For many children of undocumented immigrants, life in America exists in a state of limbo; they grow up speaking the language and immersed in the culture, but without social security cards, work permits or documentation, they are unable to obtain driver’s licenses, steady jobs or in some cases, secondary education. American Dreaming follows two such individuals as they enter adulthood, bump up against the barriers to success facing all children of undocumented immigrants and fight to overcome what they consider modern-day segregation.
Vintage, archival footage illustrates the story of a young woman born in Mexico but raised in the U.S. Her journey is all-American, up to and including the discrimination she suffers and the bigotry directed her way. “The stress level is very high,” says the narrator, who is never shown and whose identity is never revealed, as she describes the opportunities unavailable to her and the constant fear of deportation, all due to the place of her birth and the rules of citizenship. Director Corey Ohama calls the question: What makes someone an American?
In 17 years of working at a dairy farm, manager Guillermo Ramos Bravo says he has never seen a person born in the U.S. ask his boss for a job. Third-generation farmer John Rosenow recalls a time when farms were typically worked entirely by family; now, it’s “about the last thing that you would do; it’s something that’s relegated to the immigrants.” Los Lecheros explains that farms with immigrant employees produce 70 percent of the U.S. milk supply. Republican farmers who voted for Trump are left hoping he didn’t mean what he said about deporting undocumented immigrants, while their workers carry on in fear, or reluctantly return to Mexico.
Over the course of its seven-year civil war, roughly 6 million Syrians have become refugees, while another 500,000 have been killed. Are We Listening?, Tim Kressin’s mini-documentary, drives home the fact that displacement can come in a matter of seconds. For one man, a trip to the grocery store was derailed by a ballistic missile. “When I woke up, my hand had been amputated,” says Abdul, now living in a Jordanian camp with his wife and two children. “My husband had a car; my boys started school; we could see our future,” says Amal, who fled barefoot, in the middle of the night, with her family.
MOUNTAINFILM COMMITMENT GRANT AWARD WINNER
“Another tragedy in the Mediterranean,” a newscaster reports after a flimsy boat carrying 600 migrants sinks in the dangerous central Mediterranean crossing between Libya and Italy. Masked men wearing gloves pull back huge white tarps covering some of the victims. Skye Fitzgerald’s Lifeboat, a 2017 Mountainfilm Commitment Grantee, goes on to chronicle a successful rescue by the German nonprofit Sea-Watch. "Libya is hell," says a survivor. Conditions in Libya offered “two options: Life or death,” says Aisha. She beat the odds, many others did not.
“This region is like the greater Yellowstone ecosystem of the Chihuahuan Desert, and the last true wilderness left in the state of Texas,” says filmmaker/narrator/wildlife biologist Ben Masters. You may know the Big Bend region. You may know that the stunning landscape free from human “improvement” is itself tantamount to a border wall. Now, think about what Trump’s imaginary wall on the ecosystem’s lifeline, the Rio Grande, would do if built.