LACEY, Wash. – The spring presentation of the Saint Martin’s University Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series is a documentary ethnographic film screening that provides a rare and touching look at the life and experiences of one U.S. citizen child of undocumented parents.
The film, “Sad Happiness: Cinthya’s Cross Border Journey,” tells the story of 11-year-old Cinthya, a child who travels for the first time to her parents’ native community in Mexico, where she visits her extended family, many of whom she has never met. Shot in Oregon and Oaxaca and narrated by 11-year old Cinthya, the film follows Cinthya’s trip to Teotitlán del Valle in Oaxaca with her godmother, anthropologist Lynn Stephen. While in Oaxaca, Cinthya participates in ritual activities in the annual fiesta for the town’s patron saint and explores Zapotec history and culture in museums and archaeological sites. Unable to accompany her because they cannot leave Oregon, her parents are omnipresent on her trip and in the film through phone calls with Cinthya to share key moments, such as an extended family party with a mariachi band led by her father’s best friend.
The film – in English, Spanish, and Zapotec with English subtitles – will be screened at 4 p.m. on Feb. 24 in Harned Hall 110 on the University campus, 5000 Abbey Way S.E. The presentation is free and the public is invited to attend. Sonia De La Cruz, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication studies at Saint Martin’s, is the film’s producer, photographer and editor. De La Cruz says the story illuminates the desires and struggles of the millions of families divided between the United States and other countries where children are mobile citizens but their parents cannot leave. Approximately 5 million U.S. citizen children live in families who have mixed status, she says.
“When parents are undocumented Mexicans and their children are U.S. citizens, there are difficult inequalities that exist within the same family,” she says. “The children have access to a wide range of benefits associated with citizenship and can come and go freely across the U.S.-Mexican border to visit family.”
De La Cruz’ documentary invites us to witness Cinthya’s life as she learns about her family’s indigenous cultural heritage and history and tries to make sense of her own rich identity. The film was debuted in fall 2015 in Eugene, Ore. Since then, it has been shown across the country and in Oaxaca, Mexico. The film also will be screened in February at Bellingham’s Human Rights Film Festival
De La Cruz earned her doctorate in media studies at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication. Her master’s and undergraduate degrees in broadcast and electronic communication arts were earned from San Francisco State University. Her scholarly interests include media, globalization and diasporas; international and development communication with an emphasis on Latin America; media and social change; and documentary film. Her research broadly examines how diasporas and other people at the margins use media as a tool to maintain connections across borders and reshape identity.
The Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series was created by Saint Martin’s faculty member Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D., professor and former chair of the Department of Society and Social Justice. Hauhart founded the series to raise awareness of social justice issues within the community. The series honors the work of Robert A. Harvie, J.D., former professor and chair of the University’s Department of Criminal Justice. For more information, contact Hauhart at 360-438-4525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washing¬ton. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,243 undergraduate students and 277 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 350 more students to its extended campus at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
For additional information:
Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D.
Professor, Department of Society and Social Justice
Interim Media Relations Manager