Immigrant filmmakers are working toward a form of universalism in the
When watching film festivals and award shows, students often look up to filmmakers from their own countries. These role models are invaluable. Watching someone from the same place as you climb the industry’s ladder fosters feelings of hope and inspiration, making it seem possible to succeed ourselves.
The film industry is infamous for being extremely difficult to penetrate. Students without connections are often anxious about their future as a result. Truth be told, there’s no one way to get your foot in the door.
Filmmakers from different backgrounds enrich the ways stories can be told.
Talent comes from everywhere, and it’s encouraging to see foreign filmmakers recognized for their hard work. Directors like Guillermo del Toro, Alejandro G. Iñárritu, and Alfonso Cuarón are changing the game. Immigrant filmmakers give voice to the underrepresented.
The film industry, especially Hollywood, has a history of white supremacy and has been built on a colonial legacy. We probably couldn’t count every instance of racism or cultural exploitation that occurs within the industry if we tried.
However, immigrant filmmakers are making a positive impact and carving out spaces for everyone in Hollywood by exploring subject matter like racism, colonialism, and migration.
Even though there’s more representation nowadays, representation is more than checking boxes or hiring a multiracial cast. It’s about thinking critically, encouraging critical thinking, and helping audiences understand how it feels to walk in another person’s shoes.
Everyone can make a difference. For young immigrant filmmakers, it’s important to remember our heritage makes us special. Not only are our voices yet to be heard, but the world can benefit from hearing them. We should be proud, never ashamed, to share our view of the world.
Immigration is not an easy process; it means navigating the emotional challenges of leaving home behind but, at the same time, holding on to our cultural roots. The world needs good stories—not formulas—and immigrant filmmakers are here to deliver. Films are entertainment, but they can also teach and change the way we see things.
It’s easy to feel intimidated, especially when we face problems like language barriers. Most of our fears are bigger in our heads, and we should remember not everybody is in the same position, faces the same obstacles, or has the same advantages.
Ultimately, what matters is how we use everything available to us to make films.
Don’t wait for someone to tell you you’re a director, cinematographer, or video editor. Think like you already are one. Work on your portfolio and create opportunities for others by climbing the ladder and helping others get on top as well.
Many of our favourite foreign filmmakers started at the bottom, too.
Juan is a third-year Film and Media student and The Journal’s Assistant Video Editor.
Diversity and Inclusion, film industry, immigrant, Student filmmakers
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