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The documentary takes place in the 1970s in Brooklyn New York. It is about a Dominican household and tells the story of 1st generation Dominican immigrants and the process of acculturation that the children are going through in the United States. Sandra and her husband Bautista work insane hours in order to sustain the household of their three daughters Mayra, Aida, and Monica. The mother and father have a hard work mentality and try to impart that ideology on their children. However, that is not the case because even though Monica had graduated from Colombia; her sisters are an entirely different story, since both parents work to sustain the household the two youngest sisters are left to their own devices.
The purpose of this documentary is to show the different degrees of assimilation and how it varies in the family. For instance, Sandra has a much laid back personality when it comes to paying her utility bill on time. She is very calm, she is reminded of life in Dominican Republic when they heavily relied on candles made of honey. That was the electricity on the island, you could tell from that scene that Sandra likes simplicity and remanences of going back to Dominican Republic. However, that is a completely different case for her Monica, Aida, and Mayra because they were born in the United States, they received their education and Sandra knows they have a better future. This documentary does a great job in high lighting the differences between the 1st and 2nd generation of the nuclear family.
Before watching this documentary, I had previous knowledge through my own experiences. I myself am a 1.5 generation immigrant and I was very fortunate to have been raised in the United States because of the opportunities that I received. However, my path was also paved with constant challenges and tribulations because of the fact that my family is not American they are Russian Jewish. I identified with the film because those girls were already used to having everything at their disposal and enjoyed the lifestyle, such as having running water, electricity, and access to education. Another aspect of the film that I identified with was that the younger sisters are completely left unattended while their parent were working. Monica could have played a more active role in her sister’s education and helping them apply to college. From personal experience it is much better when the older sibling takes a stand in the education and development of the younger generation.
In short the documentary, is an in-depth view into how the Dominican family lives and it is a three-story house in Brooklyn. However, all those floors are occupied of Sandra’s family that they have brought over from the Dominican Republic. Despite, Sandra’s lack of education she fully supported Monica graduating from college and tries to enforce the same on Aida and Mayra. Sandra tries to impose stricter standards for both her younger daughters in order for them to succeed especially after she visited Mayra’s school and found out the severity of the situation. Sandra even plans to move back to the Dominican Republic after Mayra is done with high school. When the family is planning on going back to Dominican Republic during Christmas Sandra is buying a lot of presents, food, and house products. While Aida and Mayra are going on the trip but Monica did not want to go because she had a lot of work to do. This is when Sandra stated ‘Monica is the real American girl’ because became distant from the family. Sandra has also been investing money back into the Dominican Republic to build a new home for the family, and she also gave away the extra food to impoverished community.
The production for this documentary was very simple but powerful because it emphasized the lives of a Dominican family that have huge aspirations for their daughters. The one thing that I really liked is when there is action of one person but there is calm voice over of the person narrating the story. The reason why I like this is because it really focuses on the individual’s lives and what their mentality is in choosing to identify with American or Dominican. The interviews also played a key role in the film because it captured their perspective or attitude in a particular situation. For example, when Aida was in trouble there was raw footage of the kids throwing eggs at Aida and Sandra having to step in and resolve the situation. This film did a great in making the audience feel part of the family with the intimate cinematography.
This was a great documentary because it showed the life of a Dominican immigrant family, in which Sandra and Bautista sacrificed so much to have their children live in the United States. It was great watching the documentary, because I had comfort in knowing that I have similar experiences in terms of having a different set of culture differences than my parents. I would recommend this film to my friends and family who come from an immigrant background or show to those who have no idea what the dynamics are for an immigrant household.
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