With your help, we will be able to raise awareness about the plight of immigrant women and our path to healing during these divisive times and the humanitarian immigration crisis in our country. Your support will go towards post-production expenses, taking the film from rough cut to finishing, as well as to creating art & dance for healing workshops.
Filmmaker Mabel Valdiviezo chronicles her journey as an undocumented artist in the U.S. reuniting with her family after a 16-year separation. When she returns to Peru, she confronts her past and unveils the secrets that tore her apart from her parents. Diagnosed with cancer, Mabel must find a way to open her heart and heal her broken family ties before it’s too late. Beyond the film, an interactive art installation component will make it accessible to immigrant audiences and invite them as co-creators.
“The deep resonance and parallels between Valdiviezo’s story and those of other immigrant women, reinforces the link between migration and mental health.”
–Xotchil Castañeda, Director, UC Berkeley’s Health Initiative of the Americas
Sixteen years after fleeing war-torn Peru, artist Mabel Valdiviezo undertakes an epic journey of healing and reconciliation. Living as an undocumented artist and stripper in San Francisco, Mabel endures trauma and addiction, her only refuge being the visceral art she obsessively draws in her journals. Visiting her family in Peru for the first time, Mabel faces her mother’s harsh judgment and her siblings’ resentment for abandoning them. As she reconnects with her rebellious punk youth days, Mabel comes to grips with the oppression that her family and friends suffered during former president Alberto Fujimori’s dictatorship. When dark family secrets resurface, Mabel confronts her parents about the abuse she endured as a child, and reveals her stripper past. Pressured by her religious mother to bury it all again, Mabel departs for the U.S. only to be diagnosed with cancer. The clock ticking, Mabel must find a way to open her heart and find resolution for both her family and herself.
Through the intimate lens of one courageous survivor, Prodigal Daughter explores and humanizes the complex nexus of family separation, mental health, identity & belonging, and border policy at a time of rising anti-immigrant sentiment.
My undocumented experience and health journey have led me to be immersed in the struggles of our times – diaspora, belonging, mental health, and cultural healing inform my work, challenging preconceived notions of Latino identity and its representation. Prodigal Daughter is my own story. In telling this personal story through film – with its capacity for symbolism and layered metaphor – the film will speak to Latino immigrants and American audiences alike, helping viewers to understand the complexity and social injustices facing undocumented workers.
As we witness the devastating effects of forced family separations as a result of the U.S. immigration policy, Prodigal Daughter is uniquely positioned to educate, inform, and change hearts and minds of mainstream audiences and policymakers on the urgent need for immigration reform and greater mental health services for all immigrants.
A recent study by Associate Professors Dr. Carol Cleaveland and Dr. Cara Frankenfeld from the George Mason University’s College of Health and Human Services found that Latina immigrants face Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at four times the national rate. (source: Be Latina, Gloria Malone. October 1, 2019)
We need a financial push to complete the film and release it into the community. Making long-form documentary films is very challenging in a society that doesn’t give enough access to resources and funding to immigrant women and indigenous filmmakers like myself. By using this platform, I seek to bring more visibility to my work and enhance the impact that this documentary can have in immigrant communities, partner organizations and allies in California and beyond.
Mabel Valdiviezo – Producer & Director
Mabel Valdiviezo is an award-winning indigenous Latinx filmmaker, multidisciplinary artist, and alumna of the Sundance Producers Conference. Utilizing a poetic vocabulary, she explores transnational migration, gender equality, mental health, and spirituality. Mabel is the founder of Haiku Films, a media company based in San Francisco. She is the associate producer of the feature documentary Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage. Mabel produced Carlos Baron, Poeta Pan, a documentary short for Spark, a PBS/KQED arts show, edited the feature documentaries River Webs and Women With Altitude, and has also been producing and editing mini-documentaries for corporate clients and non-profits for the past 15 years. Mabel is a winner of the Women in Film Emerging Filmmaker Award and her narrative film Soledad Is Gone Forever screened at LALIFF and the Cannes Film Festival’s Short Film Corner. Her feature-length script, Soledad’s Awakening, was a finalist at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. With her documentary Prodigal Daughter, she has participated in the NALIP Latino Producers Academy and received the 2019 San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Grant. She recently directed and produced the multimedia dance performance Metamorphosis: Phase 1 via CounterPulse’s Combustible Arts-in-Residency. As a community artist, Mabel co-creates with immigrants, women, and seniors using the expressive arts to promote empowerment and resilience. Mabel has been invited to speak about her work at universities and arts organizations, including UC Davis and UC Berkeley. Her work has been featured on BBC Outlook, ABC7, Forbes, and HuffPost. Mabel is a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Undocumented Filmmakers Collective, and NALIP.
Maria Zeiss – Editor
Maria Zeiss is a Venezuelan Emmy nominated editor and producer based in San Diego. She has worked in different genres since 1982 but her passion and expertise lies primarily in editing long form documentaries. Maria’s major editing credits and awards include Signing Our Way to Freedom (2018), Best Documentary, San Diego Film Festival; Sands of Silence: Waves of Courage (2017), Nominated to Best Documentary Feature at the 32nd Imagen Awards; The Price of Renewal (2006), Best Documentary Editing Nominee, Sacramento International Film Festival, (as part of the PBS documentary series California and The American Dream); Remaking American Medicine (2006), Cine Golden Eagle Award for PBS; Piragua, Best Documentary, IV National Film Festival; Angeles Desterrados, Special Award, International Film/Video Festival; and Buscando América and Crónica Anónicas, a documentary series for HBO. Maria has also worked for Univision, Discovery Channel, Warner Channel, and Cinemax/HBO Latin America for many years as Editor and Postproduction Coordinator in the Original Production Department. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Communications and a Master degree in Television, both in Venezuela.