Alexandra Pelosi Talks to SF Weekly About Her New Film, Citizen U.S.A

Thumbnail image for rsz_1pelosi.jpg
Taylor Friedman
The other Pelosi's take on immigration
Documentarian Alexandra Pelosi -- yes, that Pelosi -- has doled out heaps of patriotism in her latest film and companion book, Citizen U.S.A.: A 50 State Road Trip. So much so, we imagine former naysayers will go out to buy American flags for their front yards after they watch the HBO premiere, which airs on the Fourth of July.

Pelosi first made a splash with Journeys with George -- an up-close-and-personal look at George W. Bush on the campaign trail in 2000. Her disarming personality won him over, and their unlikely friendship allowed her to capture some rather intimate moments -- including close-ups of him munching on Cheetos and goading her about a crush. Ultimately, the documentary showcased Pelosi's ability to humanize someone who isn't universally popular.

In Citizen U.S.A., she again makes us think twice about another divisive topic: immigration. This time, Pelosi didn't have to leave home to find her muse. Her Dutch-born husband, Michiel Vos, decided that he no longer wanted to be the odd one out in an otherwise American family. The film opens with his swearing-in ceremony before Pelosi takes off on a whirlwind journey across the country to watch others gain citizenship status and ask why they wanted to be Americans.

And though Pelosi somehow made it through 50 states without a single luggage mishap, her good fortune finally gave out on her just hours before the documentary's final screening Thursday night at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, with her mother and our congressional leader, Nancy Pelosi, in attendance. In between trying to find a dress at the last minute, the San Francisco native found time to sit down with SF Weekly to talk about her film at the HBO studios in downtown.

After watching the film, I can't get "God Bless the USA" out of my head. Are you having the same problem?
I'm sorry. It's been on a loop in my head for about a year. And you know what? That guy [writer, singer Lee Greenwood] is so rich. We had to pay so much money ... like 40 grand. And imagine how many people use that song.

How long did it take to visit all 50 states?
A year. I actually could prove it. At HBO, for travel, we have something called a travel grid. I have it in my house. It's more important than the Emmys, because it shows getting to 50 states with two kids. The logistics of that were insane.

Which naturalization ceremonies were the most memorable?
They had one at the Mall of America. It was good. They had one at the circus. They had one at a baseball stadium ... a lot of baseball stadiums. They had one at WrestleMania. I got to go to the Indy 500, because one of the new American citizens went. He was a French racecar driver, and he drove me in his car. Don't ever do it. It gets you so sick. It looks like it would be fun, but it's not. Vertigo.

In Arizona, you encountered people protesting the state's immigration laws. That was the only time the documentary showed the stickier side of immigration.
It was outside. I was trying to avoid the immigration fight. This movie is about citizenship. It's not about immigration. Two different subjects. People who want to watch an immigration film are going to be very disappointed. They should not watch. It's about the people who come in legally and go through the process the right way. Not that there's anything wrong with coming illegally. Just, that's not the movie I was making.

But you still included one guy who compared Arizona's immigration laws to Nazi Germany. How come?
I just wanted to make it clear -- "Don't be naive." Not everyone gets to stay. This is a rosy, patriotic valentine to America. Not everybody feels that way, and he hints at that. The laws are very arbitrary -- who gets to stay and who doesn't. And every election, you hear the politicians talking about comprehensive immigration reform, and it never happens. The system is totally broken. That's a whole 'nother movie. This is just a nice Fourth of July special. It's not an immigration manifesto.


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Arizona Non Pot Smoker
Arizona Non Pot Smoker

Get your fucking "granola" on. I am an Native Arizonan. Not an evil bone in my body. Nor a predujice one. But I take total and compete OFFENSE that the ONE interview on her new documentary depicted AZ as assholes (once again). Let me personally invite Californians to live in our great state of AZ for one month. When you watch our local news about women and BABIES getting raped and killed in our DESERT, let me know hoe you feel then. This whole Pelosi family is built on THEIR BELIEFS, not those of American people. I lived in Santa Cruz, CA for 6 years and am more liberal than most here, but FUCK YOU! Don't ever film the state of AZ in that way again. Not everyone here lives on the beach and smokes pot and shoots heroin for fun. Welcome to Arizona, BITCH!

Love2Watch
Love2Watch

I know you are angry I can see that and its so obvious, but can you at least behave like a human being?

