The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Documentary seeks to expand conversations on struggles of immigrant entrepreneurs

Documentary seeks to expand conversations on struggles of immigrant entrepreneurs - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

Patricia Nazario, journalist and film director, speaks to The Mesquite Sept. 21, 2022, via Zoom about her documentary, "Backstreet to the American Dream." The film, which explores inclusion through street food and the journey of an immigrant family in the food truck industry, will be screened 6-7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 in the auditorium of Texas A&M University-San Antonio. Image capture by Sergio Medina

As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Texas A&M University-San Antonio will host a free screening of the documentary, “Backstreet to the American Dream,” by journalist Patricia Nazario 6-7:30 p.m. Sept. 24 in the auditorium. 

The documentary follows two Los Angeles families, one of Mexican immigrants and one American, working in the food truck industry, contrasting their experiences in accomplishing the “American dream.” 

According to the film’s synopsis, they are not equal experiences, as the immigrant family faces more roadblocks than its counterpart. 

“The film, I think, I hope, is validating for people from all walks of life who’ve had some sort of experience with family separation, family reunification or entrepreneurship,” she said.

Nazario produced her documentary for over a decade, having to quit her journalism job in 2010 at a National Public Radio affiliate radio station in L.A. to dedicate herself to the project. Through the years, she used the sound and video skills learned in her journalistic journey — which includes award-winning coverage of Miami’s Cuban community — to ease her filmmaking.

Food manages to be a “great unifier,” Nazario said in a Zoom interview Sept. 21. 

Journalism has evolved through social media, spurring reporters to explore communities and relay information, and that helps access other cultures, expands curiosity and inclusion, Nazario said. Street food is a bridge that closes that gap.

“And so you have this experience where there is acceptance through something that’s so common, like food,” she said. “So it feels like it’s an opportunity for people to create conversations and dialogue through food, but in that comes the … acceptance. 

“Hispanics and Latinos move away from these negative names or stereotypes,” Nazario said, referring to the negative stereotype of people calling food trucks “roach coaches.” 

“People move away from that sort of negative focus, and then begin to call people by their first name; they know their children; they know, you know, their wife’s names, the dog’s name, and they have conversations, like more human-to-human interactions,” she added.

Born in New York and partially raised in L.A., Nazario earned a bachelor’s in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles, and a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. 

The film won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature and Best Food Film at the 28th annual San Antonio Film Festival. It was also a finalist for the Ruben Salazar National Journalism Award in December. Additionally, it won a Special Jury Award at the Workers Unite Film Festival in October 2021 at Greenwich Village, New York.

The film screening will be complemented by a Q&A segment with Nazario. 

For more information, contact the Society for Human Resource Management at shrm@tamusa.edu.

About the Author

Sergio Medina
Editor in Chief
Sergio Medina is a journalism senior and assistant editor for The Mesquite at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. He transferred from San Antonio College in December 2021, where he was editor for The Ranger student publication for four years. Sergio’s proclivity for journalism comes from a love for storytelling consisting of movies, video games, books, TV series and comic books. Upon completing his bachelor’s degree, Sergio aims to be part of the journalism machine servicing the community.

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