Aloe Blacc – “Wake Me Up”

The DJ mix of Aloe Blacc’s song “Wake Me Up” was the #1 song around the world in 2013.

For the acoustic version, Aloe wanted to connect the song’s lyrics, which speak of hope and struggle, to the fight for justice and freedom for immigrants in America.

Through the National Day Laborer Organizing Network Alex Rivera proposed a story to Aloe Blacc that would turn the themes in the song into a specific story told in pictures. The result, the follow up to La Santa Cecilia’s ICE/El Hielo is another mini-film, again made in collaboration with a cast of mostly undocumented actors, some actively fighting deportation. While “ICE/El Hielo” focused on the tragedy brought on by a workplace raid, “Wake Me Up” focuses on the life journey that leads a young woman to stand up to the systems of control around her.

“Wake Me Up,” a unique collaboration between a musician, a filmmaker, and a grassroots community organization, is an example of the type of cultural production only possibly at the exact crossroads of cinema and activism.

As part of the #NOT1MORE campaign, NDLON invited Alex Rivera to dialogue with the band La Santa Cecilia about their song “ICE / El Hielo.”  What emerged was the concept for a ground-breaking music video that collaborated with a cast of undocumented actors, some actively fighting deportation. In the video, the actors relive parts of their life stories, in a unique performance neither documentary nor fiction.

The result, which The New York Times called “a powerful video that soon went viral,” is an example of the type of cultural production only possibly at the exact crossroads of cinema and activism.

At the invitation of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, Manu Chao traveled to Arizona to witness the human rights crisis facing migrants there and to give a free “Alto Arizona” concert.

I shot a short music video of Manu in front of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s infamous “Tent City” jail before the show on September 21, 2011.

Footage of Tent City donated by Daniel DeVivo and Valeria Fernandez. For more of their powerful imagery from Arizona, visit

I produced this short video with award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa for to preview her PBS documentary “Lost in Detention,” a film exploring the extraordinary growth of the immigration detention system under the Obama administration.

Produced by / Animations by

For more information:

A collaboration with the National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), the National Immigrant Youth Alliance (NIYA) and Puente Movement, this video features a live performance by Chilean MC Ana Tijoux in Arizona, with a group of undocumented youth activists who participated in a historic civil disobedience action, directly confronting ‘America’s Toughest Sherrif,’ Joe Arpaio. This video was produced as part of the “Alto Arizona” campaign. More info here:

Director/Editor: Alex Rivera
Director of Photography: Lisa Rinzler
Additional Camera: Daniel Devivo
Protest Footage: PanLeft Productions
Thanks to: Alonso Parra

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