Miami is America’s refugee city, and a movie showing that side of the 305 can change our national immigration conversation. Hollywood is America’s cultural capital and can easily dictate cultural opinions through pop music and what movies play in theaters. Filmmakers beautifully illustrate every side of Los Angeles and New York, but only focuses on Miami when they want something different. Usually, films shot in Miami tell a story of crime, guns, drugs, sex, and people who speak Spanish. Coincidentally, these are the same characteristics Americans believe describe refugees, as most recently articulated by Donald Trump. Hollywood also turns its attention to Miami when it needs an excuse to make another sequel for a successful franchise like: Step Up Revolution, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Godfather 2, Iron Man 3, and the latest Miami based sequel, Ride Along 2.
Though Miami has been the backdrop for many other stories, filmmakers are not taking the time to tell the real story of Miami. A small town that was once part of the cultural South, with early Miami residences all having thick southern accents, experienced a cultural transformation through Cuban refugees in the 1950s, and since then has slowly been known as a safe haven for Latin Americans escaping political oppression. Over the years Miami has evolved into the Capitol of Latin America with major South American focused diplomatic events happening on the shores of Key Biscayne. This once small southern town, now burgeoning Latin American metropolis, has a local economy and population that may soon overshadow Washington D.C. The Greater Miami Area, is already the fourth largest urban area in the U.S.
Our politicians hate refugees but love Miami, which shows a grave misunderstanding of what refugees can do. The story of the refugee is the story of Miami and to change our national conversation, Hollywood needs to show Miami is no longer a haven for the drug lords and cocaine cowboys of the1980s, but now a refuge for those seeking political and economic asylum as well as the American dream. Miami’s refugees are also not all Cuban, or Spanish speaking. Imagine seeing a movie about the story of the once very wealthy Venezuelan who had everything taken from them after Jugo Chavez took office, and took their family and what little they had left of their once vast estate to Miami for a chance to start over. Or the rural Haitian who grew up outside of Port-Au-Prince, and had to leave their home after the 2010 Earthquake and join their family in the Miami borough of Little Haiti.
These people are not the criminal, lying, drug vendors that some presidential candidates paint them to be, which shows the vast difference between reality and the opinion of our politicians. Instead, they are honest, asylum-seeking hopefuls pursuing the American dream because everything else was taken from them. Hollywood should stop making sequels, and start paying attention.