Held over three nights at The New School, the documentary films portrayed the cultural and political complexities of migration. Dream City featured several opportunities for audiences to hear from directors and producers about the process of making films by and about immigrants.
1. Young Filmmakers Telling It Like It Is
The series included two short films from I Need to Be Heard!, a youth media training project of The New School’s Engage Media Lab and the Arab American Family Support Center in Brooklyn. The films Don’t and Escape used humor and drama to show what’s it’s like for young Arab American women growing up in the U.S.
2. Two Americans
The audience was blown away by the courage and leadership of 9-year-old Katherine Figueroa who fought to keep her parents in the U.S after they were arrested in an immigration raid by deputies of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Filmmaker Valeria Fernandez, a former Feet in 2 Worlds reporting fellow, flew to New York from Phoenix to present her film which juxtaposes the lives of Figueroa and Arpiao, and to answer questions after a screening.
3. Q&As with the filmmakers
Opening night featured a conversation with filmmakers whose work was represented in the series. The producer of A Son’s Sacrifice, Musa Syeed, pointed to the power of documentaries to create opportunities for dialogue and understanding. Syeed’s half-hour documentary follows Imran Uddin, a 27-year old New Yorker of mixed Bangladeshi-Puerto Rican heritage who takes over his father’s business, a pick-your-own Halal slaughterhouse in Queens. Syeed said that through watching the film, Uddin and his father learned things about each other that they never knew.
Listen to the full discussion with the filmmakers:
- Ursula Liang – director, 9 MAN
- Musa Syeed – producer, A Son’s Sacrifice
- Valeria Fernandez – director, Two Americans
- Takeshi Fukunaga – director, Out of my Hand
- Alexandra Delano – Prof. Global Studies at The New School
The conversation began with Fi2W Executive Producer John Rudolph asking how the filmmakers found their subjects and what they hoped to achieve with their films. Musa Syeed speaks first:
4. Celebrating Films from New School Students
As the Yemeni owner of a local grocery store in Brooklyn says in Ramy Zabarah’s film, Bogeda, “everyone has a story behind their smile, behind their face.” Zabarah is one of three New School students whose films were shown. Alicia Ibanez’s film Ruver is a portrait of a Chilean intellectual who makes crépes at a shop in New York City’s East Village. Syambra Moitozo presented her film Chimena Dreams of Eggs, about a poor women from Togo who came to New York and built a successful business on Staten Island. These emerging filmmakers showed us how important is it to take the time to hear the stories of people in our local communities and understand their experiences.
5. And the Food was Amazing!
Check out the Films
9-MAN – https://youtu.be/moJ3WA_feoU
Two Americans – https://youtu.be/G2mx4EQgJoU
A Son’s Sacrifice – https://youtu.be/eohFGOTVMNQ
Dream City was supported by the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility at The New School and produced in partnership with Urban Sessions, Ruff Cuts, University Student Senate, Engage Media Lab, Global Studies at The New School, Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages at The New School and The NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, 2015 Immigrant Heritage Week.
Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation.