Film Review: Don’t Tell Anyone (No le digas a nadie)

By Andrea Gutierrez

» Orig­i­nal­ly pub­lished in Bitch (Sum­mer 2016, no. 71)


Don’t Tell Anyone (No le digas a nadie)
Director: Mikaela Shwer
Portret Films

No le digas a nadie,” Angy Rivera’s moth­er would warn her about their undoc­u­ment­ed immi­gra­tion sta­tus. Don’t tell any­one. In the doc­u­men­tary of the same name, Angy Rivera chafes against this advice at a time when many of her undoc­u­ment­ed peers are doing the same. “I start­ed see­ing things dif­fer­ent­ly,” she says.

Brought from Colum­bia to the Unit­ed States by her moth­er when she was three years old, Angy is now a col­lege stu­dent in New York City. Unlike her three younger sib­lings who were born in the Unit­ed States, Angy lives in a con­stant state of hyper vig­i­lance; her sta­tus is nev­er far from her mind. Yet in 2010, two years before the pas­sage of Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals (DACA), she gets involved in a lead­er­ship pro­gram with oth­er undoc­u­ment­ed youth and takes the bold step of mak­ing her sta­tus pub­lic, even while her moth­er wor­ries it could lead to Angy’s, and per­haps her own, depor­ta­tion. And because her undoc­u­ment­ed sta­tus makes her inel­i­gi­ble to get state or fed­er­al aid for col­lege, Rivera launch­es an online crowd­fund­ing cam­paign. The leap of faith pays off: When her sto­ry is picked up by local media and a stranger offers to cov­er her tuition, Rivera rec­og­nizes the pow­er she holds to change her future by sim­ply speak­ing out.

At its core, Don’t Tell Any­one is about the cost of silence for undoc­u­ment­ed immi­grants, in par­tic­u­lar for women and girls. It’s the same fear that kept Rivera from telling any­one about being sex­u­al­ly abused by her mother’s boyfriend after arriv­ing in the Unit­ed States, the same vio­lence and injus­tice that her moth­er sought to escape when she left Colom­bia. But as she gets more involved as an immi­grant-rights activist, and more vocal about being undocumented—she launch­es an advice col­umn and YouTube chan­nel, “Ask Angy,” and becomes a fix­ture at protests—the chasm between moth­er and daugh­ter widens as each ques­tions the other’s pri­or­i­ties.

Mikaela Shwer’s film is a rich, engag­ing por­trait; Angy is bright, fired-up, and not like­ly to qui­et down any­time soon. We wouldn’t want her to, either. ☀

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