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Room 140

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In Oakland, California, a small Guatemalan indigenous community has formed around a church led by Pastor Gomez. Through underground connection networks, the pastor learns of immigrants being released in Oakland. When they have nowhere to go, he rents a room for them to stay at a local motel where he works. With no money and no certainty of what lies ahead, these travel-weary migrants come to the motel to eat and rest and prepare for the next day. This film depicts individuals on the day of their release.  

Director Statement

My parents came to the United States from Mexico in the 1970s. Much of my work has dealt with the dual identity of being a first generation American, and it was important for me to go back further to explore migration stories, particularly in this political and social climate.

On one day of filming, the individual I would be working with that day was already in the hotel room, waiting for me. I arrived and set up, and she sat on a couch. Before even rolling, she started to tell me her story.

In pursuing this project, I wanted to represent voices that are silenced or unheard because they are deemed insignificant. I am so honored that participants trusted me with their stories.


In selecting the excerpts in this film, I wanted to give depth and complexity to “stereotypes” who we see in the news and media and represent individuals going through an extreme transition. Apart from their specific situation: crossing the border, only to be detained for seeking asylum, there is a universal connection to anyone who has been through a difficult transition.  The feeling of limbo, separation from loved ones, hunger and cold are issues that transcend gender, race, or ethnicity.

Room 140 Director - Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz

Director Bio

Priscilla González Sainz is a Mexican-American filmmaker based in Southern California. Her work focuses on first-generation and women’s stories and themes of displacement and identity. Priscilla recently earned her MFA in Documentary Film and Video from Stanford University, where she was awarded a Stanford Arts grant and curated the Latin American Cinema series Espejos. Her thesis film ROOM 140 was a Student Academy Award Semifinalist and was nominated for the IDA Wolper Student Documentary Achievement Award. Her films have garnered recognition and screened at various film festivals including AFI Docs, Full Frame, Big Sky, Palm Springs ShortFest, Los Angeles Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival and more.  She is currently in production on Tribeca-supported “Untitled Immigration Lawyer Documentary.”  


Directed, produced, and edited by Priscilla Gonzalez Sainz.

Sound: Leonor Zúniga Gutiérrez, Cheng Zhang, Chris Ward.

Additional Camera: Chris Ward

Technical Assistance: Paul Meyers, Mark Urbanek.

Faculty Advisors: Srdan Keca, Jan Krawitz, Jamie Meltzer.

Composer: Matthew Fishel

Sound Mix: Dan Olmsted

Colorist: Mark Sterne

Special thanks to my cohort: Olivia A. Booker, Dane Christensen, Sam Ellison, Leonor Zúniga Gutiérrez, Puck Lo, Lyntoria Newton, Aria Swarr.

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