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Vida Diferida

USA, 2017
23 min
English/Spanish dialogue. Embedded English/Spanish subtitles.
CC English


VIDA DIFERIDA (LIFE, DEFERRED) tells the story of Vanessa, a teenager born in Mexico who has lived in the United States with her family since she was six years old. Once an excelling middle-school student with big dreams of becoming a doctor, Vanessa begins to be haunted by her undocumented status as she reaches high school. Reconsidering her aspirations, Vanessa begins to give up on academics. Then, in the summer of 2012, President Obama approves the “Deferred Action” policy that would grant Vanessa immunity from being deported for the next two years and allow her to get a job and apply to college. Vanessa’s story offers a window into the DACA generation, the impact of this policy on a young person’s life and the new challenges ahead. As government policies take new turns with a new administration, VIDA DIFERIDA highlights the uncertainties haunting undocumented youth and their families in the USA.

Still from Vida Diferida
Avila Hanna brings an insider’s heart and outsider’s skill to bear on this portrait of one young woman whose undocumented status is shadowing her future. Poignant, eye-opening, and only hesitantly joyous, VIDA DIFERIDA should be required viewing in schools everywhere.—B. Ruby Rich, UC Santa Cruz

Director’s Commentary

VIDA DIFERIDA began as an annual year end compilation for a non-profit working with immigrant families. I was a Heritage Spanish teacher at Vanessa’s middle school, and was also in charge of some community outreach events and communication with students’ families. Each passing year, a video compilation hoped to reveal the children’s growth and bring them closer to their academic and life goals. However, undocumented youth in the group had to learn how to slow themselves down, limit their aspirations and prepare for an adulthood to be spent in the shadows. As I compiled the life of Vanessa over several years, DACA happened. While there are wonderful sources and organizations bringing awareness to the DREAMers’ plight, this personal, coming-of-age visual testimony highlights family and community relations as an integral part of the experience. Over the course of the film, we share everyday events with the Martinez family: picnics, birthday parties and graduations of a tight knit family trying to make the most out of life. Years go by, relationships come and go, but the clock is ticking as Vanessa runs out of options for her future. The film time span is also crucial for a deeper understanding of DACA and raises questions about the challenges ahead. I hope this film brings immigration conversations into a place where entire families are remembered in the context of their children, and that these children find support and encouragement from the audiences of this film.

Still from Vida Diferida
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