Im­mi­grants wel­come here

Metro USA (New York) - - Entertainment - MATT PRIGGE

In Elia Kazan’s 1961 epic “Amer­ica, Amer­ica,” a Turk­ish fam­ily spends the en­tire film fight­ing to make it to the U.S. — the land of prom­ise and free­dom. Then again, it’s set in the late 19th cen­tury.

“Movies are like a ma­chine that gen­er­ates em­pa­thy,” goes Roger Ebert’s fa­mous line. The dozen or so films in “Im­mi­grant Songs,” a se­ries at the newly ren­o­vated Quad the­ater, of­fer plenty of it.

They’re sto­ries of tri­umph, of as­sim­i­la­tion, some­times of strife. Some of their he­roes are saintly; some, not so much. You have the Gu­atemalan sib­lings of 1983’s “El Norte,” who trek to Cal­i­for­nia, where de­mor­al­iz­ing jobs and tragedy await.

You also have the coked-up gun nut of Brian De Palma’s “Scar­face.”

In be­tween are bit­ter­sweet odes to out­siders mak­ing their way in our fine coun­try. The Rus­sian im­mi­grants of Barry Levin­son’s “Avalon” and

Don Bluth’s mouse-cen­tric “An Amer­i­can Tail” more or less fare well, as does Ed­die Mur­phy’s African prince in “Com­ing to Amer­ica.”

Then there’s the Ger­man va­grant of Werner Her­zog’s “Stroszek,” who finds only de­spair and a danc­ing chicken. Robert De Niro plays two very dif­fer­ent Mafioso in “The God­fa­ther: Part II” and “Once Upon a Time in Amer­ica,” who only nab the Amer­i­can dream by think­ing out­side the box.

PHOTOFEST

“The God­fa­ther Part II”

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