Synopsis: Illegal is a feature-length documentary about the miraculous journey of Salvadoran immigrant Laz Ayala’s life or death path to U.S. citizenship, the challenges of present-day immigration, and his mission to humanize immigrants and reform immigration for the benefit of all.
The film begins as Laz journeys back to his childhood home in El Salvador. He recounts his arduous path north on the Pan American Highway with his father and brother where at any moment they could have been discovered and turned back… or killed. Laz’s life is a story of struggle, determination, and hope for a brighter future for immigrants, the industries that rely upon them, and our entire country.
Illegal wrapped up a successful Kickstarter campaign on April 3rd, 2020 which raised over $40,000 for the production of the film. As of April 2020, the film has been selected to over a dozen festivals including Beverly Hills International Film Festival, Ashland Independent Film Festival, and Richmond International Film Festival.
In 2016 when I graduated from university, I told people that my dream was to film a documentary in Latin America. At the time I was clueless of how this would come to pass — until the day I met Laz Ayala, an immigrant from El Salvador.
Laz and I met at the Southern Oregon Rotary Club where I was hired to film Laz’s speech. Thirty minute keynote — nothing out of the ordinary, right? Wrong. After hearing Laz’s testimony, I was inspired by his life story, suggesting that it could be a powerful film. In November 2018, I was chosen to direct his movie and my dream became a reality. At that time my motivation for telling Laz’s story was purely biographical—to give the American public an opportunity to step into the immigrant’s shoes and learn about their story of desire, struggle and success.
However, as I finish editing today and am exporting the final movie, I realize that sharing Laz’s narrative is not just a “feel-good” underdog success story; rather, it is about finding a solution to the conundrum of illegal immigration, one that is humane, impartial and a win-win for the migrant, employer and American society. Creating this movie has become more than just achieving a personal dream, but standing up for something that really matters in this life — and that is humanity. Everyone has a name, a story and a dream. Proudly, I share with you the story of Laz Ayala.
Nick Alexander is an Oregon filmmaker aspiring to convey powerful, inspirational stories through the medium of film. For the past 4 years, he has grown his video production business, focusing on video marketing, weddings and documentaries.
In academia, he received a Bachelors Degree in the studies of Emerging Media & Digital Art and Spanish from Southern Oregon University. Being fluent in Spanish and having cultural experience in the Latin American world, these qualities led him to his first feature film: Illegal.