THE FILMMAKERSAE_filmmakers.html

A documentary film and national engagement project by Carleen L. Hsu and John J. Valadez

AMERICAN EXILE will be a film about two brothers, Valente and Manuel Valenzuela, both military veterans who volunteered and fought in Vietnam.  Now, forty years later they are being deported to Mexico.  They believe they are American but, it turns out the question of citizenship is often far more complicated and confusing than most people realize.  Through their story we will learn about a much larger national phenomenon:  the exile of thousands of honorably discharged military veterans and the devastating effect it is  having on families and communities across the country.

This is the story of how the Valenzuela Brothers began connecting with other

veterans, and how they collectively formed a banished veterans movement.


In Seattle they met Zahid Chaudhry, who suffered a devastating brain injury and shattered two disks in his spine while in the army.  Today he is confined to a wheel chair.  If he is deported to his native Pakistan he fears Taliban or Al Qaeda militants will kill him.


In Rosarito, Mexico, a small town about 15 miles south of Tijuana they met Hector Barajas and Fabian Robolledo.  They were both in the U.S.Army 82nd Airborne, both have been exiled and together they have started, what they are calling The Deported Veterans Support House to organize and help the hundreds of veterans living in northern Mexico.

In Arlington, Texas they met Jesus Castalano, a combat veteran who served for twelve months as an infantryman in Iraq where he took a sniper bullet to the chest and later barely survived when his humvee was blown up from an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).  He is being deported because his work permit expired while he was in combat.


This film will be, at its heart, an exploration of what it means to be American: as defined by complex and sometimes conflicting legal definitions; by patriotism, service and sacrifice; by family and community.  How do we judge someone’s right to be an American when viewed through the lens of military service and sacrifice in a time of war?  How do we calculate the meaning of patriotism when filtered through the prism of culture and race in an age of terrorism and at a time rampant anti-immigrant fervor?  In our desire to defend against enemies abroad, are we creating new casualties at home?

Over the course of the film we will see this crisis transform these two old warriors into veteran rights activists.  We will follow as their plight shapes them into soldiers of a different sort - unlikely organizers of a new grass roots movement led by Mexican American veterans.  This film will chronicle their journey as they face both the emotionally wrought personal struggle to stay in the country they served, and a broader fight to bring public attention to, and help for America’s “banished veterans.”




  Raise $75,000 from individual donors
  Finish the film in one year
Receive a National Broadcast in the fall of 2014
Promote a national conversation about deported veterans
Institutional support provided by
The Independent Television Service

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Donate and make a difference!

  Play the trailer here





Donate $20 
You will receive a personal “Thank You” from the producer and director along with updates as the film progresses.
Donate $60 
You will receive a special “Thank You” as a patron on our web site, along with updates on the film .
Donate $150 
You will receive a “Thank You” on our web site, updates and a DVD of the finished film.
Donate $250 
You will receive a “Thank You” on our web site, updates, and a DVD signed by the producer and director.
Donate $500 
You will receive a “Thank You” on our web site, updates, a signed DVD and a signed poster of the film.
Donate $1000 
You will receive a “Thank You” on our web site, updates, a signed DVD, a poster and be listed in the funding credits of the DVD.
Donate $5000 
You will receive a “Thank You” on our web site, updates, a signed DVD and poster and receive an Executive Producer credit on the DVD.