CNN Films Acquires Jose Antonio Vargas' 'Documented'

The documentary about the filmmaker's life as an undocumented immigrant will air on the cable news network during the second quarter of 2014.

CNN Films has acquired the U.S. broadcast rights to Jose Antonio Vargas' Documented, a feature-length film in which Vargas recounts his life as an undocumented immigrant and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. The deal was made in advance of the 2013 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam.

Documented will premiere on CNN in the second quarter of 2014 as a CNN Films broadcast, following its international bow at the IDFA and its theatrical distribution in the United States. Vargas wrote and directed the film, on which technology entrepreneur Sean Parker, Matthew Hiltzik, Scott Budnick and philanthropist Liz Simons served as executive producers.

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Vargas began working on the documentary shortly before “outing” himself as undocumented in a  2011 New York Times Magazine essay, “My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant.” He then traveled around America, telling his story and connecting with others with similar experiences. Along the way, he reconnected with his mother, whom he had not seen in 20 years. When he was 12, she had sent him from the Philippines to the United States to live with his grandparents in Mountain View, Calif.  

“Immigration, to me, is not a political issue, it’s not a Latino or Asian issue -- it’s an American story,” Vargas said. “The film is in honor of 11 million undocumented immigrants -- many of us Americans in all but papers. And the film is dedicated to parents everywhere who dream of better futures for their children.”

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In 2008, Vargas was awarded a Pulitzer as part of the team of Washington Post journalists who reported on the 2007 shooting massacre at Virginia Tech University.

“We have followed Jose’s story closely since 2011 and are very pleased we will be able to offer U.S. viewers a window into the experiences of recent immigrants through his story. Jose also reports this story from a journalist’s point of view -- which makes it a great fit for distribution on our network,” said Amy Entelis, senior vice president for talent and content development for CNN Worldwide.