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Mi Raza: Portrait of a Family

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Film Identifier: F.2006-03-0016
Date Produced
An ethnographic documentary on the immigrant experience made by anthropologists/filmmakers at the University of Illinois Chicago, Paul Hockings and Susan Stechnij, this film was part of a series that examined the wide range of cultural diversity in Chicago. The film follows the daily activities of 3 generations of an unnamed extended family of Mexican immigrants in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago as they negotiate the difficulties of maintaining their traditions and heritage in the realm of work, school, and religion. Additionally, strong emphasis is placed on the family’s political activism in the workplace and school as a useful tool to assert their cultural identity against the white establishment of Chicago. Other scenes document the handing down of family histories and culinary traditions from generation to generation. Told by voiceover of the family members involved, the film occludes the role and influence of the the filmmakers and anthropologists. Oddly though, while the film is told from the family members viewpoint, they remain unnamed through out, which both obscures the relationship between family members - certainly odd for an ethnographic film - and somewhat de-personalizes their stories. Still, an intriguing portrait of immigrant life and an important look at a visually under represented community of Chicago. Preserved by Chicago Film Archives with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation.
MS Protest march / MS Family gathering / MS Grandmother cooking in kitchen / MS Living room with religious icons / CU Grandmother talking about 18th St. in Chicago / MS Grandmother telling folktales to grandchildren / CU Grandmother singing and cleaning religious icons / MS Male cousin talking about using folk remedies / MS Family discussing the eating of hot peppers / MS Mother choosing meat at the butchers / MS Father and son cooking tripe / CU Father explains how he makes tripe / MS Family eating dinner / MS Teenage daughter celebrating birthday, opening presents / MS Family members taking photos of birthday party / CU Daughter blowing out candles on 15th birthday cake / MS Daughter dancing with Father at birthday party / MS Young children at school writing on blackboard / MS High school students washing cars at benefit / CU Sign being held up by high school boy that reads “Froebel West Parking Lot” / MS Children in art class making replicas of Aztec architecture / MS Family at mass / MS Son’s first communion / MS Men working at Mad Dog 20 20 factory / Voiceover of Grandmother talking about how the center of life in Mexico is the church but in America it is the workplace / CU Father working on assembly line - his voiceover on coming to work in America in guest worker bracero program and as an undocumented immigrant / MS Protest march and union drive against A&P grocery store / LS City of Chicago Board of Education meeting with Latino community activists arguing with board members / MS Community activist leaving meeting / MS Mother talking with daughter about why she fights for educational and social equality.
Preservation Sponsor
National Film Preservation Foundation
Main Credit
University of Illinois Chicago (is producer)
Stechnij, Susan (is director)
Additional Credit
Stechnij, Susan (is contributor)
University of Illinois Chicago (is contributor)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Navarro and Gonzalez Families (is actor)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)