Roy Germano’s New Documentary: “The Other Side of Immigration”
Roy Germano holds an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago and is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, where he does research on Mexican immigration, remittances sent to Mexico and other developing economies, agricultural policy, Mexican politics, and economic development.
From 2005-2008, Roy’s academic research was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program ($120,000). Additionally, his fieldwork was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation Political Science Program, and the Department of Government, Center for Latin American Social Policy, and College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin.
In January 2007, Roy worked as a research associate in Morelos, Mexico with the Mexican Migration Project, an annual household survey project directed by Douglas Massey and Jorge Durand. In January 2008, Roy founded and directed the Emigration & Politics Study (EPS), a survey of 768 households in rural communities in Michoacán, Mexico.
While in the field running the Emigration & Politics Study, Roy also shot The Other Side of Immigration. The film provides a 55-minute window into the some of the causes and effects of international migration from the perspective of residents in “high-emigration” communities in the Mexican countryside. Roy funded, shot, directed and edited The Other Side of Immigration independently–without a crew, staff, budget, or formal training in filmmaking. This is his first film.
Many good documentaries have been made about immigration. Most, however, tend to focus on border issues, the process of crossing the border, or the struggles of immigrants living in the United States.
The Other Side of Immigration, on the other hand, was shot entirely in Mexico and provides a rare look at the migration phenomenon through the eyes of people in “high-emigration” towns in rural Mexico.
There is no narrator telling you what to believe in The Other Side of Immigration, nor are there “bad guys,” “good guys,” or “victims.” Rather, in contrast to many films on the subject, The Other Side of Immigration avoids ideological arguments and instead relies heavily on the director’s doctoral research to convey it’s subtle yet thought-provoking message and to propose new ways that the U.S. and Mexican governments can begin working together on this critical binational issue.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
A central message of The Other Side of Immigration is the notion that migration is the byproduct of larger social, political, and economic forces and a phenomenon that affects those who stay behind in Mexico positively and negatively.
Rather than focus on just one aspect of the migration phenomenon or a few personal stories, The Other Side of Immigration is organized around major themes in migration and development research, blending structural perspectives and personal accounts to leave audiences with a unique and wide-ranging outlook on the issue.
The Other Side of Immigration is therefore just as much a film about social norms, global markets, agricultural policy, well-intentioned political goals, vote buying and corruption, brotherhood, children, families, income multipliers, difficult tradeoffs, and outside-the-box thinking as it is a film about immigration.