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A Salute to Immigrants

The United States is a nation of immigrants.

The vast majority of you reading this are descended from immigrants (aside from those few who are Native American). I know I am. My paternal grandfather came over from Italy as a child. My maternal grandfather was Irish-American, a Brady whose own ancestors hailed from Oldcastle in County Meath. My paternal grandmother was half German and half Welsh. My maternal grandmother had French and English ancestry. I am a mongrel to the bone. In short, American.

Wherever they came from, and whenever they made the crossing, all of my immigrant ancestors faced hardships, poverty, and discrimination when they came here. They came looking for freedom, they came looking for a better life. And they found it, or made it... and in the process they stopped being Irish or Italian or German and became Americans.

The process is still going on today. Men and women dreaming of a better life still look to America, and cross oceans and deserts by whatever means they can to find that better life. They face hardships and discrimination as well. Not everyone welcomes them. Some talk of walls, of keeping people out, of sending them back. My ancestors faced the same sort of talk. So did yours. It's an old old story, as old as our republic. Millard Fillmore is dead and forgotten, but the Know Nothing Party is alive and well today, under other names. They still know nothing.

But some of us remember where we came from. Some of us remember that it was the immigrants, those tired poor huddled masses, who made America great to begin with.

From September 23 to September 30, the Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe will proudly be screening five great films about immigration and the immigrant experience. A mix of old films and new films, featuring a wide range of actors of all races, colors, and ethnicities, by some of cinema's finest writers and directors. Comedy, drama, terror; immigrants have known it all, and these movies will reflect that. Some are among my own favorite movies. Others I have yet to see.

Here are the trailers for the films we'll be screening:

MOSCOW ON THE HUDSON


THE LOST CITY


AVALON


DESIERTO


SIN NOMBRE


Check the Jean Cocteau website for dates and showtimes.

In addition to the films themselves, we plan to feature some appearances by the actors, directors, and some of our local political figures, talking about the movies, their own families, the issues surrounding immigration, and the like. We'll have more details on that as the dates firm up. But I know I will be kicking things off myself on Friday, September 23.

And as a way of welcoming our newest Americans, during the entire week, admission to all shows will be FREE for anyone who can show us a green card.

(And while I cannot promise a taco truck on every corner, we do hope to have a wide variety of food trucks turning up in front of the JCC at peak times, offering all sorts of tasty treats).

Comments

( 76 comments )
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Calle Johansson
Sep. 11th, 2016 12:50 pm (UTC)
The Emigrants
I'd have love to see that you showed the swedish movie The Emigrants (1971).

The Three Eyed Raven (Max Von Sydow) is Mr. Emigrant and he's amazing in it along with the rest of the cast.
Red Zen
Sep. 11th, 2016 01:18 pm (UTC)
Noticing
The commentariat on this blog, and the fandom of GRRM in general, is about as white as the GOP.

How does that make you feel, Martin?
grrm
Sep. 11th, 2016 02:19 pm (UTC)
RE: Noticing
Ah... I don't know about the racial makeup of the LiveJournal community, but my own readership as a whole is definitely NOT "as white as the GOP." The crowds that show up for my signings seem very representative of the US population -- all ages, races, religions, colors, sexes, genders, etc.
Re: Noticing - Red Zen - Sep. 12th, 2016 08:33 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Noticing - moon_flower666 - Sep. 13th, 2016 12:54 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Noticing - gman109 - Sep. 12th, 2016 05:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Noticing - renepavan - Sep. 12th, 2016 04:04 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: Noticing - Marlon Soriano - Sep. 12th, 2016 07:15 pm (UTC) - Expand
Gabriele BigCat Fontana
Sep. 11th, 2016 01:46 pm (UTC)
About your italian roots
Hi George, I'm an italian huge fan of yours. Me and other italian fans were asking if the surname of your italian grandfather was "Martin", becouse it is not common here. Was he, maybe, "Martini" or "Martino" when he moved to USA? From what region of Italy your granpa was?
Thanks for everything,
Lot of Love from Italy!

Gabriele Fontana
grrm
Sep. 11th, 2016 02:20 pm (UTC)
RE: About your italian roots
'Martin' is an Ellis island name.
Re: About your italian roots - grandma_ann - Sep. 23rd, 2016 09:53 am (UTC) - Expand
Alex McDonough
Sep. 11th, 2016 05:29 pm (UTC)
A Feel-Free-To-Skim Post
BRAVO Mr. Martin, you dealt with this sensitive subject sincerely without naming anyone in particular. Many people blame the inescapable demagogue we see on TV and the internet every day for the rise in bigotry. Yet, his supporters are the ones that truly lack clarity and blame scapegoats for unrelated problems. These are the type of people I dealt with for years. People who characterize and treat others as lazy, worthless, uneducated, etc. even though these same people are completely unwilling to accept or even learn about people from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Mr. Martin, in 2013 I moved to Washington, D.C. to work for a Republican Senator (primarily handling constituent services, nothing too important). I once gave a tour of the U.S. Capitol to a constituent who told me Rosa Parks' bust didn't deserve to be placed in the rotunda (or anywhere in the Capitol for that matter). Another time I gave a tour to a man I would describe as a religious fanatic who watched too many documentaries on the History Channel. He claimed the U.S. government has been covering up the fact that the world is just 6000 years old by editing all textbooks and magazines circulated around the country.

