‘Dear Homeland,’ a Musical Love Letter to Mexico, Premieres on YouTube

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Director Claudia Escobar’s feature-length documentary Dear Homeland, produced by KQED, has appeared in virtual film festivals, drive-ins and select in-person screenings since its digital premiere in the summer of 2020. But beyond those engagements, opportunities to see this lyrical film about Mexican singer/songwriter Diana Gameros were limited. No more: come March 24, Dear Homeland will be available on KQED Arts’ YouTube channel, fulfilling Escobar’s goal of sharing Gameros’ journey from San Francisco back to Mexico, “a story of immigration, but also a celebration of women around the globe” with even more audiences.

Gameros left Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, to pursue her musical dreams in Michigan. Arriving legally but unable to extend her stay as an international college student, she became an undocumented immigrant who couldn’t return to her homeland and family for fear of not being able to re-enter the United States. When she moved to San Francisco, she found community, honed her musical talents and became an advocate for Dreamers and immigrant communities. Throughout, she struggled to change her own status.

For Escobar, making the documentary was deeply personal:

In Dear Homeland, I am telling a story about immigration at a time when families are separated and immigrants are treated like criminals, a time of deep humanitarian crisis. But the film I am making is first and foremost about Diana Gameros, a strong woman and artist working towards her dreams. Like me, she is an immigrant, a daughter of violence and resilience who lived undocumented for many years in the United States. ...

I am trying to understand the label of “undocumented” and what it means to be an immigrant in this country. Telling the story of Diana Gameros is a way to understand my own story, and to understand the stories of many like us. Dear Homeland celebrates the strength and beauty of humans who, despite having limited opportunities, have big dreams and find a way to reach for their goals.

Ultimately, Escobar believes telling stories like Gameros’ can help transform the way we regard one another across borders. “And hopefully sooner rather than later, this horror story of human migration will become a different type of story,” she says, “one that allows us to look back in peace and heal the wounds we have inflicted upon ourselves.”

Told in Diana’s own voice and through her mesmerizing, poetic music—and featuring footage of her life in Mexico, Michigan, San Francisco and on stage—Dear Homeland is a love letter to Mexico and to her family—full of sadness, longing and, in the end, hope and love.

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‘Dear Homeland’ premieres on KQED Arts’ YouTube channel on Thursday, March 24, 7pm PST. Details here.