Sparked by backlash to a neo-nazi rally and anti-immigrant laws, a group of activists organize their community to build Phoenix Allies for Community Health, a free clinic for undocumented immigrants. Follow nurse and social activist Jason Odhner as he journeys to the crossroads of a national debate over healthcare and immigration. 'Salud Sin Papeles : Health Undocumented' delves into the heart and history of the clinic, and the poignant stories of patients illuminate the struggles of the marginalized undocumented community. The film highlights how the clinic and its volunteers have worked, one patient at a time, to make a dent in a problem that has plagued our country for decades. Exploring how health care disparities perpetuate poverty, the film models a grassroots movement that can be replicated to effect change in other communities.
“They tried to build this organized Nazi presence in Phoenix, and everything they tried to build fell apart. But the one thing that lasted, the one thing that still remains because of them, is the people that they hated most and wanted to chase out of town get free health care.” - Jason Odhner.
PRODUCER & DIRECTOR
Juan Freitez is a Venezuelan filmmaker and video journalist debuting his first feature length documentary, Salud Sin Papeles : Health Undocumented. For his work on the film, Freitez was awarded the highly-competitive Artist Research and Development Grant from The Arizona Commission on the Arts and The National Endowment for the Arts. He is also the recipient of The Pollination Project’s Social Change Leader Grant. Freitez’s work as an independent filmmaker and the founder of Community Grassroots Media focuses on highlighting social and political issues in underserved communities. Human rights and immigration are recurring topics in his work. An immigrant himself, Freitez came to the United States with only $150 to his name and fundamentally understands the difficulties and discrimination that immigrants face in trying to achieve the ever-elusive American Dream. He remains dedicated to working with underserved communities and nonprofits, and has partnered with many national and international human rights and social activism organizations including Phoenix Allies for Community Health, Trans Queer Pueblo, Last Mile Health, Mixed Voces, and the Maricopa Alliance for Shelter and Housing. His documentary shorts have been featured on NPR, PRI’s The World, NBC News, and The Huffington Post.
I immigrated to the United States in 2000 to pursue my dream of becoming a filmmaker. I landed in Michigan with $150 to my name, fighting to make ends meet as I paid my way through school. Working shoulder to shoulder with other immigrants, we bonded over being strangers in a foreign land. We commiserated over being judged for our accents and treated as second class citizens. I understand inherently the struggle immigrants face in trying to survive in this country. But one difference between us was key: I had papers. I had a student visa.
Starting with English school, I began to climb the social ladder of the United States. When I moved to Phoenix in 2012, I saw for the first time the very conditions I thought I had left behind in Venezuela. How could one of the richest countries in the world remain impoverished? How could it have left so many behind? Phoenix opened my eyes to the racism and crippling oppression lurking beneath the facade of the American Dream, and I wanted to understand and explore the roots of this inequality.
I met a group of street medics that was remodeling a dilapidated house to build a free clinic to serve the undocumented population of Phoenix. I tagged along with their crew, helping to paint and move furniture. As Phoenix Allies for Community Health took shape, I interpreted for patients and providers. The clinic was combating one of the primary causes of poverty in the United States: lack of access to healthcare. I wanted to document the work of the clinic and the community that came together to build it, especially the industrious and inspiring patients. I formed deep bonds with many of these patients, who welcomed me and my camera into their homes and lives with love and trust both as a fellow immigrant, and as a storyteller.
Three years later, the short had grown into a feature-length documentary and events in the country had taken an extraordinary turn. Immigrants were being vilified by the holder of the highest public office in the United States. White nationalists and neo-Nazis held a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia at which a counter protester was killed. And Joe Arpaio, the Phoenix sheriff notorious for racial profiling against Hispanics, was pardoned by the president.
It is in this moment of darkness that I hope Salud Sin Papeles : Health Undocumented can serve as a beacon of hope, showing what can be done when a community rises up against intolerance. The film was an expression of my perception of what it means to be an immigrant in the United States. I hope that this story illuminates how oppression is perpetuated through lack of access to healthcare and how inaction damages our society and economy. And I hope that it serves as a celebration of the incredible perseverance and dedication that burn deep in those of us who come here to build a better life for ourselves and our families.
Health Undocumented is a new powerful documentary film at the crossroads of the current national debate over healthcare and immigration. The film follows the journey of a courageous group of activists as they build a free clinic for undocumented immigrants, and explores the poignant stories of immigrant families who struggle to access basic healthcare.
To bring these inspiring stories to audiences nationwide we have recently launched an EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH TOUR. Through screenings and other events, we aim to shed light on the everyday realities of the families at the center of the immigration debate and to spark thought-provoking conversations and reflection around immigrants and the impact of socioeconomic and cultural variables on health.
Interested? Contact us to book a screening of Health Undocumented at your campus, school, community or faith-based group, public library, theatre, etc.. For a limited time, the director, Juan Freitez, and others from the film might be available to conduct post-screening talkbacks.
Freedom Film Festival 2018
Thursday, October 4, 2018 - 2:00pm
PJ Live Arts,Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
International Film and Human Rights Festival of Valencia – HUMANS FEST 2019
Historic State Theater, Ann Arbor, Michigan