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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Davis Guggenheim's The Dream Is Now is an emotional 30-minute documentary that supports comprehensive immigration reform, including the Dream Act and other legislative and presidential efforts, and openly calls people to come together to support these efforts. The personal stories shared here (including one about a teen suicide) are troubling and may be tough for sensitive viewers to handle, but they're offered within context and as way of countering negative stereotypes about undocumented U.S. residents. The film also sends a strong and positive message about ways in which young people have empowered themselves to promote change. YouTube, Facebook, and other digital media are highlighted as resources to seek help, spread awareness, and mobilize civil action. Young viewers, especially those touched by this issue, might be interested, but it's really intended for teens and adults. (Note: The film is available to stream here.)
What's the story?
THE DREAM IS NOW details the negative impact of failed attempts to pass comprehensive American immigration reform -- and the efforts of people across the country to do something about it. Directed/produced by An Inconvenient Truth filmmaker Davis Guggenheim and produced by immigration reform advocate Laurene Powell Jobs, the film chronicles what it's like to live as a talented but undocumented young adult in America. To do so, it introduces viewers to aspiring doctor Ola Kaso, student/activist Erika Andiola, U.S. Marine hopeful Alejandro Morales, and Jose Patino, a graduate of Arizona State University's engineering program. The Dream Is Now also chronicles the tumultuous political journey of The Dream Act, which, if passed, will grant conditional permanent residency to certain undocumented residents who emigrated to the United States as minors. Throughout it all, the film reminds us of how the conversations and events surrounding immigration are having a direct impact on America's political, economic, and social landscape -- including the growing power and impact of the Latino vote.
Is it any good?
This film successfully challenges many of the preconceived notions people have about what who illegal residents are, what they do, and their impact on society. From Phoenix, Ariz., to Ann Arbor, Mich., The Dream Is Now weaves together the political story behind Congress' inability to pass/agree on immigration reform and the emotional personal narratives of accomplished young adults who were illegally brought into this country as children and aren't being allowed to become contributing members of American society despite being committed to serving the United States in some way. The film also underscores the real challenges that these young people face every day because of their undocumented status: like not having a Social Security number, coping with prevailing stereotypes about who illegal immigrants really are, and living in fear of invasive law enforcement practices and of being deported by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
The Dream Is Now -- which takes a clear political position on this hot-button issue -- is a call to action for residents in the United States, legal or otherwise, to mobilize in order to pass the Dream Act and/or other legislation designed to assist the undocumented population in this country. Because of its brief 30-minute time frame, it isn't able to address many of the details surrounding this extremely complicated issue. But it shows how America's young people are willing to come together to change something that's broken.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the history of immigration in the United States and how it's presented in The Dream Is Now. America is historically known as a country made up of immigrants. So why is there so much discussion about immigration today? How do news stories, entertainment shows, and other media talk about immigration and undocumented residents? Is the media responsible for existing stereotypes about who undocumented people are?
What are the different ways that people use film, TV, and digital media to change the way that governments, corporations, and other institutions do things? Why? If you wanted to raise awareness about an issue and/or get people to come together to take an action, how would you use the media to help you get it done?
Some media, like news stories and documentaries, are often expected to be objective in the way they present issues. Do you think it's OK for a documentary to take a position on an issue? Why or why not?
- In theaters: April 14, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: September 4, 2013
- Cast: Alejandro Morales, Erika Andiola, Ola Kaso
- Director: Davis Guggenheim
- Studio: Emerson Collective
- Genre: Documentary
- Character strengths: Communication, Compassion, Empathy, Integrity
- Run time: 31 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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