Director Farhad Mann takes the hot-button issue of immigration to the big screen in “Fighting for Freedom,” a film based on true events.
The film follows the story of two families, one Mexican and one American as they fight for Angelina, a 3-year-old girl who authorities are attempting to deport.
The Salazar family, who were denied work visas, crossed the border illegally in order to be reunited with their other two children who were born in the U.S., and to return to work at the Dobbe family’s farm.
While “Fighting for Freedom” highlights a relevant issue that is currently being debated, the execution of the film underscores the importance of the issue at hand.
With unrealistic dialogue and mediocre acting at best, “Fighting for Freedom” lacked the emotional depth needed to further spark the discussion of immigration.
The story of little Angelina had the potential to tug at heart strings and cause a profound emotional reaction; especially considering the film was based on true events. However, the film was unable to reach its full potential, as certain aspects of the film were too distracting.
When Oscar Salazar goes to the U.S. Consulate in Mexico to get his work papers signed, the consulate worker outrageously told him, “America doesn’t want you anymore.” The absurdity of their entire encounter undermines the bigger issue at hand.
Instead, “Fighting for Freedom” ignores the real immigration debate, and instead focuses on racist sentiments of those on the opposing side of the issue.
While the film had good intentions, the portrayal of the issue was weak. The film was used as an excuse to spew monologues about the issue, instead of offering a strong viewpoint through storytelling alone.
The actors in the film, though seemingly well-seasoned according to their IMDb resumes, were severely lacking in authenticity. For example, Ian Duncan, who plays the defense attorney’s love interest, is unable to hide his South African accent in the film, which makes for confusing dialogue as the viewer is trying to understand if his mix of accents is deliberate or accidental.
The real standout performances came from Patricia De Leon and Jose Maria Yazpik, who played Angelina’s parents. Their acting was beautifully nuanced with subtle behavior and emotional depth. If the film could have delved deeper into their story as a family and their personal and painful fight for freedom even prior to the trial, the film could have been much stronger.
I was hoping this film would be emotionally charged enough in order to facilitate a lively debate about the problems that currently exist with our immigration system, as “Fighting for Freedom” represents the real struggle that many families encounter every day.
However, the film missed a huge opportunity to tell a beautiful story, and a story that we hear all too often: the story of an innocent young girl threatened with the possibility of being taken away from her family.
“Fighting for Freedom” opens in Los Angeles on October 18.