"THE CITY (LA CIUDAD), the feature film debut of writer/director David Riker, is a moving tribute to the struggles and hopes of a group of new Latin American immigrants facing the harsh realities of urban America. Remini... more »scent of THE GRAPES OF WRATH and THE BICYCLE THIEF in its realistic and gritty portrayal, THE CITY delves deep inside this community of newcomers, creating a powerful and incisive drama about the life which they now face in a new and unfamiliar world? A group of men hired to work in an abandoned lot are left stranded in the face of tragedy; A young man arriving from Mexico falls in love with a girl from his home village, only to lose her in the intimidating urban wilderness; A puppeteer living homeless with his daughter dreams that she?ll one day learn to read, but is unable to make his simple dream a reality; and a seamstress, desperate to send money home to help her sick daughter, is trapped working in a sweatshop, eventually rebelling against her employers. A strikingly authentic drama, THE CITY takes us on an eye-opening and heartfelt journey through a world of frustration, hope and sheer will of spirit, and in the process leaves us with an enlightened view of a determined group of struggling contemporary Americans. "« less
"This movie is so moving and so provocative that I have yet to see a movie this good since I saw this one in 1998. Riker uses the techniques of neo-realist Italian cinema to tell 4 poigant stories concerning the lives of Latino immigrants. Each story focuses on characters of different ages and genders, but they share the same struggle to survive in New York's lower east side. There are fables, there are tragedies, but more importantly there is an endurance that the old man, the day-laborors, the seamstresses, and the couple put forth in a ghetto they call America."
New York is a world of it's own
Everett | Rio Rancho, NM USA | 03/27/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Honestly, I only took on an interest in The City (La Ciudad) on a whim when I saw that it had gotten plenty of good reviews, had been critically acclaimed by people such as Roger Ebert, but certainly low-budget. I had recently become a big fan of vignette style films and was willing to take a look at anything. But my hopes were somewhat strange when I saw it had been made in 1998 wondering if it might be a bit timely if not outdated. As it turns out, the film is just as relevant today as it was in between the years 1992 and 1997 when principal photography took place. There is just nothing to say that can justify this beautiful piece of art told through the black and white filter that takes over four people's dismal but emotionally charged lives.
THE CITY follows five principal characters: Jose, a young but hard working man who wishes he was home with his wife and son through the letters they always send him; Francisco, a young man who stumbles into a quinceñera just after arriving from Mexico but meets Maria, a girl at the party who has felt trapped ever since her own arrival five years previous; Luis, a single father and street puppeteer who wants the best for his daughter despite living out of his car with her; and Ana, a young seamstress worker who must find a way to send $400 home to her daughter who desperately needs medical attention. The four will soon discover through their stress-filled and taxxing days that life in the city may make them or break them...but their lifelong problems will never end.
Usually a film will leave you with some sort of redemption even with a sad ending. THE CITY, however, displays the harsh truths for these poor immigrants and the emotional odysseys they must endure every day. You long for Jose, Francisco, Maria, Luis, and Ana, our loving protagonists, to find their hope. Some of them nearly do but it falls out of their grasp. The message is ultimately, their problems will never end and the ending to their stories is almost irrelevant in that it's just one part of their entire lives. It's a big fat slap in the face to an audience who is not used to this but for a lot of people it's a reality.
The amazing cast, which was made up of mostly first-timers including actual immigrants, completely blew me away. The five leads told so much with their eyes and facial expressions that you can sense desperation and blank feelings of not having a sense of comfort. Personally, it became connecting with the actual person instead of the characters they were playing due to the fact they were almost playing themselves. The long absences of words filled with atmospheric music will send a chill up your spine. Fernando Reyes as Jose brought out hopelessness but a light of hope. He's the one who spends the least amount of time in front of the camera but when you do see him, dread and sorrow immediately follow through reading the letters his wife sends him.
