Despite the difficulties of the pandemic, the Sundance Film Festival 2022 managed to bring to the screen a lineup of inspiring stories and cinematic talent.
Over the past weekend, one documentary, in particular, won over audiences. We are talking about “Mija,” Isabel Castro’s non-fiction documentary that explores the experience of Doris Muñoz, who grew up in Southern California, the daughter of undocumented immigrants from Mexico.
Doris Anahí Muñoz is an ambitious music manager whose undocumented family depends on her ability to discover aspiring pop stars, as described by IndieWire. At just 26 years old, she has already launched multiple Chicano musicians, carving out a space for their culture within the industry. Mija dives into the world of a young woman trying harder than anyone else because for Doris and her family, “making it is not just a dream but a necessity.”
“Mija is my first feature film,” said director Isabel Castro. “I have been covering immigration and civil rights for over a decade but was grappling with how to tell a different kind of immigration story, one that doesn’t reduce the experience to one only of trauma and loss. I wanted to show the full range of emotions that come along with immigrating to the United States — everything from guilt to joy.”
The documentary explores the intersection between the identity of a generation and a community, where Muñoz is the connection between Mexico and the United States. This connection becomes evident when the young woman discovers Jacks Haupt, a young artist from Dallas, Texas, who shares much of the manager’s experience.
Early on in the film, Muñoz shouts “Thanks for letting me be your mom, kids!” to Cuco’s band and crew, in a gesture that seals the narrative thread of the story.
“When I met Doris [Muñoz], I knew she was the best person to do [this film] with,” Castro said during the screening of the documentary. “The overarching goal of this film is to have as many people see this and feel this and be heard,” she added.
Muñoz, herself, concluded: “Baby Doris needed this film to let her know that her family would be reunited that day. You don’t know when or if it’s actually going to happen… I daydreamed of reunions growing up, just to give myself that sense of hope. So I hope that this film gives that sense of help to others too.”
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