Brother Towns / Pueblos Hermanos
An uplifting story about Jupiter, Florida's humane response to an influx of day laborers from Jacaltenango, Guatemala.
Directed by Charles D. Thompson, Jr. and Michael Davey
Produced by Charles D. Thompson, Jr.
Associate Director: Margaret Morales
Editor: Michael Davey
Original Music: Santos Montejo
Narrator: Filomeno Raymundo Diaz
A project of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University
[Note: Community screenings of BROTHER TOWNS can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"This film is a wonderful pedagogical tool but also a moving document of our times." Jacqueline Bhabha, Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer, Harvard Law School
Note: Three versions are available on the DVD, a bilingual version and versions in Spanish and English. Both the English and Spanish versions have SDH captions available in their respective languages, but the bilingual version is not captioned for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
Brother Towns is a story of two towns linked by immigration, family, and work: Jacaltenango, a highland Maya town in Guatemala; and Jupiter, a coastal resort town where many Jacaltecos have settled in Florida.
Brother Towns chronicles a story of how and why people migrate across borders, how people make and remake their communities when they travel thousands of miles from home, and how people maintain families despite their travel. Because we are all immigrants, this is a universal human story, and a quintessential American one. All of us understand family.
Brother Towns is also a story of local and international controversy. News of undocumented immigrants is familiar in nearly every community across the U.S., and citizens must choose how they respond to this issue.
Our story includes voices of those opposed to undocumented immigrants as well as advocates helping migrants who seek work and hope, whether documented or not.
Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2010
Copyright Date: 2010
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-955-0
"This film is a careful, insightful and powerful portrayal of the complex web of elements surrounding international migrants. Based in the fine texture of daily life in two towns, one in rural Guatemala and the other in the southern US, it probes the dilemmas and constraints that force some to risk their lives by migrating and lead others to articulate poisonous and xenophobic abuse towards those servicing their daily lives. This film is a wonderful pedagogical tool but also a moving document of our times."
Jacqueline Bhabha, Jeremiah Smith Jr. Lecturer, Harvard Law School, Director, University Committee on Human Rights Studies
"A panorama of how two communities existing in different countries and in different social worlds become intertwined...As the film demonstrates, sometimes the biggest difference that emerges when new immigrants appear is not between the immigrants and community residents, but among the established residents themselves. The dual-country approach of the film gives it high educational value."
Nestor Rodriguez, Professor, Department of Sociology, The University of Texas at Austin, Author, When States Kill: Latin America, the U.S., and Technologies of Terror
"Brother Towns/Pueblas Hermanos tells in a sober and balanced fashion the story of Guatemalan migrants -- as well as the tale of two towns affected by the migration -- who begin their trek in Jacaltenago, Guatemala and end up working in Jupiter, Florida. We learn what pushes people to make the difficult decision of migrating away from family, friends, and community in the war-torn, impoverished countryside of Guatemala to come to the small rural town of Jupiter to do hard jobs for low wages. Importantly, we learn how a responsible city government -- even with bitter resistance -- acts in a decent, compassionate, and rational way toward immigrant workers in the community, a lesson that is all the more important with the harshness of Arizona Senate Bill 1070 fresh in the nation's collective mind. Last but not least, Brother Towns reveals the very human people involved -- migrants, workers, families, and political leaders -- in the national and international debate over immigration, all trying to
figure out how to do the right thing."
Kevin R. Johnson, Dean, University of California-Davis School of Law, Author, Opening the Floodgates? Why America Needs to Rethink Its Border and Immigration Laws
"This story of the multiple linkages between Jacaltenango, Guatemala and Jupiter, Florida shows the human faces behind the 'undocumented immigration' statistics. It introduces us to identities forged between these towns that are neither Mexican nor mestizo (the most common, and too often stereotyped cases), but indigenous Guatemalan Mayas, who have become increasingly visible as actors in the Americas. Since international migration is a central component of life throughout the United States in the 21st century (regardless of 'border security' agendas in Washington), Brother Towns is an excellent educational tool for understanding not only this particular cross-border case, but also the thousands of other cases that are similarly transforming the United States as a society."
Susanne Jonas, Latin American and Latino Studies, University of California at Santa Cruz, Author, Of Centaurs and Doves: Guatemala's Peace Process
"This video does a good job of portraying the poor in their own homes and through their own words, not as victims but agents of their own lives in difficult and complex national and global circumstances...Provides an opportunity for students of Latin America, globalization, economics, and work to explore the various and often divisive perspectives on the issues...Interesting and aesthetically pleasing."
Liliana Goldin, New York University, Anthropology of Work Review
"We are all interconnected in the global economy...Even though many may not want undocumented immigrants as part of their community they depend on the labor of the very migrants they seek to deport. The community needs labor as much as immigrants need to provide labor. [Brother Towns is] suitable for high school classes and college courses in cultural anthropology, sociology, demography, migration, and populations, as well as for general audiences."
Leslie Meyer, University of Texas at Brownsville, Anthropology Reviews Database
"Brother Towns / Pueblos Hermanos listens to all sides of the immigration issue: those who leave Guatemala, the anxious family members left behind, the Americans who welcome the strangers, and those who feel the newcomers present a risk to the United States. It's hard not to by sympathetic to Guatemalan workers who simply want to provide a better life for their children and families. Yet, at the same time, the American immigration experience has been one of assimilation and many undocumented workers hope eventually to return home...An excellent resource for understanding the legal complexities and the humanitarian aspects of the immigration issue...Highly recommended for collections and a must have for those desiring a deeper appreciation of all sides of this critical issue."
Patricia McGee, Tennessee Technology University, Educational Media Reviews Online
"A powerful, personalized look at immigration, ethnic relations, xenophobia, and day labor, among other topical issues."
DVDs include public performance rights.
Includes three versions on the DVD, a bilingual version and versions in Spanish and English. Both the English and Spanish versions have SDH captions available in their respective languages, but the bilingual version is not captioned. Also has scene selection.
The Film's Website with lots of resources for educators and citizens
Host a community screening
Awards and Festivals
Society for Visual Anthropology Film Festival, American Anthropological Association Meeting
Honorable Mention, Columbus International Film + Video Festival
Latin American Studies Association Film Festival
Cucalorus Film Festival
Kent Film Festival
Latin American Film Festival (NC)
American Public Health Association Film Festival
Cine Las Americas
Gainesville Latino Film Festival
Central America/The Caribbean
Labor and Work Issues
Latin American Studies
Latino and Chicano Studies
Migration and Refugees
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