Anyways, I gave up working for the GOP in 2015 after spending a deal of time working at a local Republican office in Cincinnati, Ohio. I cannot tell you, as a Conservative, how disappointed I am the party I worked my tail off for. I couldn't be more supportive of low taxes, less government programs (mainly social security) government intervention in the private sector and health care, etc. But the GOP doesn't seem to care about any of those issues this year. I guess they require too much brainpower to discuss. Anyways, I moved out of the U.S. and am now becoming fluent in Chinese 你可能不相信我哈哈, 但你是我最喜欢的作者。I only hope political realignment happens soon because it's time for a new political party. Keep changing the way people think Sir ~
Jake Blackwell
Sep. 11th, 2016 06:52 pm (UTC)
Hear, Hear!
I'm part immigrant and part native and I can't thank you enough for this, George. This is one of the best things done in my lifetime to show support for a group of people usually battered without reason.

You, ser, are a class act.
srdrbr
Sep. 11th, 2016 07:26 pm (UTC)
Nice sentiment.

Myself and my family somehow managed to be war refugees twice before I turned four, and we never got warm welcome or significant help, it is nice that someone wants to help people in similar situation.

Are you going to share your opinion on US elections, as you implied for whom you wouldn't vote, but didn't say for whom you will.

Your ex-governor seems like a nice guy and I pegged Dr. Stein as you ideological match.

Those movies are great, but you should add some recent European films about the topic, there are plenty of good ones.
dropdeadpirate
Sep. 11th, 2016 07:46 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this post. I wish I could be there to watch these films.
gbtjom
Sep. 11th, 2016 07:47 pm (UTC)
Great movies!
Very good choice of movies for your theater. I would have tried to get "El Norte" though...great film.

Also, Robin Williams was great in MotH. RIP. :(

jom
OmarAdelX
Sep. 11th, 2016 11:54 pm (UTC)
salud
it just gives me more happiness and pride that i am a big fan of you.seeing my best sci-fi/fantasy writer applause the idea of welcoming migrants and refugees, i hope all people in US be the same as you though it is kind of surreal
_omega_man
Sep. 12th, 2016 01:02 am (UTC)
From one proud mutt to another, very well said!
Though I am part Cherokee too, but even they came here over the Bering land bridge.
LONG LIVE THE EMPIRE OF THE MUTTS!
DANY-TYRION 2016!
ajg2020
Sep. 12th, 2016 06:34 am (UTC)
That, to this day seems more theory than actual fact.
(no subject) - _omega_man - Sep. 13th, 2016 02:52 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ajg2020 - Sep. 13th, 2016 06:12 am (UTC) - Expand
writing_mombie
Sep. 12th, 2016 07:58 am (UTC)
Refugees welcome!
I very much agree with you. I am German, my husband is American and our 4 kids have both nationalities. My grandfather was American too. We are living in Germany.
As you know, the topic is more than vivid for the moment, especially here in Germany. Last year, I helped collecting clothes and toys for refugees, went to camps with my kids to get in touch with ref. kids etc. It is so important to be open-minded and to realize that we are ONE WORLD. Immigrant , refugee, born in the country that you live in... It all shouldn't matter.
I love the view you have on this <3
THANK YOU!
mizkit
Sep. 12th, 2016 08:28 am (UTC)
That's so awesome. Well done you.
Pierre Bouchard
Sep. 12th, 2016 02:55 pm (UTC)
Not really trying to make a point...
But using your ancestors is a very bias statistical sample. For all of the americans whose ancestors "made it" is mostly the reason they are there today.

Tho sides of the same coin. Many others didn't "make it" and this kind of natural selection is part of what made America great to begin with, too.
Shahar Abrams
Sep. 12th, 2016 05:42 pm (UTC)
Thank You, but Perhaps More can be Done?
An important perspective to remember (that too many seem to have forgotten) when it comes to the immigration debate. Thanks for posting George.

However, after reading your thoughtful post, I find myself a bit wanting...

It seems to me we are in a very pivotal moment in our politics and indeed our national identity, we have a real chance of electing someone with a desire to take our country down a very dark and different road from the history you described. You are a very well known public figure. If you hold strongly to the beliefs you mention above (and it certainly seems you do), why not speak out more publicly? You would undoubtedly be given a forum, air time, and plenty of publicity to do so if you sought it. I think you could make a real difference...

I know you aren't a pundit, and have never wanted to be embroiled in public debate, but the stakes here are high... would you ever consider it?
renepavan
Sep. 12th, 2016 07:14 pm (UTC)
A lot of the opposition to immigration (and also to lots of other economic efforts) seems to lie in some variation of the "just world fallacy".

Human beings have a tendency to consider themselves and their families (and ancestors) as hard-working, self-made, and law-abiding. The "others" are always moochers, criminals, and lazy.

They're not open to consider that their relative comfort today may also be thanks to "big government" having wider nets of security in the time of their parents and grandparents, so that their families could establish themselves. And that the hardships faced by poor people, minorities, and immigrants today may be not because they're "moochers", but because increasing deregulation since the 1970s has decreased the security blanket.

But I'm not partisan about it. This increasing destruction of government security nets and "flexibilization" of the market is not the work of Republicans and right-wingers alone. Lots of Democrat politicians also are to blame, even though they were often not as enthusiastic as the Republicans about it.


Edited at 2016-09-12 07:21 pm (UTC)
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