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Review: Disney+ Original Documentary ‘Mija’

Last March, Disney Original Documentary acquired the worldwide rights to “Mija.” The film is the debut feature of Mexican American filmmaker Isabel Castro and premiered to rave reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The doc had a theatrical run and will make its premiere on Disney+ on September 16, 2022.

“Mija” features Doris Muñoz and Jacks Haupt, two daughters of immigrants from Mexico who are both navigating their careers in the music industry. Seeking to provide for their families while achieving their dreams, Doris and Jacks bond over the ever-present guilt of being the first American-born members of their families and the financial risks of pursuing their dreams. For them, the pressure of success is heightened because it is their family’s hope for green cards and family reunification.

“Mija” is a moving love letter to immigrants and their children. Director Isabel Castro’s intimate debut feature constructs an ethereal vision and dedication to the daughters that fight for their families, their dreams and themselves.

In the film, we first meet Doris Muñoz, a 25-year-old first-generation Mexican-American who works tirelessly as a music manager to pop sensation Cuco.  Muñoz is the only U.S. citizen in her family and carries the full weight of helping support her older brother who was deported to Mexico several years earlier and the struggle to get green cards for her parents, who can’t leave the country to visit him. The Covid pandemic hits which has an effect on the music industry and Doris and Cuco eventually part ways.  We feel the impact of Doris’s pain when she tells the camera, “I just spread myself so thin.  Saying yes to everyone, trying to take care of everyone, and then … it feels like I’m letting down anyone who ever believed in me.”

Almost halfway through the doc, we meet aspiring Chicana singer and musician Jacks Haupt who is desperate to break out of her home in Dallas, Texas, and is also the American daughter of undocumented parents. She struggles to chase her dreams while her traditional parents wish she would take a safer path by going to school and/or getting a “real” job.

These two stories eventually intertwine when Doris reaches out to Jacks and brings her to L.A. The two bond over the guilt they feel over being the first American-born members of their undocumented families and the financial risks they’ve undertaken to make their dreams a reality.

The film takes a profound look at how Doris and Jacks juggle their aspiring careers along with the struggles facing their immigrant families.  The end was an extremely emotional but yet rewarding way for us to end our journey with Doris and Jacks.  While the film does get off to a slow start, it eventually finds its footing and connects to the viewer on a deep level.

“Mija” was produced by Tabs Breese and Yesenia Tlahuel. It is presented by Impact Partners in association with Cinereach and The Concordia Studio Fellowship. Executive producers include Jenny Raskin, Lauren Haber, Geralyn White Dreyfous, Marni E.J. Grossman, Rahdi Taylor and Davis Guggenheim. Co-executive producers include Jenn Lee Smith, Jennifer and Jonathan Allan Soros, Adam and Melony Lewis, and Kelsey Koenig.

You can watch the trailer for “Mija” below:

“Mija” arrives on Disney+ on Friday, September 16, 2022.

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