Short Film Spotlight: Room 140

The Bright Wall/Dark Room Short Film Spotlight is a regular feature celebrating independent short films by emerging filmmakers. To submit a film for consideration, visit our profile at FilmFreeway.

Room 140 is a short documentary that highlights the stories of five immigrants as they spend the night in an Oakland motel following their release from U.S. detention centers. The stories that they share are ones of tremendous courage, sacrifice, pain, and hope. Director Priscilla González Sainz supports her subjects with an unobtrusive and subtly compassionate eye, creating a vital work of art and an essential activist document.

Room 140 calls to mind Roger Ebert’s comment that “the movies are like a machine that generates empathy,” a phrase cited so often that it’s by now passed into the realm of aphorism. But the words that Ebert chose to precede those ones in the remarks he delivered in 2005 at the Chicago Theatre deserve to be considered and shared just as widely:

We all are born with a certain package. We are who we are: where we were born, who we were born as, how we were raised. We’re kind of stuck inside that person, and the purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people.

Our government’s disgraceful and inhuman treatment of legal asylum seekers demonstrates in the starkest way possible the crisis of empathy infecting America, one that has already cost a human debt we will never be able to repay. Please consider supporting the work of organizations such as RAICES, The Women’s Refugee Commission, The International Rescue Committee, and KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), and join in the planned nationwide protests on July 12 through Lights for Liberty.