The documentary mija features Oak musician Cliff Jacks Haupt, but it’s not your typical biopic about a rising artist or a marketing ploy to boost album sales.
Instead, the gritty film offers intimate insight into the struggles of immigrant families to stay together and pursue the American Dream. Haupt and Doris Munoz – a California artist/manager whose story becomes linked to Haupt as the film progresses – are the first American-born members of their immediate family.
While Haupt’s music career is on the verge of a breakthrough, you won’t hear much of it in the film. Instead, it follows the Chicana singer-songwriter and her boyfriend as they live out of their car and face questions from his protective parents about the viability of his career choice.
“I felt very vulnerable knowing that part of my story was being exposed. But I’m glad people can see it,” Haupt said. “Going through this episode, I must have learned a lot about myself and life in general. I’m more mature and see things from a different perspective. It made me very proud of who I am today. today. I’ve grown a lot.”
Haupt will also play a Friday night set at Wild Detectives.
Haupt’s music infuses classic Chicana style with a mix of alternative beats, R&B and soul elements, and relevant bilingual lyrics. She plans to release a new single and video this summer.
Haupt, 22, said her parents have become more supportive since initially questioning her artistic dreams and protecting her mental health and the family’s financial stability.
“It takes patience, especially with parents who weren’t as privileged and just want you to keep your feet on the ground,” she said. “For those who are struggling with the same situation, just give them time. Trying to pursue your dreams can be worth it.
Castro originally wanted to pursue a film about Latin singer Cuco and the pressures he faced coming from an immigrant family and pursuing pop stardom as a teenager. Munoz was his manager and faced similar obstacles. She eventually became the main focus.
It was 2019, but when the onset of the pandemic caused Cuco and Munoz to go their separate ways, it also forced Castro to reorient his first feature film project.
“The music industry went into a tailspin. All this documentary that I had planned around tours and live shows was next to impossible at that point,” said Castro, whose journalism background focuses on immigration.”[Doris] didn’t know where his career was going. It was around this time that she listened to Jacks’ music almost non-stop.
Munoz and Castro connected to Haupt through social media and found a brotherhood through their parallel histories of ambition and family dependency. Along the way, mija became a brand new movie.
“Jacks was just starting to become an artist ready to expand outside of Texas,” Castro said. “She interested me for the same reasons Cuco originally interested me. She incorporated her Mexican American identity into her music, and her sound is truly unique.
Following its festival, the documentary will hit theaters and on Disney+ later this year. Disney’s deal to acquire the film also includes scripted content development rights for its cable network FX.
“It’s so inspiring to me. I think they are so brave to have opened their lives and their hearts to people,” Castro said. “They talk about certain universal truths and experiences that a lot of people connect with. I think it will resonate emotionally.
Haupt said her experiences documented in the film taught her to be open-minded and grateful, especially to her hometown.
“If I ever get to the top, I would still love to represent Dallas,” she said. “Oak Cliff is my home. It’s where I struggled and my family struggled. The community supports each other and is so creative.