On Tuesday, June 16, 2015, American DREAMers receives its world premiere as part of the Los Angeles Film Festival’s line up of Social Impact Free Screenings. The documentary, directed by LMU alum Jenniffer Castillo (M.F.A. Screenwriting ’11) and Saray Deiseil, follows the journey of the Campaign for an American DREAM (CAD), a group of undocumented youth who 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-in 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 World Premiere
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Los Angeles Film Festival
Screening begins promptly at 8pm
LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
501 N Main St, Los Angeles, CA 90012|
7pm-8pm Undocu Art Show, Music, Food Vendors
Read our past interview with Castillo here.
As we head into summer, the School of Film and Television congratulates all of our graduating students and also recognizes those students among the class of 2015 who were honored with various academic awards. Pat yourselves on the back…or let us do it for you! Go Lions!
SFTV Student Awards (faculty selected awards based on department criteria):
Animation: Michelle Singh
Recording Arts: Gavin Finn
Production Undergraduates: Jessica Inyene Akpan, Matthew Law-Phipps
Production Graduates: Elida Portillo, Irma Puzauskaite
Ian Connor Cinematography: Laura Jansen, Shanhuan Manton
Undergraduate Screenwriting: Jess Ansik, Samantha Ring
M.F.A. Feature Screenwriting: Danielle Ownbey
M.F.A. WPTV Screenwriting: Bernard Badion
2015 Student Service & Leadership Awards:
Maya Ben Yair (Production – B.A. 17)
Garrett Harris (Production – B.A. ’15)
Trent Nakamura (Recording Arts – B.A. ’15)
Student Organization of the Year Award: Delta Kappa Alpha – Cinematic Artists of Character
Woody Woodpecker Award (faculty selected annual award for the Best Animator – winner receives a a Woody Woodpecker statuette and a $2500 check from the Walter Lantz Foundation):
Julia Vanderpoel (Animation – B.A. ’15) – Chasm Crossing
LMU Graduate Student Association’s On Campus Service Leadership Award:
Ebony Gilbert (Screenwriting – M.F.A.’15)
Cuba: The Forgotten Revolution, a documentary created by SFTV Professor Glenn Gebhard, is airing on PBS nationwide through American Public Television. The film amends history by telling the story of a school teacher named Frank Pais and an architecture student named Jose Antonio Echeverria, who were both critical figures in the overthrow of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista y Zaldiva. Although not as well-known as the historically famous Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, both men played important roles in Batista’s eventual overthrow.
“My film is unique…a deconstruction of the well-worn myths about the Cuban revolution,” said Gebhard. “I’ve been on this film for five years and shot [it] from Cuba to Puerto Rico, to New York and New Haven to LA, Oregon and a few other places.”
Cuba: The Forgotten Revolution chronicles Pais’ and Echeverria’s roles through footage and interviews with family members, Cuban revolutionaries and a former CIA agent. It is commonly believed that Batista’s overthrow was a result of Fidel Castro’s actions alone. Gebhard’s documentary, however, illustrates how both Pais and Echeverria rallied for support against Batista. Above all, the film examines how we view and remember history and seeks to shed light on how Pais and Echeverria helped shape Cuban history.
While the film took Gebhard five years to complete, he had a little help from the LMU SFTV community. Alumnus Tim Guest (Screenwriting – B.A. ‘10) co-wrote the film and Lecturer Mario Congreve served as the film’s co-producer. The Recording Arts Department’s Associate Professor Kurt Daugherty recorded much of the sound and Professor Mladen Milicevic composed the music. The film has star power, too. SFTV Dean Stephen Ujlaki connected the actress and singer Rita Moreno to the project; she is the film’s off-camera narrator.
Clinical Assistant Professor Gino Brancolini, the Associate Producer, contributed to both the scripting and editing of the film. Brancolini also helped secure a partnership with WTIU Public Television, who he worked for in the past. WTIU Public Television shared the film with American Public Television, who selected it for national distribution. Sixty-five PBS stations across the country have agreed to air the film, including those in large metropolitan markets including New York, Boston, Chicago and Miami.
“This film was a joint project of all of us. I’m happy that we finally got this done, and have such wide distribution,” said Gebhard.
The film airs on the local L.A. PBS station, KCLS, Tuesday, April 28 at 9:30pm. All other markets, please check your local listings.
Watch the documentary trailer below. Congratulations Glenn!
This just in: visiting assistant professor Leena Pendharkar‘s short film Dandekar Makes a Sandwich won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short at the 2015 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles this past weekend.
Dandekar Makes a Sandwich, a dramedy written and directed by Pendharkar, tells the story of RK Dandekar, “a curmudgeonly retiree with a picky palate, [who] will stop at nothing to find just the right ingredients for the perfect sandwich.” This short film acts as a prequel to the feature film Days with Dandekar, and debuted on March 14 at CAAMFest 2015.