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Documented: An Intimate Journey into the Life of an Undocumented Immigrant

"Documented" offers a deeply personal and poignant exploration of the undocumented immigrant experience in America.

Keywords: Documentary, Immigration, America, Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer Prize, Undocumented, Personal Story, Human Rights. Three words: 'Eye-opening', 'Emotional', 'Relevant'.


"Documented," directed by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas and released in 2013, offers a deeply personal look into the life of an undocumented immigrant in America. In a time where immigration is a hotly debated topic, this documentary offers a human perspective that is often overlooked in political discourse.


In "Documented," Vargas chronicles his journey from the Philippines to the United States, his discovery of his undocumented status as a teenager, and his journey through America's broken immigration system. Without revealing too much, this narrative explores the emotional and psychological impacts of living as an undocumented immigrant.

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Vargas takes a participatory approach, using his personal experiences to shed light on the struggles of undocumented immigrants. The research is meticulous and the exploration of the subject matter is profound, offering a unique insider's perspective.

Historical and Factual Context


To understand the documentary better, it's important to note the historical and factual context of immigration in the United States, including the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and the DREAM Act.

Key themes in the film

  • The Human Side of Immigration: Vargas’s personal story humanizes the faceless statistics often associated with immigration.
  • The American Dream: The documentary explores the pursuit of the American Dream and its accessibility (or lack thereof) for undocumented immigrants.
  • Identity: It delves into the complexity of identity, particularly for those living in the shadows.

Film Comparisons

Unlike other documentaries on iWonder, "Documented" offers a first-hand account of the immigrant experience, making it a unique and compelling watch.

Noteworthy Moments

Vargas's revelation of his undocumented status in a New York Times essay was a significant turning point, both in his life and in the narrative of the documentary.


"Documented" was well received by audiences and critics. It holds an IMDB score of 6.7 and has 2 wins & 2 nominations to its name.


"Documented" is a crucial watch for anyone seeking to understand the human side of immigration policy. It is particularly relevant for those interested in social justice, human rights, and immigration reform.

More film information:


  • IMDB Score: 6.7
  • Rotten Tomatoes Score: N/A
  • Metacritic Score: N/A
  • Film Festival Awards: 2 wins & 2 nominations



  • Jose Antonio Vargas: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, filmmaker, and immigration rights activist.
  • Emelie Salinas: Vargas's mother who he left behind in the Philippines.



  • Mountain View, California: Where Vargas grew up.
  • New York City: Where Vargas reveals his status in a New York Times essay.

Key Questions Raised by the Film

  • What is the psychological impact of living as an undocumented immigrant?
  • How does being undocumented affect one’s pursuit of the American Dream?
  • How can immigration reform address the challenges faced by undocumented immigrants?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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  1. A famous book, it would be "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck - both shed light on the struggles of marginalized communities in search of a better life.
  2. A famous song, it would be "Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin - the song's themes of displacement and journey resonate with Vargas's story.
  3. A famous piece of art, it would be "The Raft of the Medusa" by Géricault – both depict desperate struggles for survival and dignity.
  4. A famous celebrity, it would be Lin-Manuel Miranda – both use their platforms to draw attention to overlooked narratives and social issues.
  5. A colour, it would be grey – symbolizing the ambiguity and uncertainty faced by undocumented immigrants.
  6. A music style, it would be folk music - known for its storytelling and social commentary, much like this documentary.

Watch the Documentary:


Watch Documented - Streaming Online | iwonder (Free Trial)
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas chronicles his life as an undocumented immigrant in America.