PARENTS OF THE YEAR
2005, 21 minutes
Purchase: $210 Classroom Rental: $55
Every morning at three a.m. an old Chevy pick-up truck with an old bicycle tied to the cracked tailgate pulls into the parking lot behind St. Mark's Hotel in Venice Beach, California. Rogelio and Yolanda Garcia, immigrants from Mexico, emerge to begin their "jobs" digging through dumpsters and garbage cans for the next fourteen hours in search of plastic bottles, glass and aluminum cans. Yolanda has endured this work, rain or shine, for twenty years, after she lost her job in an INS Raid; Rogelio has worked since 1993, when he was fired from his job as a dishwasher. The Garcias once thought of their job as a quick fix. Now they call it a career - albeit one with no benefits and no days off. When she began she would hide her head in the trash whenever she saw another person from her hometown. But her shame was trumped by the dream of sending her children to college. When her eldest son, Rogelio, Jr., is accepted to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, her dream seems within grasp.
In 2000, Los Angeles Times reporter Jose Cardenas chronicled the Garcias' extraordinary struggle in an exhaustive article published in the paper's Sunday edition. The story provoked an immediate response from around the world and was picked up by media as diverse as People and the National Enquirer. The Garcia family receive letters of support from around the world and make a tear-filled appearance on Sabado Gigante, the world's most-watched Spanish-speaking television show. For conservatives, the Garcia's are proud icons of family values; for liberals, they are victims of endemic immigrant poverty, proof of globalization's hypocrisy and failure.
Subjects & Collections
Festivals & Awards* The Grand Jury Prize, Austin Film Festival
* Jury Prize, Palm Springs Festival of Short Films
* Audience Award, Los Angeles Film Festival
* Nominee for IDA Award for Distinguished Short Documentary of 2004
* Grand Jury Prize, USA Film Festival
Reviews“Parents of the Year does a good job depicting the struggle of today’s working poor, a large segment of the population that nevertheless remains invisible to many. It’s also a solid contribution to the “American Dream” mythos… Parents of the Year is a great discussion-starter and recommended for public, school, and academic libraries.” - Educational Media Reviews Online