Carlos Aguilar has given him a voice on how to call – variety4 min read
As a freelance film critic who has been working in Los Angeles for the past seven years and a resident of this city since I came from Mexico as a teenager, I have found that I am lucky to find supporters in publishing and film-related companies. The value of my work and insight.
That’s why three years ago when the Trump administration withdrew Decker (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) – the Obama-era program that offered temporary protection to nearly ten million unregistered young people – I publicly stated that I was one of the direct recipients. Affected.
Faced with the horrible possibility of losing everything I had built up so far, it seemed urgent to share my story with colleagues in the entertainment industry who were not aware of my condition. After doing this, the hope was no longer in the hopes of being hypothetical for the people around me. Now they consciously knew at least one person whose livelihood was at stake. I was hesitant to be open about the painful part of reality, but such visibility is relevant because it addresses an issue that is often discussed in abstract data and platitude.
Frightened since 2013, we have moved forward on the path of great uncertainty. Although the recent Supreme Court judgment has defended the call, without a permanent solution our fate hangs in the balance of the power of bigotry. With that in mind, I also acknowledge my own rights as one who qualified for the DACA and the nearly 11 million other unauthorized individuals who contribute to this country through their work and the taxes they pay are completely unprotected from deportation.
Daka was a life-changing summary. It was far-fetched to pursue a career in film criticism before its implementation and the work permit that came with it. When you come from a marginal background, it is frightening and frustrating to dream big, because of the lack of external energy and examples of the impossibility of such aspirations.
Gradually, I’ve worked for seven years where fastfood has become a key to paving a road away from the place and writing from passion to making a living. A personal blog became a paid piece for small websites. Over the years, the bylines of places such as the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times have come down great because of the editors who have had the opportunity for me.
Yet the thought of losing DACA and being forced to go back into the shadows remains, and on a more practical level, I am repeatedly reminded of my condition as an unauthorized person through things I still cannot participate in.
Part of the work of professional film critics involves participating in international festivals, which is practically out of the question for me without real risk. Not being able to travel abroad on the huge plan of injustice is reduced, but I am now a part of that field, it is really limited. I haven’t been to famous festivals like Toronto or Cannes yet, and there’s no guarantee I’ll be able to in the new future.
Fortunately, thanks to multiple initiatives such as Rotten Tomatoes and Chase Ebert founded that aimed to include diverse critics at major events through financial support, I have experienced the Sundance Film Festival and various regional festivals across the country that have served as platforms. To grow in this category of Network, Land Assignment and Film World.
A few months after Daka made national news in 2013 and the White House began a legal battle to overcome it, I was approved to cover the interview room at the Latin Language Culture Awards, the Academy of Awards for the English Language Awards. Last February I covered this event for the third time in a row. These elites have the ability to gain access. As I set foot on the red carpet at the Oscars, I was overwhelmed and thought of my little soul, and countless young men and women like me who saw these moments as just unattainable dreams.
As part of a group that is still fighting for basic human rights – let alone presentations in the media – many of my colleagues and I feel a level of activism in everything we do. This does not mean that job competition has diminished, but that the lenses we use have a different relevance. Likewise, each milestone or victory, regardless of its size, is divided into large parts with a community. We feel an additional responsibility in every step we take to get better or worse, as we are still keeping the door open for us that was closed.
On the surface, I can only write about movies, but in doing so, I’m ignoring pre-conceived notions of what is possible for undecided people. We are part of every industry and try our best to improve between them in spite of perpetual animosity. There are Dakar recipients who are workers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, scholars, filmmakers, film critics and everything in between. Our presence is a work of despair.
Putting my thoughts on the page, whether I am writing from personal experience or just reviewing a new publication, speaks of the right to fulfill our lives beyond sadness and the importance of keeping our voice part of the conversation around culture and art. Every written word is the legitimacy of my existence and the statement of millions of people like me whose humanity is constantly questioned, often forced by foreigners to leave their homeland.
From where I stand today, still struggling but with some hard-earned experience, I look forward to the day when exceptionalism disappears because many of us will be present – from all presented backgrounds – within the circle of influence should be perceived as isolated entities.
Originally from Mexico City, Carlos Aguilar is a Los Angeles-based film critic whose work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wrap and Indiver. He is a member of the Los Angeles Film Critics