BY ISN STAFF | June 1, 2015
LOS ANGELES, CA – On Tuesday, June 16, 2015, American DREAMers receives its world premiere as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival’s lineup of Social Impact Free Screenings. The documentary, directed by Jenniffer Castillo, a 2011 graduate of Loyola Marymount University’s Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting program, and co-director Saray Deiseil, follows the journey of the Campaign for an American DREAM (CAD). The group of undocumented youth walked 3,000 miles across America’s heartland, from San Francisco to Washington D.C., to fight for the DREAM Act and immigrant rights.
The six young people featured in the documentary are part of a much larger undocumented youth movement. As a result of the movement’s collective efforts, approximately 1.7 million undocumented youth now benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which grants legal presence and two-year work permits. President Obama announced the program after the subjects featured in American DREAMers staged a series of sit-ins and hunger strikes in the Obama for America campaign offices in cities across the nation. Castillo and Deiseil followed the subjects through their journey of nearly 3,000 miles to capture their courageous story.
Immigration rights and the DREAM Act have been recurring topics in Castillo’s work as a screenwriter. While a student at LMU, she wrote a feature film called Undocumented, which centers on an undocumented mother and daughter who are separated during a Federal raid. Following graduation, Castillo developed American DREAMers with support from LMU SFTV’s Incubator Lab, a post-graduate program funded by the Elbridge and Debra Stuart Family Foundation that helps young LMU filmmakers launch their first professional projects.
“I chose to attend LMU SFTV because of the university’s Jesuit mission, because I knew I wanted to make films about social justice. After graduating I was able to participate in the Incubator Lab, which not only provided me with a grant to help make my first feature documentary, but also allowed me to engage with a community of young filmmakers and industry professionals who were willing and excited to open their doors and offer their guidance. It put me ahead of the game,” said Castillo.
“One of our key goals is to help alumni transition into the industry through programs like the Incubator Lab. We are incredibly proud of Jenniffer’s accomplishments and thrilled that the creative community will get the opportunity to see this important film,” said Stephen Ujlaki, dean of the School of Film and Television.
American DREAMers Trailer:
[SOURCES for this story include Loyola Marymount University]