MAUI FILM FESTIVAL 2022 REVIEW! America’s Family is a story that cuts straight to the point and does it well. For many, understanding what immigrant families face is unfamiliar and an issue that does not affect their lives. They may only know what deportation appears to be through news clips and stories here and there. However, with her feature-length debut, director-writer-actor Anike Tourse paints a detailed picture of what is really happening regarding immigrants.
The drama begins with Marisol Diaz (Tourse) and her baby, Koke, living in a poor fishing community on the Mexican Pacific coast. It is a poverty-level unknown to many in the U.S. amongst the palm trees and white sand beaches. The film’s opening song, about a mother who is trapped, is a precursor to the story proper, setting the pace and mood for what’s to come. The narrative really gets underway when Marisol and Koke (Julian Vidaurrazaga) immigrate to California, where she meets her second husband, Jorge (Mauricio Mendoza), who is from El Salvador.
“ICE is abusive in its deportation methods and sends Koke, with nothing, back to Mexico…”
Years later, Marisol and Jorge have a grown daughter, Valentina (Jailene Arias), who has epilepsy. She’s the narrator of America’s Family. Her brother, Emiliano (Emmanuel López Alonso), a lawyer’s assistant, is a man of conviction and purpose. He is working within the legal arena of deportation and the breaking up of families and their incomes. All the while, Koke (Ricardo Cisneros) and his girlfriend Angie (Angie Kim) are trying to take care of their child, Esperanza (Toni and Ryan Urquidi). Everyone is more or less living under the same roof and attempting to make it all work.
An ICE raid disrupts their version of Thanksgiving, creating an emotional calamity that knifes through a family no matter how strong. ICE is abusive in its deportation methods and sends Koke, with nothing, back to Mexico in search of his grandmother and family for a birth certificate. Marisol ends up in a detention center equivalent to a jail, where she befriends a woman from Haiti. This new friend has an even worse story to tell about migrating to the United States than Marisol. Jorge, also undocumented, ends up in a religious sanctuary at a synagogue. It is a place he delivered challah bread every Friday. ICE comes knocking, but the rabbi won’t let them in.
"…an important call for change and respect."