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Documentary of Mercer Film Student is Featured in Film Festival
at Yale University


A documentary by Mercer County Community College (MCCC) Digital Film student Jorge Torres was featured in the New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema (NEFIAC) at Yale University in October.

In his 20-minute film, “Undocumented,” Torres, a Lawrenceville resident originally from Ecuador, promotes human rights by showing the plight of immigrants who live and work in the U.S. His film received an “Honorable Mention” award in the category of Documentary. 

Torres’ documentary began as a class project that was selected to be shown at MCCC’s “Bernie Awards,” an annual event where four student films are chosen to be showcased. 

With encouragement from Assistant Professor Barry Levy, Torres submitted his documentary to NEFIAC, and was the only student chosen to screen his film alongside professional film directors from countries including such as Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba and Peru.

Torres first came up with the idea for his documentary after filming various segments related to immigration issues for an organization he founded, “Unidad Latina en Accion NJ.”  This nonprofit community organization in Hightstown aids the immigrant community on issues such as immigrant rights, wage theft, and racial issues.

“I had all this great film footage, and I thought to myself, ‘How can I use this as a social tool to educate people about immigration issues?’” said Torres.
Pictured from left are Luis Zavala, Yale University professor, Mercer Digital Film student Jorge Torres, Margherita Tortora, Yale University professor, and Luis Argueta, a documentarian at the New England Festival of Ibero American Cinema at Yale University.
Mercer Digital Film student Jorge Torres sat on the panel of judges for the film festival. Pictured to his right is Luis Zavala, Yale University professor.

He added that the biggest struggle he faces in his organization is educating society about the issues of undocumented immigrants.

He defined illegal as someone who crosses the border into the U.S. without permission, while undocumented refers to someone who arrived in this country legally but has been unable to obtain the proper documentation to work legally.
“No human being is illegal,” said Torres, noting that undocumented workers pay taxes on gas, clothes, home appliances and housing, but they do not receive the benefits that other taxpayers receive.

Part of the inspiration for Torres’ documentary came from a freelance job he had documenting the National Day Labor Organizing Network National Assembly in Los Angeles, CA.  On the final day of the convention, which drew upwards of 300 people, the group paraded outside the L.A. County Hall of Administration to protest local agencies’ enforcement of federal immigration laws.

The film also tells the story of an immigrant named Lucia, who was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. with her parents when she was very young.  Lucia lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Mercer County with her three daughters, and works 16 hour days at a local restaurant.

“I consider myself American.  I grew up here, I went to school here, I had my own family here,” she says in the film.  She becomes more emotional as she talks about the hardships she faces as a single mother working full time and caring for her three children without the benefits of being a documented citizen.

The film also highlights a female day laborer site in New York, where undocumented women gather daily in hopes of getting hired as house cleaners.  The film shows a day when the women come out to clean up the playground in the neighborhood where they gather, emphasizing how they give back to society.

In addition to his film being shown at NEFIAC, Torres also participated on the panel of judges for the festival, which included a question-and-answer session following the screening with Yale students and residents of New Haven, CT.
While Torres was already working as a freelance documentarian before enrolling at Mercer three years ago, he noted how valuable his education has been for his career.  “Mercer has one of the best schools in film.  I have some really great teachers.”

After returning from the festival, Torres admitted his feeling of pride for his work when it was shown alongside professional documentarians.  “I did this without any expectations other than making this for a school project,” he said. He adds that this experience has encouraged him to continue pursuing a career as a documentarian after he graduates from Mercer.

To see a recent video that Torres created on Hurricane Sandy Relief Day Labororer Brigades in Staten Island, click here.

Mercer's Digital Film Program

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