Grandma Has a Video Camera is a documentary about the use of home video by a family of Brazilian immigrants, chronicling their lives in the United States for over 20 years. From enchantment to disillusionment, from idealization to conformity, first-hand images and voices depict how recently arriving immigrants see their new world, and struggle to settle down in their adopted homeland.
The United States has been described as a "melting pot," a land where immigrants from diverse lands blend into something we call Americans. But this is changing. Immigrants today tend to hold on to their past and their original homelands, they resist assimilation in order to live a life that offers the best of both worlds. Children are encouraged to become Americans, but they are also taught to remain faithful to their roots.
Modern technology, from jet aircraft and the telephone to the Internet and cable television, has helped to shorten the distance between one's country of origin and the new land. And for grandma Elda, the video camera does that job just as well. For her, videotape is a substitute for family albums, TV entertainment, and writing letters to those back home. She has kept family ties strong by sending videotapes to those still in Brazil.
Grandma Has a Video Camera explores the parallel stories of the family's immigration, and how the video camera registers their lives. These video diaries examine issues of identity, social dynamics within immigrant families and their community, the conditions of transnationality and the conflicts of loyalty to a single country.
The Lalau-Cypriano family represents the different generations and different faces of immigration: those who never learn English, living solely within their immigrant community, as well as those who try to assimilate into their new culture. Some are born on American soil and struggle to fit their parents' culture into the society in which they live. They live here with one foot in each country, or move back and forth as they can't commit to one home. Some have dual citizenship. Others have lived here for 25 years and still hold a green card.