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10 Must See Movies About Immigrants and Immigration

Immigration is an undeniably important part of the American experience. Therefore, it is no surprise that the immigrant experience has also played a major role on the big screen. While there are far too many excellent movies about immigration to include them all, the following is a list of ten must see movies about immigrants and immigration. These movies are as varied as the immigrant experience itself.

  • The Immigrant (1917): Stories of immigration on the big screen start from the earliest days of Hollywood. The Immigrant is a silent romantic comedy that stars a penniless Charlie Chaplin. He sneaks aboard a ship that is crossing the Atlantic for America and falls in love along the way. In 1998, this movie was selected for the National Film Registry.
  • America America (1963): Adapted from a novel, America America tells the tale of a young Greek boy dreaming of a better future in the United States.
  • Coming to America (1988): Starring Eddie Murphy as the wealthy king of a fictitious African country, this comedy highlights some of the more lighthearted sides of the immigrant experience.
  • Gangs of New York (2002): Martin Scorsese was responsible for directing the Oscar nominated Gangs of New York. Led by Leonardo Dicaprio, this film tells the story of a young Irish immigrant who, after being released from prison, seeks to avenge the murder of his father, a murder that came at the hands of a vicious anti-immigrant gang leader.
  • The Lost Boys of Sudan (2003): A documentary, the Lost Boys of Sudan follows the heartbreaking and inspirational story of young boys who suffered greatly due war in the African country. The boys begin their journey at a refugee camp in Kenya and make their way to the United States.
  • The Kite Runner (2007): The Kite Runner, adopted from a novel, is another movie that deals with the refugee experience, this time using the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a backdrop.
  • Sin Nombre (2009): A Spanish language film, Sin Nombre, follows a Honduran teenager on her quest through Mexico to safety in the United States.
  • Entre Nos (2009): This film, based in part on a true story, is about a Colombian immigrant and her tribulations surviving with two young children on the streets of New York City.
  • A Better Life (2011): An American drama, A Better Life is about a Mexican-born undocumented laborer, and his day to day struggles living in Los Angeles.
  • The Immigrant (2013): The 2013 version of ‘The Immigrant’ is no remake; it stars a downtrodden Polish nurse forced into a life of prostitution. It is fitting that this list ends with same title that it starts with, as the immigrant experience is both timeless and yet completely unique.

Are You an Immigrant in L.A.?

The compassionate immigration attorneys at the Law Office of Joshua L. Goldstein can help. Our team is dedicated to assisting immigrants throughout the country, including those in the entertainment industry. We have offices in Boston and Los Angeles and have extensive experience handling a wide array of immigration issues. If you or a family member needs legal assistance, please contact our Los Angeles immigration lawyers today to discuss your legal options.