Daily Stream: América

Chris Stults, Associate Curator, Film/Video

Mar 31, 2020

Diego Alvarez-Serrano and his grandmother América sit and cuddle together in a scene from Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside's 2018 documentary América

América, the debut feature film by Ohioans Chase Whiteside and Erick Stoll, never got the release in the US that it deserved. The directors have made the film available for free to friends during this moment where we’re all housebound and we're excited that they've allowed us to share it with you. Whiteside and Stoll are graduates of Wright State—they were students of Julia Reichert and Stoll went on to work with Reichert and Steve Bognar on their film American Factory—and they did post-production work on the film at the Wexner Center’s Film/Video Studio.

The film drops us in on the lives of three young men in Mexico who tend to their charismatic 93-year-old grandmother, América, who is increasingly immobile with advanced dementia. The liveliness of the boys and their playful relationship with their grandmother makes the film a poignant joy. Just as the boys are starting to figure out their own lives, they have to put everything on hold for the very adult responsibilities of caring for their grandmother. It’s powerful to see young men shown as caretakers, offering a representation of a very different kind of masculinity than we usually see in the media.

Stoll and Whiteside brought one of the film’s main subjects, Diego, with them when the Wexner Center screened América at the Unorthodocs festival in 2018 and he was one of the most charming presences we’ve had on stage. Though the film was an audience favorite of that year’s Unorthodocs and many other festivals, and it was called one of 2018's best undistributed films by Film Comment, it was an easy one to miss. So it’s a special joy to be able to point you towards this memorable film! 

Note from Whiteside: "América is free to watch at this private link for an uncertain amount of time. Watch, share, and then call your grandma!"

Watch América on YouTube.

Image courtesy of the filmmakers

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