Docfilm “PRODIGAL DAUGHTER,” a heartfelt timely story of an immigrant woman artist, to premiere May 30 at LALIFF 2024

By Oliver Carnay

Filmmaker and artist Mabel Valdiviezo reunites with her family in Peru after 16 years of estrangement, confronting her past as an immigrant in the United States.  

“PRODIGAL DAUGHTER” will have its world premiere at the 23rd Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival 2024 (LALIFF) on May 30 at 7 p.m., Auditorium 3, at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

PRODIGAL DAUGHTER is the intimate documentary directed and produced by Mabel Valdivezo that follows filmmaker/artist on a poignant journey to reunite with her family in Peru after 16 years of silence.  Through Mabel’s personal story, the film reveals the struggles of immigrant women living without a safety net, exploring their challenges in staying connected with their families left behind.

Produced by Haiku Films, the film aims to raise public awareness and foster dialogue about gendered migration, family reconnection, belonging, and mental health.  Valdiviezo’s story is centered on her reconnecting with her family and restoring their bonds, and she uses art as both a storytelling device and a healing vehicle.

A punk artist fleeing war-torn Peru, Valdiviezo came to San Francisco, California in 1993 on a tourist visa but soon became undocumented and struggled to build a life of meaning while living at the fringes of society.  Her physical and mental health was affected, and she documented those difficult years through photographic self-portraits, drawings, collages, and visual diaries.

The film weaves verite scenes with family photos that Valdiviezo transforms into vibrant mixed media “photo-paintings” to convey her emotional separation from her family and her longing for reconnection.  Peruvian underground punk art blends with playful stop-motion animations, bringing to life her youth during Peru’s tumultuous 80’s.

Valdiviezo emphasizes the importance of challenging the mainstream stereotypical depictions of immigrants.  “In this current climate, it is crucial to craft narratives that offer multifaceted portrayals of immigrant lives that mirror the richness of our communities,: she said.  Valdiviezo achieves this goal by crafting an evocative story, intertwining her art with the Peruvian indigenous artwork of her mother, Bila Flores.

“Prodigal Daughter is a compelling and insightful story that is both personal and universal, opening the door to conversation about largely unspoken and difficult issues,” said Mary Johnson Rockers from the North Carolina Farmworker Health Program at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.  “Mabel’s film will aid in deepening our understanding of farmworker families’ experiences with mental health, and will strengthen our efforts to address these issues in our work.”

The filmmaker/artist plans to grow a robust social impact campaign and partner with immigrant and women organizations, bringing the film to community centers, schools, broadcast, and online audiences.  The project is currently seeking support from sponsors & donors to launch the social impact campaign.

Mabel Valdiviezo is an award-winning filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist whose work is grounded in the Latinx community and her identity as an immigrant artist. Utilizing a poetic vocabulary, she explores themes of migration, gender equality, and spirituality. Her credits include the PBS/KQED documentary short “Carlos Baron, Poeta Pan,” as director and producer; the narrative short “Soledad is Gone Forever,” as director and producer; the PBS World feature documentary Sands of Silence, as associate producer; and PBS’s RiverWebs, as editor. Her films have screened at LALIFF and the New York Latino Film Festival, and she received the Women in Film Emerging Filmmaker Award. Valdiviezo is an alumna of the Sundance Producers Conference, the Gotham Documentary Lab, Brown Girls Doc Mafia Feedback Loop, BAVC, IDA, and the NALIP Latino Producers Academy.