Perhaps because it is a universal issue, migration and immigration have interested filmmakers from all over the world throughout film history. Here in Spain, affected by migrations in various directions, our filmography on the subject is particularly rich and abundant. Actor / director Carlos Iglesias, who first explored the subject in his magnificent work Un Franco, Catorce Pesetas (Crossing Borders), takes up the idea again in Ispansi, a film about war children now being released in cinemas. Here, filmotech.com reviews some of the best movies devoted to immigration.The Immigrant: In 1917 Charles Chaplin directed this twenty-minute film in which he plays a man who has just arrived in New York, accompanied by his wife, and who gets into various scrapes as usual. With his distinctive sentimental, comic style, Chaplin portrays the problem of uprooted people with biting humour.
The Grapes of Wrath
In America, America (1963), Greek-born filmmaker Elia Kazan drew upon his own uncle's experiences to tell the story of the adventures of a young man from Anatolia who wants to go to New York, his particular promised land, and who is deeply affected by the long, arduous journey. Considered a masterpiece in film history, this is one of the most personal - and favourite - films from this brilliant director.
Pelle, the Conqueror
In My Beautiful Laundrette (1985), Stephen Frears, a specialist in English society under Margaret Thatcher, paints a merciless - though not devoid of humour - portrait of multicultural Britain in the eighties, including, among other things, the tense relations between the locals and immigrants from Pakistan.
La Aldea Maldita
In 1930, Florián Rey wrote and directed La Aldea Maldita (The Cursed Village), one of the most outstanding examples of Spanish silent film, in which a group of people are forced to leave their home town to seek new horizons. This exodus has a profound influence on each migrant. Rey has created a cinematographic gem here, narrated in an extremely elliptical, effective way, with surprising photography and editing. Sound was added later and the film achieved some international renown.
Un Franco, 14 Pesetas
Years later, films like Españolas en París (Spaniards in Paris) (1970) appeared, in which Roberto Bodegas explores a phenomenon peculiar to that time: the Spanish girls who went to live in France, in particular Paris, to work as maids and help their families in Spain by sending money. Ana Belén, young and lively, was one of these girls given a cool welcome by her haughty and arrogant French employers.
Llorenç Soler also examines racist prejudices, together with legal impediments, in Saïd (1999), a film about a young Moroccan who crosses the Straits of Gibraltar on a raft in order to reach Barcelona.
Three sisters from Cuba arrive in Madrid with the intention of making new lives there in Cosas que Dejé en La Habana (Things I Left in Havana) (1997), by Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón. The film represents the director's heartfelt tribute to friends and relatives.
In 2006, actor Carlos Iglesias ventured into directing for the first time with Un Franco, 14 Pesetas (Crossing Borders), a warm film which, using his personal memories, links the vicissitudes of two families who emigrate to Switzerland where, in spite of their initial difficulties, they end up getting used to their new lifestyles.
Based on dramatic accounts of the deaths of numerous immigrants who attempt to reach the southern coast of Spain from Morocco, Madrid filmmaker Chus Gutiérrez shows us another side of immigration in Retorno a Hansala (2008). She takes her leading characters to the North African village from which many of the deceased immigrants depart, presenting us a drama of the shattered families left behind and the friends and young people, who despite the high risks involved, desperately try to get to the Spanish coast.