At the surface, and at the core, of Mija you’ll find the story of Doris Muñoz and her struggle to find where she fits in this world as the daughter of immigrant parents. Doris is a 26-year old music manager whose success has caught even her by surprise. She is the youngest in her family and is the only one born in America, bearing a weight many understand.
When her career hits a low and she loses her job she can no longer support her family, and that includes helping to get green cards for her family. Doris is forced to rethink her own future and so starts her hustle for the next job. That is when she comes across a kindred spirit, a young Chicana indie-pop star named Jacks Haupts. Jacks is also the daughter of immigrants with the added issue of non-supportive parents.
Through the eyes of Doris (and Jacks), Mija offers a look at the life of a daughter of immigrants. The weight of responsibility and privilege that sits on their shoulders. It also shows how they are torn between two worlds; Mexico and America and dreams and duty. And in doing show gives us a portrait of two different generations, practically two different worlds.
The documentary is directed by Isabel Castro. She too is a Mexican-American journalist with four Emmy nominations to her name. She’s written on immigration issues for the New York Times and produced on the tv show Vice to name a few. Her writing and producing skills together with her real-life experience only benefit Mija in the best possible way.
Castro set out to make the film with the intention of showing a different side to the immigration story. Past the politics and past the headlines, she wanted to show real life. What she didn’t bargain for was a real pandemic. But, rather than sideline the project she, Doris, and Jacks marched, because what choice did they have but to work?
Mija is rough and at times wayward. And there lies its beauty. Be with Doris and the loss of her job or the film’s director Castro and her unwavering need to tell the story, life goes on. What Mija does is amplify the voices and the dreams of these American immigrant daughters and how they continue to strive forward despite the many obstacles they may face.
It does it in a way that is full of heart, and heartbreaking simultaneously. Pivotal moments in the Muñoz family are captured on camera and make Mija an absolute ‘must-see.’ And what Mija does is prove that when stories about our gente are told by our gente, only then, can we actually be seen. Only then will we be seen from the surface to the core.