Silvia Goiz as Ana was my other particular favorite. Goiz was absolutely mind-blowing. Her desperation for her character trying to get enough money for her daughter's operation were incredible. The emotion she invoked on the screen was also impeccable. Her face fills the screen with hope much more than the others as her womanly stubborness dominates the screen. Her difference from Jose, Francisco, Maria and Luis is that we know, as the audience, she's the one who won't give up. Cipriano Garcia as Francisco also portrayed a feeling of innocence in coming straight from Mexico to New York and getting lost but finding a sense of comfort in a girl from the same town. The dread that envelopes his face in a twist-of-fate ending is a mistake that runs the story full circle in a simple way.
David Riker, who toiled years to put the full-length film together in starting it as a student film, has made a film that should not and will not be forgotten. It is a film that once you see it, it will stick with you. I saw it four months ago and it's all I've been able to think about for the longest time. It is not a waste of time and much different than anything you will ever see or have seen before. Give it a chance. It's not just an art film, it's much more than that. It's our world and a sign of our times. You might get something out of it and I personally never say that about any film. You may even relate."
Gritty and incomparable......
D. Pawl | Seattle | 08/17/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"LA CIUDAD (The City) is a beautiful film shot entirely in gritty black and white and focuses on the lives and experiences of four groups of Latino immigrants, newly arrived in New York City. The story (with dialogue entirely in Spanish) has been compared to THE GRAPES OF WRATH and it is evident why. Through the eyes of the many struggling and hardworking people we come to know during the four short stories, we see the stark reality of the immigrant experience in the United States. While WRATH gave us a glimpse into the heartwrenching traumas faced by those who came on covered wagons during the Dustbowl to seek work in the fields. The stories broke my heart, ten years ago, and breaks it all over again when I think about the subject matter in this film. The first story tells the grim the tale of a group of brick layers on call for a job, the second is about a young Mexican boy who comes to the big city of New York, the third is about a homeless man and his daughter and the fourth depicts the plight of a woman toiling in the sweat shops, day in and day out. This movie really is unforgettable and will linger in your mind for a long time."
La Ciudad Review
Janet Medina | Chicago, IL | 04/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"La Ciudad is a significant documentary that provides full detail on illegal immigrants, more specifically Mexican immigrants, whom come to the United States. The structure of the film as well as the narrative was well organized. Each new story began a snap of a picture. The picture and/or camera can be analyzed as a way of communication between immigrants in the United States and their family back in Mexico. It is a way to keep in touch with their loved ones when they are far away. Another observation on the documentary is the repetition of windows. In the case of Luis, he takes his daughter to school and sees the classroom being conducted through a window. In order to enroll his daughter, Luis is to provide proof that he lives in the city. However, he does not have legal proof, a rent receipt or a phone bill, and is denied the enrollment of his child. In the film, immigrants would always look inside windows. The windows can be seen as the United States and how legal and illegal immigrants see the United States as a whole. However, it is the opposite of what immigrants might have expected the country to be. Immigrants might have expected a better life and/or working conditions once they immigrated to the country. They are struggling to obtain a decent job and are not allowed to receive public benefits such as an education as seen in the case of Luis. The film's scenery is in black and white which gives the viewer an impact on the stories that have been presented. It lets the viewer see that not everything in this country has color."
Manish Rochwani | 04/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I found La Ciudad a very different movie from any other movies I have wathched. This movie is split into four narratives of Latino immigrants living in the city of New York. Immigrants come to the US with many dreams in their minds. These dreams include getting higher education or getting thier childeren higher education, getting rich, and living a happy and high standard life. This movie shows how these dreams of immigrants are turned down and broken because of the exploitations at thier workplace and the laws of the city and the government. This movie also shows how the immigrant children are affected from these laws and exploitations. For example, Luis's daughter Dulce cannot get addmission to school, and Ana cannot do anything to treat her ill daugheter who is not with Ana. I like it how the movie is shown in black and white; it really matches with the narratives that are shown in the movie. It also indicates that although immigrants hope to have happy and colorful lives in the US, they are not able to have them because of the laws and exploitations. Overall, I really liked the movie and I would encourage anyone to see it."