Coming out of the growing ‘Abolish ICE’ movement – Gets Good Light is a compassionate and powerful protest against the growing powers of the Immigrant and Customs Enforcement Agency in the United States. Since the start of Trump’s administration, the number of individuals apprehended by ICE has only grown – approximately 4,143 undocumented immigrants without a criminal record are arrested each month in America. Set in near-future New York, Alejandra Parody’s short film is a heartfelt and cautionary tale about the effects of America’s growingly violent and harsh deportation and immigration policies.
Photo © Gets Good Light
Andrell (Edmond Cofie) is a Brooklyn-native working three jobs to stay afloat; acting as a bartender, trainee realtor, and occasional Uber driver. At his real estate job, he’s being praised by his higher-ups for his rental figures and ability to charm potential clients. Swarmed by passive racism and obnoxious remarks, Andrell’s boss dubs him a ‘survivor’ who dodged a bullet by being able to survive the ‘hellscape’ that was pre-gentrification Brooklyn. One night, Andrell tells the story of how his vulnerable grandfather got his home ‘scammed’ off him and resold at 2 million dollars. Andrell’s ambitions are not only wealth-driven, but ones of justice based on a reaction to systematic racism and class-based exploitation. Wishing to beat realtors at their own game, Andrell hopes his career in the housing market will earn him enough to buy back his grandfather’s house.
By day, Andrell shows individuals around a sleek, luxury condo – by night, that same condo is used to home his migrant friend, Manny (Cedric Leiba Jr.) and his family. Knowing each other from working at the same swanky restaurant downtown, the two share a secret that could shatter both their lives. One day, the restaurant is visited by ICE Agents looking for Manny, interrogating Andrell for information while also questioning his own citizen status – in this world, ‘citizens’ are classed as the elite and protected few. But even then, not all citizens are safe. Taunted by jeering officers claiming they can get Andrell deported to wherever matches his DNA test just for helping Manny – it’s clear that in this world, anybody who isn’t a white American is not safe.
Photo © Get Good Light
Parody’s prediction of the future for America is cynical and clear – things for migrants will only get worse as ICE’s intrusions on human rights grow as does apathy for those it affects. Opening with eerie cellos and shot in clinical, cold blues and whites, Parody imagines the forthcoming years for American immigrants to be unwelcoming and uncomfortable. Shut up in an apartment they can barely touch and never call their home, Manny’s family are stuck in a limbo of hope and despair as they live on borrowed time.
Gets Good Light is a story of mourning the American dream. Where hard work doesn’t pay off, the golden door is shut, and the open arms of lady liberty and her cries of welcoming ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free’ are silenced. Challenging, sorrowful, and determinedly principled, Gets Good Light is a frightening visualization of the current realities and future possibilities facing America.
Written by Abi Aherne