Bienvenidos a Los Angeles is a short film from director-writer Lisa Cole that tells the story of one night in the life of Imani (Destiny Faith Nelson), a Nigerian single mother living in Los Angeles. She makes a fateful decision to help a stranger named Elizabeth (Stacey Patino) reunite with her son, Chris (Ethan Mendez), who has been detained at the airport. Imani’s simple act of kindness draws the attention of ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and thus threatens to jeopardize her own path to citizenship.
“…makes a fateful decision to help a stranger…reunite with her son…”
The story is based on actual events. Cole describes her inspiration for the film: “Some years ago, my close family friend, Elizabeth, planned to reunite with her 5-year-old son Chris, who’d been living apart from her in Mexico for more than four years. When Chris arrived at Los Angeles International Airport, he was detained by immigration. It was a harrowing and emotional night that inspired this short film. My small role in the ordeal, as the person who went into LAX to pick up Chris, became an educator. As a white American, my understanding of the profound fear and uncertainty faced by many immigrants had been obscured by privilege. The truth had a lasting impact and became this film. I’m honored that Elizabeth trusts me to share her story.” The performances in the film are realistic and wrenching.
The U.S. has a long history of difficulty coming to a conclusion about immigration. Though it was founded by immigrants, the country’s citizens struggle with that relationship, and the prevailing sentiment is to try to limit the number of people coming in. The increasingly draconian rules and brutal enforcement have a real impact on families. Cole’s short film drives this home through the terror on the faces of the immigrants.
For screening information, visit the Bienvenidos a Los Angeles official website.
"…She makes a fateful decision to help a stranger"