With the daily political narrative being defined within a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction framework, filmmaker Nelson Denis has taken a satirical crack at addressing these strange times we currently live in. The former New York State Assemblyman and acclaimed author of War Against All Puerto Ricans recently shot Make America Great Again, a feature film that takes a look at the trials and travails of an undocumented immigrant from the Dominican Republic, played by Angel “Chi Chi” Salazar (Scarface).
Shot entirely in Denis’ hometown Washington Heights neighborhood, Denis’ follow-up to 2003’s Vote For Me! centers on Salazar’s Rogelio Yola coming to the United States to help his elderly sister Tati (Gloria Zelaya), while attempting to pursue the American Dream. Along the way, Yola runs afoul of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and is declared a terrorist while enduring a number of absurdist-flavored, ripped-from-the headline situations.
Denis touches on numerous anecdotal scenarios that residents of communities wind up regularly dealing with. Among them are being preyed upon by unscrupulous immigration lawyers who promise non-existent bureaucratic pathways to getting a green card and grappling with a higher-than-average rate of asthma affliction in these neighborhoods. Denis winds up pushing this narrative while weaving in Chaplin-esque chase scenes and quirky characters.
As someone whose father was grabbed up at 3 in the morning by the FBI, accused of being a spy and deported back to Cuba days after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Denis has first-hand experience with the sense of persecution and of families being ripped apart that are at the heart of Make America Great Again.