who risks the uncertainties of social ostracism and single motherhood in order to escape from her abusive husband; Hashida (Sarita Khajuria), who jeopardizes her promising future in medical school when she becomes pregnant by her West Indian boyfriend (Mo Sesay); and Simi (Shaheen Khan), who integrates her feminist politics and her commitment to her culture by heading up the Saheli Asian Women's Group. To provide the women of her community with a chance to get together and enjoy themselves, Simi organizes a ladies-only trip to Blackpool, a seaside resort town that resembles Atlantic City. Along for the ride are boy-crazy teens, conservative matrons, and a garish visitor from Bombay, each of them offering a singular perspective on Asian immigrant culture. Asha (Lalita Ahmed), a middle-aged wife, mother, and newsstand proprietor, spends much of the trip experiencing picturesque visions in which an Indian goddess reprimands her for the missed opportunities in her life. Introspection gets pre-empted, however, when Ginder's husband (Jimmi Harkishin) and his brothers show up looking for a little involuntary family reunion.

Zoot Suit

October 23, 2013, 6pm
Discussion by Professor Sharada Balachandran Orihuela (English)
Location: Room 2102, Shoemaker Building

Synopsis: Part fact and part fiction, Zoot Suit is the film version of Luis Valdez's critically acclaimed play, based on the actual Sleepy Lagoon murder case and the zoot suit riots of 1940s Los Angeles. Henry Reyna is the leader of a group of Mexican-Americans being sent to San Quentin without substantial evidence for the death of a man at Sleepy Lagoon. As part of the defense committee, Alice Bloomfield and George Shearer fight the blatant miscarriage of justice for the freedom of Henry and his friends.

First Person Plural

October 3, 2013, 6pm
Discussion by Instructor Jeannette Soon-Ludes (Women's Studies and Asian American Studies)
Room 0106, Francis Scott Key Hall

Synposis: In 1966, Deann Borshay Liem was adopted by an American family and sent from Korea to her new home in California. There the memory of her birth family was nearly obliterated, until recurring dreams led her to investigate her own past, and she discovered that her Korean mother was very much alive. Bravely uniting her biological and adoptive families, Borshay Liem embarks on a heartfelt journey in this acclaimed film that first premiered on PBS in 2000. First Person Plural is a poignant essay on family, loss and the reconciling of two identities.

The Apple Pushers

November 13th, 2012, 6pm
Discussion by Professor Virginia Haufler (Government and Politics)
Location: 0102 Francis Scott Key

Synopsis: The Apple Pushers, narrated by Edward Norton, follows the inspiring stories of five immigrant pushcart vendors who are rolling fresh fruits and vegetables into New York City's food deserts - neighborhoods where finding a ripe, red apple is a serious challenge and where obesity rates are skyrocketing. These micro-entrepreneurs, who hail from Ecuador, Russia, Mexico, and Bangladesh, are at the heart of a unique urban strategy, the Green Cart Initiative, which seeks to increase the availability of fresh produce in under-served communities, in an effort to combat the obesity epidemic found in so many of America's cities.

In and Out of Africa

October 17th, 2012, 6pm
Discussion by Professor Renee Ater (Art History)
Location: 0102 Francis Scott Key

Synposis: Interweaving stories of Western collectors, Muslim traders, African artists and intellectuals, and the filmmakers themselves, the film focuses on a remarkable art dealer from Niger named Gabai Barre. It follows him all the way from the rural Ivory Coast to East Hampton, Long Island, where he bargains for a sale. The film shows how (through occasionally hilarious and frequently fantastic tales about the art objects) he adds economic value and changes the "meaning" of what he sells by interpreting and mediating between the cultural values of African producers and Western consumers.

Mississippi Masala

October 1st, 2012, 6pm
Discussion by Professor Marit Knollmueller (English)
Location: 0106 Francis Scott Key

Synopsis: "An Indian family is expelled from Uganda when Idi Amin takes power. They move to Mississippi and time passes. The Indian daughter falls in love with a black man, and the respective families have to come to terms with it."

Center for the History of the New America, Department of History, University of Maryland

2155 Taliaferro Hall, College Park, MD 20742  •  phone: (301) 405-4305  •  fax: (301) 314-9399  •

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