Bob
Bob

Looking forward to seeing the documentary - too bad she's Congresswoman Pelosi's daughter.  And too bad for her comment - "there's nothing wrong with coming here illegally".  I guess she believes we shouldn't have borders at all - or that it's ok to come as long as you'll vote for her party when you're granted amnesty.  Hopefully all of this is a small part of her documentary.

Dave Francis
Dave Francis

The Dream Act in itself, might be a reasonable law allowing thestudents of illegal parents, to be permitted to stay in the UnitedStates? But the ramifications are more ominous, that once the studentshave legitimacy they can then start petitioning for family members andthat by any other name is CHAIN MIGRATION. It further challenges morepeople to simply scorn what lax laws we have and just enter illegally.Immediate family members overtime can then bring in even more people,and this has set up a chain reaction. Just like another possibility ofyet a second mass amnesty, it always attributes to costs. It has beenverified that the 1986 accounting, when the final tally was made thatit cost US taxpayers 76 Billion dollars. By the time of a furtheramnesty in today’s dollars and cents had been calculated, the Heritagefoundation assessed such final bottom line of in the range of 2.6Trillion dollars.

Now this dollar figure is based on the assumption, that there are only11 to 12 million foreign nationals in the country, a number based onprocessing, background checks and an accumulation on other personaldata along with medical examinations. But (FAIR) Federation of AmericanImmigration Reform, ( NUMBERSUSA) and thousands of grass rootsovereignty organizations have assessed the population figures to wellover 20 billion. This is an overwhelming number to consider and adollar figure to incredulous to even imagine. That would strip anygains against the $14.5 Trillion dollars we owe outside the shores ofAmerica. This nation must be entirely thankful to the great State ofArizona, who started this long and dangerous crusade against thetyranny inside the Obama administration that would welcome into Americaevery indigent family from across the globe.

Stepping forward now the TEA PARTY is the only true way that willelevate this massive debt, placed upon taxpayers by thoughtlesspoliticians. We cannot trust the Imperials in the Republican Party andwe certainly cannot trust the undercover far Left, that has impregnatedthe Democrats. Either party has had their own agenda for omnipotentpower of new voters through illegal immigration, or the overallinfluence from big business to relax laws, so millions can be used fora lesser form of slavery; except in both ideals the programmed taxpayerpicks up the unknown estimated cost to support them. In three decadesAmerica's working man/ women has lost a percentage of his wages, tosupport illegal immigrants. How academia thinks the economy would grow,must live in a delusional world, when nearly every State is burdened byinstant citizenship baby laws, which under the currentmisinterpretation payments of cash to these families, has diluted everytreasury.

Our schools are crammed to capacity, full of the children of illegalaliens, the health system slowly falling apart as more hospitals failof wanton families to be treated; many of these institutions unable tosurvive. Then we have the US penal system choked with illegal aliencriminals, that is yet another tax hike on the American population. TheTEA PARTY is our only remedy as the Congress, have no sense of urgencyto the impending financial crash. Perhaps Rep. Michele Bachman ofMinnesota, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sarah Palin of Alaska; allregarded as strong supporters of the ever growing TEA PARTY. Only theTEA PARTY leaders seem to understand the financial predicament we havetruly manufactured for ourselves, from the years of corruption withinequal parties. The TEA PARTY has astounded both political parties inpower, and will release us from the years of rot and poor orintentional mismanagement to gain favor with open border lobbyists. TheTEA PARTY Has sworn to the major majority of the American people, nonew amnesties of any kind, which includes the dismantling of Sanctuarycities and towns, no dream Acts or anything assigned to foreigners whobroke our stagnant laws.

To accomplish this task we must insist our government implementmandatory E-Verify and Secure Communities, which will track down bothillegal workers and criminal illegal aliens. There must be nocompromises, but that Congress should enforce these laws, withoutinterference from the open border zealots or the elitist groupsdiscount labor.

You should also introduce yourself to the people who run thisdevastated country at the Senate—202-224–3121/ House—202-225–3121 andtell them it’s time to depart of fight for the American taxpayer.

 

MoeGreene
MoeGreene

The History channel aired a fascinating documentary on Immigration called "The Naturalized" about a year ago.  If i remember correctly, the movie opens with a scene at a swearing-in ceremony as well. 

Organyx
Organyx

Good interview! I saw Alexandra on the Bill Maher show last week. She's very quit witted and funny. I'm looking forward to seeing the film. (^_^)

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