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Tribeca 2022: “The Courtroom”


Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The path of an immigrant’s life is paved through struggle and a constant battle for acknowledgement of those who see them as second-grade citizens. And when that newcomer has a language barrier, they become instant victims of misleading facts and mistakes made by those who should have known better.

“The Courtroom” is a captivating court drama that revolves around a Filipina woman who must prove that she did not vote in the Congressional election knowingly and that it was just a mistake by a government official that led her to believe she must have been eligible to cast her vote. In an extensive cross-examination, Elizabeth Keathley (Kristin Villanueva) takes the stand to provide facts to the best of her ability. But can she stand a chance against the system that uses her as a scapegoat to secure her green card and permanent residency in the United States?

Director Lee Sunday Evans and writer Arian Moayed recreate the court drama in the film, adapted from the acclaimed off-Broadway play. K3 visa does not allow to vote; the punishment is deportation. Elizabeth has built her life in America with her husband with whom she shares their little child. Seems that the carefully constructed family union can fall apart because the system is too blind for those who make accidental mistakes that can lead to severe consequences. Indeed, the system is broken. Yet it offers a remedy in this film that offers a satisfactory solution. Because common sense always prevails over ignorance and blatant errors that can be corrected by those in power.

That being said, “The Courtroom” might appear to you as another way of showing how the government tries to kick as many immigrants out of the country as possible. The justice department might be interested in reducing the number of those that could turn out to be proud and law-abiding citizens. But as the film proves, which is a true story, the fight is worthwhile. It takes going as far as having seven states change their laws. And if that is not what we should expect as a global change, then Elizabeth Keathley’s fight would have been for nothing.

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